Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Grand Ole Opry's 61st Birthday Celebration--October 11, 1986

As I promised to do, I am going to spend some time in October, which is the Opry's birthday month, of publishing some of the line ups from past birthday shows. For many years, the Opry's birthday was part of the annual disc jockey convention in Nashville and for the Opry's members, it was one of their most important weekends of the year. That was during the time when radio stations tended to be owned by small operators who programmed their own music. Once a year they had a big convention in Nashville and it was tied into the Opry's birthday celebration. In fact, the birthday shows grew out of the convention.

For the radio station people, it was like old home week. They got to see many of the stars that they grew to know from past conventions, or when they appeared in their own towns and the radio stations were part of the sponsorship. For the artists, it was a chance to be seen and to promote themselves. This was especially important for the new young artists, who depended on the radio station disc jockeys to play their songs. Most of the artists did private shows during the week. Another feature was that almost every disc jockey carried around a tape recorder and the artists would be taped doing station identifications and other promos for the stations.

A video was put out a number of years ago that covered the week. It is called, "The Nashville Sound" and it is priced at under $20 at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. It is a good one to see and it features many Opry performances.

Anyways, the first line up I want to post is from October 11, 1986, 25 years ago. It was the Opry's 61st birthday celebration and it was tied into that year's convention. You will notice from the line up, and it shows up in many of those earlier shows, the Opry's formal celebration with the cake normally took place during the 2nd show. It was after the shows started being televised that the focus of the celebration switched to the 1st show.

Here is the running order and song list for both shows on October 11, 1986:

1st Show:
6:30 Bonanza
Jim Ed Brown (host): Looking Back To See
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Osborne Brothers: Once More
Jim Ed Brown: Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On

6:45 Rudy's
Charlie Walker (host): The Mean Woman With The Green Eyes
4 Guys: The Grandest Lady Of Them All
Charlie Walker & Joe Edwards: Ida Red

7:00 Shoney's
Tom T Hall (host): The Year That Clayton Delaney Died
David Houston: No One Will Ever Know/Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
Hank Locklin: Danny Boy
Ed Bruce: The Streets Of Laredo/You're The Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had
Tom T Hall: Old Dogs & Children & Watermelon Wine

7:30 Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
The Whites: It Should Have Been Easy
Connie Smith: Hold Me Back
Crook Brothers & Melvin Sloan Dancers
Minnie Pearl: Comedy
Roy Acuff: Meeting In The Air

8:00 Martha White
Bill Monroe (host): Molly & Tenbrooks
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Jean Shepard: Second Fiddle
Riders In The Sky: Teardrops In My Heart
Roy Drusky & Riders In The Sky: Cool Water
Bill Monroe: Lord, Protect My Soul

8:30 Music Valley Merchants
Hank Snow (host): Forever +1; Forever +2
Lorrie Morgan: Do I Love You
Billy Walker: Am I Blue
Del Wood: 12th St. Rag
Stu Phillips: The Great El Tigre
Hank Snow: Nevertheless/Nova Scotia

2nd Show:
9:30 Dollar General
Bill Monroe (host): Uncle Pen
4 Guys: Fox On The Run
Jeannie Seely: All I Need To Know
Tom T Hall: P.S. I Love You/I'm Not That Good At Goodbyes
Bill Monroe: The Boat Of Love

10:00 Little Debbie
Stonewall Jackson (host): Don't Be Angry
Jan Howard: You Don't Know Me
Bill Carlisle: Leave That Liar Alone
Stonewall Jackson: Old Chunk Of Coal

10:15 Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting In The Air
Charlie Louvin: I Can't Help It/Mansion On The Hill
Roy Thackerson: Orange Blossom Special/Ragtime Annie
Roy Acuff & Everyone: Happy Birthday Grand Ole Opry

10:30 Pet Milk
Jim Ed Brown (host): Everyday People
Ed Bruce: Nights Are The Lonliest Part Of The Day
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells

10:45 Heil Quaker
Billy Walker (host): Word Games
The Whites: Blue Letters
Crook Brothers & Melvin Sloan Dancers: Bill Cheatham
Billy Walker: You Gave Me A Mountain/Charlie's Shoes

11:00 Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Right Or Wrong
Jean Shepard: Slippin' Away
Justin Tubb: Thankss Troubadour, Thanks
Hank Locklin: Please Help Me I'm Falling
Connie Smih: Hold Me Back
David Houston: Living In A House Full Of Love
Hank Snow: It Kinda Reminds Me Of Me/Nova Scotia

11:30 Quincy's
Jack Greene (host): Midnight Tennessee Woman
Lorrie Morgan: Unchained Melody
Roy Drusky: Mississippi
Riders In The Sky: How The Yodel Was Born
Johnny Russell: No One Will Ever Know

Now, for those counting at home, especially after the mess of this year's birthday show with only 9 artists on the first show and 11 on the 2nd, 1986 had 23 on the line up, while the 2nd show had 24 artists on (not counting the musical numbers.

I hope you enjoy and will have more birthday shows coming.


  1. Barry chiming in.....

    Anybody else notice that on these shows more star power was packed into the last hour of each show than they had the entire show on Saturday night? Just another reason I rarely listen to the show all the way through anymore. It makes me a little sad.

    Roy Thackerson, who appeared on Acuff's portion of the late show, is an interesting person. His name showed up on several of my lineups from the 80's and I vaguely remembered that he was a fiddle player that Roy seemed to like and brought him to the Opry on several occasions. So a while back I looked him up online and he's quite a fascinating character....and still active down in Texas. Your readers may enjoy learning more about the "Fingerless Fiddler" at

  2. Barry, you are right about the spreading of talent in the earlier shows. Every segment was almost evenly spread out with the top performers, giving a reason for the audience to stay until the end of the show. Also, in the earlier days, the Opry would sometimes pull a surprise or two, and if they did, it would usually take place later in the evening.

    And you are right about Roy Thackerson. He shows up quite a bit on the Opry in the 1980s, and almost always on Roy's segment.

  3. Roy Thackerson is still active here in Texas and planning on being more active. I will be retired very shortly and we plan on traveling and making music everywhere we go. Looking forward to making a lot of new friends! Yes, Roy is most definately a "character!"

    Roy Acuff and Roy were very good friends. Roy T. judged the National Fiddle Contest in Nashville, Tn. for about 17 years and became friends with Acuff during that time.