Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lorrie Morgan-27 Years As An Opry Member

It was on June 9, 1984 that Lorrie Morgan followed in the footsteps of her father, the great George Morgan, and became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. I can't believe that she has been an Opry member for 27 years.

Lorrie's birth name is Loretta Lynn Morgan. She first appeared at the Opry at the age of 13, while the show was still at the Ryman Auditorium. Here is how she remembered that night:

"I was thirteen years old and it was down at the Ryman Auditorium. I was a little skeptical about doing it. I was real nervous and I really wasn't sure I wanted to sing. But I could sing and Dad asked me if I wanted to try to go on the stage. We got to the Opry House and I went and rehearsed the song 'Paper Roses' with the guitar player. And I was shaking. And Dad told me-he used to call me Fussy-'Now, Fussy, before I bring you on I'm gonna look at you over in the wings. And if you wanna come on you shake your head yes, and if you don't, no.' We'll, I got a new dress and everything, but I still wasn't sure I was going on. So he went out there and he started talking about something and he looked over at me and I shook yes. And he introduced me. Before I went on I had asked my guitar player, 'What do I do if I get an encore?' 'Well, you won't,' he said, 'but if you do, you come back in and sing the chorus again.' So I went out and I sang and I got a standing ovation. And from then on I said, 'Okay, this is it!'"

When Lorrie became an Opry member, she really wasn't a star. She had bounced around singing on local televison in Nashville, specifically the Ralph Emery morning show. In 1987, she was signed to RCA Records and at that point she stared to have chart success. In 1990 she won the CMA Vocal Event of the Year award for her work with her late husband, Keith Whitley, who died in 1989. "Dear Me" was the album that made Lorrie a star and she followed that up with an even bigger record, "Something in Red", which came out in 1991. In the 1990's, she maintained her chart presence and she even did some movie and television work. It was at that point that her career peaked and while she would continue to produce new albums, she never attained that level of success again.

When Lorrie first joined the Opry, which was before she hit it big, she appeared on the show on a pretty regular basis. In fact, in 1985, the year she joined the show, she appeared 81 times!!!! In 1988, the last full year before she had her #1 records, she appeared 72 times. But, by 1990, her appearances had dropped to just 4. Since 2000, her appearances have remained pretty steady, averaging about 15 apperances each year. Although she dropped down to just 7 shows in 2010, she did appear 16 times in 2009.

I still think she should appear at the Opry more often. While he was on Opry member, her father George Morgan really supported the show and was one of the Opry's more popular members. And many nights, he would bring Lorrie with him. Lorrie has told the stories about sitting and playing in various guitar cases backstage, and one of her best friends was Bill Carlisle's daughter, Sheila. With that type of history behind her, I thought she really "got it" and while I did not expect her to continue at 80-90 appearances each year, I thought it would be better than what it was. But, I will say that she does show up more than many of her contemporaries from the 1980's and 1990's.

I haven't mentioned Lorrie's personal life, and while I won't go into it too much, let's just say it has been interesting. She has been married 6 times, has been widowed and bankrupt. She has been in the tabloids more than her share of the time. But she continues on and has remained popular with her fans.

In honor of Lorrie Morgan's anniversary as an Opry member, here is the running order for both shows that took place on Saturday June 9, 1984, the night that Lorrie Morgan officially became a member of the Grand Ole Opry:

6:30 Mrs. Grissoms
Stonewall Jackson (host)-Me and You and A Dog Named Boo
Connie Smith-I Had A Dream
Stonewall Jackson-Muddy Water

6:45 Rudy's
Del Reeves (host)-Two dollars in the Jukebox/A Dime at a Time/Looking at the World Though a Windshield
Jeannie Seely-Your Sweet Lies Just Turned Down My Sheets Again
Del Reeves-Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me

7:00 Shoney's
Jim Ed Brown (host)-Lying In Love With You
Billy Grammer-Homestead on the Farm
Skeeter Davis-Turning Away
Hank Locklin-Send Me The Pillow That You Dreamed On
Jean Shepard-Virginia
Jim Ed Brown-Pop A Top

7:30 Standard Candy
Bill Anderson (host)-Po Folks
Crook Brothers/Melvin Sloan Dancers-Sally Goodin
Billy Walker-Funny How Time Slips Away
Bill Anderson-Still

8:00 Martha White
Roy Acuff (host)-Wabash Cannonball
The Whites-Forever You/Swing Down Sweet Chariot
Dan Kelly-Sally Goodin
Jeannie Pruett-Back to Back
Howdy Forrester-Fiddle Tune
Roy Acuff-I Saw The Light

8:30 Acme
Hank Snow (host)-Forever And One
Dottie West-It's High Time/Crazy/I Fall to Pieces
4 Guys-Cottonfields/Mariah
Roy Drusky-The Last Farewell
Bill Carlisle-I'm Moving
Hank Snow-I Don't Hurt Anymore

9:30 Dollar General
Jim Ed Brown (host)-Southern Lovin
4 Guys-How Married Are You Mary Ann
Jeannie Seely-When Your Heart's Been Stepped On
Del Reeves-Good Hearted Woman
Wilma Lee Cooper-A Daisy A Day
Jim Ed Brown-You're The Reason God Made Oklahoma

10:00 Little Debbie
Bill Anderson (host)-I Love You Drops
Jan Howard-Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good
Ray Pillow-Julie Loved Boston More Than Me
Bill Anderson-Southern Fried

10:15 Sunbeam
Billy Walker (host)-Cross the Brazos at Waco
Hank Lockin-Danny Boy
Skeeter Davis-Turning Away
Billy Walker-He Sang the Songs About El Paso

10:30 Martha White
Roy Acuff (host)-Meeting in the Air
Jean Shepard-Second Fiddle
Roy Thackerson-Eighth of January

10:45 Beech-Nut
Roy Drusky (host)-Don't it Make You Want to Go Home
Jeanne Pruett-Satin Sheets
Crook Brothers/Melvin Sloan Dancers-Gray Eagle
Roy Drusky-One Day at a Time

11:00 Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host)-I'm Moving On
Dottie West-It's High Time/Here Comes My Baby
The Whites-Hangin Around
Jerry Douglas-Cincinnati Rag
Hank Snow-Born for You

11:30 Quincy's
Stonewall Jackson (host)-Why I'm Walking
Bill Carlisle-Too Old to Cut the Mustard/Oh, What a Party
Stonewall Jackson-Old Chunk of Coal


  1. Quite a lineup that night, and a good point about Lorrie: she isn't dedicated enough, but she's more dedicated than a lot of the members of her generation. I also remember that she did the Opry the weekend after Keith Whitley died, and that raised a lot of eyebrows, but I thought it was something she needed to do. Yes, her personal life has been a bit crazy, but, then again, after what she went through with Keith, I think we can be a bit more understanding than some of the tabloid types.

  2. It is amazing that when you look at the line ups from even 10 or 20 years ago, how full they are. And, from 40 years ago, it is just crazy. You see up to 35 artists on a single show, with 7 in a half hour segment. One song and done.

  3. To be fair, it seems to me that in days of old, there were two differences. One, a lot of the songs were shorter. Two, some of the artists didn't talk before or after their songs, and in some cases the announcer made the introduction rather than the host. But it IS ridiculous today, no question.