Friday, January 6, 2012

2011 Grand Ole Opry Recap

With 2012 upon us, it is now time to do a recap of 2011 at the Grand Ole Opry, including show counts and member appearances. Looking at 2011, they year started with 67 Opry members. The current number entering 2012 is 65, as 4 members passed away in 2011 and 2 were added. Charlie Louvin, Mel McDaniel, Billy Grammer and Wilma Lee Cooper were those who passed, while the Oak Ridge Boys and Rascal Flatts were added.

Of the 65 Opry members, 3 are listed as retired. Those are Jeanne Pruett, Barbara Mandrell and Ricky Van Shelton. 1 Opry member as been unable to appear due to health issues and that is Hal Ketchum. That leaves 61 active Opry members. Of those 61 active members, 4 made no Opry appearances in 2011. Those 5 were Garth Brooks, Tom T Hall, Reba McEntire, Travis Tritt and Trisha Yearwood. With the exception of Tom T Hall, who has not appeared on the Opry in over 15 years, Travis Tritt is the Opry member who has gone the longest without appearing on the show. Travis made his last Opry appearance in 2007.

In 2011, there were a total of 181 Opry shows. That compares with 188 in 2010, 200 in 2009 and 201 in 2008. The breakdown last year was 53 Friday Night Opry shows, 72 Saturday night shows, 43 Tuesday Night Opry shows, 12 Opry Country Classics on Thursday night and 1 Saturday matinee show. The reduction in shows from last year was primarily from a reduction in the number of Opry Country Classics shows

Looking at the list of Opry members and the number of appearances they made in 2011, the leader was Jimmy Dickens, with 143. Considering that he is the Opry's oldest member, that is amazing. As I list the appearances for each Opry member, please remember in today's Opry world, an Opry member gets credit for appearing on the show no matter what night they appear. (Back in the old days, only Friday and Saturday night shows counted). Also, remember, particuarly in the case of the new members who have joined since Pete Fisher has been the Opry's general manager, he has asked each of the new members to commit to 10 shows per year.

Here is the top 10 in 2011 Opry appearances:
1) Jimmy Dickens-143
2) Bill Anderson-84
3) Jim Ed Brown-77
4) Jimmy C Newman-75
5) The Whites-74
6) Riders In The Sky-73
7) Jeannie Seely/Mike Snider-69
8) Connie Smith-63
9) Jean Shepard-61
10) John Conlee-58

As you can see, many of the Opry's legends and senior members are still carrying the bulk of the work load despite the efforts to make the Opry younger and more relevant.

Continuing on with the list, here are numbers 11-20:
11) Bobby Osborne-54
12) Jesse McReynolds-46
13) Jack Greene-44
14) Jan Howard-32
15) Del McCoury-26
16) George Hamilton IV-25
17) Diamond Rio-20
18) Vince Gill-18
19) Ricky Skaggs-17
20) Larry Gatlin/Pam Tillis-16

Now for the rest of those who made at least the 10 appearances asked for by management:
21) Charlie Daniels-12
22) Joe Diffie/Charley Pride/Steve Wariner-11
23) Terri Clark/Craig Morgan/Oak Ridge Boys-10

Of the Opry's 61 active members, only 29 made at least 10 appearances in 2011, or 47.5% of its members. Here is the rest of the list:
Ray Pillow/Marty Stuart-9
Mel Tillis/Josh Turner/Carrie Underwood-8
Rascal Flatts-7
Trace Adkins/Montgomery Gentry-6
Dierks Bentley/Stonewall Jackson/Martina McBride/Ralph Stanley-5
Alison Krauss/Ronnie Milsap/Lorrie Morgan/Stu Phillips/Blake Shelton-4
Clint Black/Emmylou Harris/Brad Paisley-3
Roy Clark/Patty Loveless-2
Alan Jackson/George Jones/Loretta Lynn/Dolly Parton/Randy Travis-1
Garth Brooks/Tom T Hall/Reba McEntire/Travis Tritt/Trisha Yearwood-0

Of the 61 active Opry members, 25 were segment hosts this past year. Here is that list:
1) Jimmy Dickens-106
2) Bill Anderson-65
3) Mike Snider-54
4) Riders In The Sky-44
5) Jeannie Seely-40
6) Jim Ed Brown-39
7) John Conlee-36
8) Vince Gill-17
9) Jean Shepard-16
10) Ricky Skaggs-9
11) Charley Pride/Marty Stuart/Pam Tillis/Larry Gatlin-8
12) Steve Wariner-7
13) The Whites-6
14) Mel Tillis-5
15) Ray Pillow-4
16) Emmylou Harris/Trace Adkins/George Hamilton IV/Diamond Rio-3
17) Ronnie Milsap-2
18) Lorrie Morgan/Roy Clark-1

In 2011, a total of 215 non-Opry members made guest appearances on at least one of the Opry shows, with many of these making their first appearance ever. Of the non-members, here were the top 8 in 2011:

1) Mandy Barnett-26
2) Jimmy Wayne-17
3) Dailey & VincentJames Wesley-14
4) Elizabeth Cook/The GrascalsMark Wills-12
5) Holly Williams-11
6) Sarah Darling/Restless Heart/Joey+Rory/Edens Edge-10
7) Rebecca Lynn Howard/Exile/Rodney Atkins/Darryl Worley/Gene Watson/Jim Lauderdale-8
8) Point of Grace/Brett Eldridge/T.G. Sheppard-7
8) Rhonda Vincent/Suzy Bogguss/Josh Thompson-6

That is the recap of 2011. I think it is interesting to go back and look at the numbers. Many of the Opry's members have done a great job fulfilling their obligations to the show. I think a number of the legends would have made more Opry appearances if asked. But, there are still a great number of Opry members who need to step up their appearances. I know we have covered this before, but there is no excuse for some of these artists to be showing up once or twice per year and calling themselves Opry members, especially when they still have active careers going.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this look back.


  1. Great job as always, Byron, and I'm with you: it's time to tell some members to put up or shut up. I think the 9/8/7 group is fine, but the others ... I'm surprised by Ralph Stanley and disappointed in those with fewer appearances than he has.

  2. Mike: I know Ralph has been slowing down lately and not making as many appearances as he used to. Another one that surprises me is Marty Stuart. Down to just 9 appearances, which is less than half of what he had the year before.

    And I agree with you. I don't have a problem with those who are there 5 or more times. At least that is something. But for those at 1 or 2 appearances---no excuse!!


  3. I imagine Stonewall Jackson would appear more if he was asked.

  4. Probably being punished for his lawsuit.

    -- Fred in Bismarck

  5. After Stonewall settled his lawsuit, his appearances went back up above 20. This past year was the first that he was really down compared to the past several.

    A couple of factors might be explained for it. First, I do know that Stonewall has had a few minor health issues this past year. And secondly, the Opry has what they call members who are senior Opry members.(or senior status). I know Ray Pillow and Stu Phillips are in that group. Before they passed away, Charlie Walker and Charlie Louvin were there. There are others. Stonewall might have been bumped into that category. The wording is part of the union contract that the musicians have with the Opry. Part of that status basically relates to benefits, but it also allows the management to schedule those members less.


  6. I find it fascinating that the group on "senior status" includes Stonewall Jackson and Ray Pillow, who sound pretty much like they always have, and included Charlie Louvin, whose treatment by the Opry continues to amaze me. Not just because he was, after all, a Hall of Famer. Because he was so big with younger groups. If Fisher really wanted to reach younger audiences, he could have used Louvin more with the younger artists, even outside country music, who worshiped him. This would have gotten a different group into the Opry audience who would have said, gee, Louvin isn't the only old-timer we like. How about that Cajun accordion? How about the little guy with the jokes and the crazy songs? Sad, sad, sad.

  7. so what happened to Lorrie Morgan; as you mentioned, the shows this weekend are weak, weak, WEAK;
    we love Bill Anderson and all of the legendary performers who are true to the Opry and the ones
    who would be if they were invited to be there; it used to be that the Gaylord secretary called around
    town each week to see who would be available - not sure how they do it now, but you would think that the Birthday weekend
    would cause them to create a really good line-up -= have you seen how many people are in town this weekend (and it's not for Disney on Ice downtown !!) not impressed with the list for Friday and Saturday; Ricky Skaggs show on the matinee should be good; we have seen him before and he does a good show