Thursday, April 26, 2012

Grand Ole Opry 4/27 & 4/28

After the Opry induction of Keith Urban last weekend, things are back to normal at the Grand Ole Opry as they have posted their line-up for the 3 shows this weekend. Actually, they have posted their 2nd line-up for the weekend as after the first one went up, Jimmy Dickens cancelled out for all 3 shows this weekend, making for an immediate change.

The biggest was that on Saturday night for both shows, they turned the first segment into an hour, with Mike Snider hosting on both shows. I find that amazing that they either didn't have enough hosts available for 4 segments or enough artists to fill 4 segments, take your pick. My thought regarding the hosts is that on Saturday night, both The Whites and Diamond Rio are on both shows, and they are certainly capable of hosting a segment. As far as the other thought of not enough talent for 4 segments, there are only 11 artists scheduled for both shows, so there might be something to that one.

After pretty good line-ups last weekend, the shows this weekend are not as strong. The Friday Night Opry will feature Opry members Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers and Del McCoury, along with non-Opry members Will Hoge, Sarah Darling and John Michael Montgomery. In addition to those already mentioned, the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night will feature non-members Tyler Farr, George Ducas and Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys, who I will say are very entertaining. They have a new album out that is pretty good.

Friday April 27
7:00: John Conlee (host); Jesse McReynolds; Greg Bates
7:30: Ray Pillow (host); Sarah Darling; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Mike Snider (host); The Whites; John Michael Montgomery
8:45: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (host); Will Hoge; Connie Smith

Saturday April 28
1st show
7:00: Mike Snider (host); The Whites; Tyler Farr; George Ducas; Diamond Rio
8:00: Jean Shepard (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Sarah Darling; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: John Conlee (host); Mallary Hope; Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys

2nd show
9:30: Mike Snider (host); The Whites; Tyler Farr; George Ducas; Diamond Rio
10:30: Jean Shepard (host); Jan Howard; Sarah Darling; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: John Conlee (host); Mallary Hope; Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys

For Friday night, that comes out to 12 acts of whom 8 are Opry members, while the 2 Saturday shows have 11 acts of whom 6 are Opry members. Only 6 Opry members on an Opry show!! That is shameful.

The Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree will be hosted by Bobby Osborne.

The Tuesday Night Opry on May 1 will feature the following line-up:

7:00: Jimmy C Newman; Dustin Lynch
7:30: Jimmy Dickens; Point Of Grace
8:15: Jean Shepard; Elizabeth Cook
8:45: John Conlee; Del McCoury Band

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"Noteworthy at the Opry"-featuring Keith Urban's Opry Induction

Last night I watched the new GAC show, "Noteworthy at the Opry", which featured the induction of Keith Urban as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. In addition to Keith, the show featured Trace Adkins and Josh Turner, along with Nan Kelly as the host. Let's just say after watching the show that I was not impressed.

As I said, Nan Kelley was the host and they had her up in the balcony in section 22. When they pictured her doing the introductions of the artists, you could see the Opry stage behind her. The show started with Trace Adkins walking behind the Opry stage giving a brief introduction of the show and Keith Urban. Then they went up to Nan and she did the introduction of Keith and the curtain went up and Keith went into his first song. Immediately after that, they cut to Marty Stuart and others giving interviews and comments about the Opry and Keith.

In addition to Marty, the interviews featured Trace Adkins, Nan Kelley, Peter Cooper of the Tennessean, John Mayer, Lee Ann Womack and Kerry Collins, the NFL quarterback. I may have missed one or two others. They also included Keith talking about his life, with a bunch of still pictures and silent videos about his career. As far as the Opry, while talking about the tradition of the Opry, they had pictures of Porter & Dolly, George & Tammy, along with George D. Hay. Finally, they did mention Roy Acuff and had a picture of him in dressing room #1 with Gene Autry and Minnie Pearl. They also showed the video of Vince Gill from the "All for the Hall" show with the surprise announcement of Keith becoming the Opry's newest member.

Trace Adkins came out and did one song, as did Josh Turner. As they were performing, I did notice that they added a bank of lights at the foot of the Opry stage where the old floodlights used to be. They were not there last week, so I assume they were added for the television show.

At about half past the hour, they did the induction of Keith. He was joined on stage by Josh Turner, Trace Adkins and Opry vice-president and general manager Peter Fisher. Josh started off with a short joke about being an Opry member for only 5 years, while Trace was an Opry member much longer, so he handed it off to Trace. It was kind of funny because it was obvious that Josh was reading his line off the telepromter in the back and he had trouble doing that. Anyways, Trace made a short introduction and then Pete Fisher made his usual comments about the significance of the member award he was giving to Keith and then he handed it back to Trace who gave the award to Keith and then Keith went into a pretty long speech that sounded like he was accepting an academy award. There were no special guests who came out, although they did show a video from Brad Paisley, and that was it.

After the induction of Keith, Josh and Keith each did a final song and the show ended. What struck me about the show, besides the length of the commercials, was the fact that there seemed very little music compared to the previous Opry shows that GAC did, if that is possible. I know the artists did more songs for the Opry audience during the commercial breaks, but for the television audience, there wasn't much. Obviously, the focus on this new series will be getting to know the artists in addition to the music.

This was advertised as a sneak preview of the new series on GAC that will debut on the network on Saturday May 26 and will run for 16 weeks. There is no indication whether or not the show will be live or taped at the Tuesday Night Opry, or a combination of both. For those attending the Saturday night shows, I hope for them that they tape this series from the Tuesday Night Opry. While no additional artists were announced for future shows, I see Alan Jackson is scheduled for an upcoming Tuesday Night Opry, so I would not be surprised if he was an upcoming feature.

As usual with a GAC Opry show, there were no legends, not even Jimmy Dickens. I would have liked to have seen one of the legends come out to do the Opry induction, just to give it some significance. And I was actually surprised that nobody else showed up to welcome Keith into the family.

On a final note, I did watch the Marty Stuart show last night as it featured just Marty and his band, along with his new album. It was a very good show. Connie Smith did a lot of the taped introductions and they had interviews with Marty and behind the scenes pictures of Marty and his group. They also talked about the new album and Marty sang several numbers from it. Buck Trent was featured along with the daughter of Anita Carter, who was fantastic singing harmony with Marty. Sorry, I missed her first name. For true country music, Marty's show was much better than the Opry last night.

If you missed the GAC show, it will be shown about a dozen times over the next week.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Grand Ole Opry 4/20 & 4/21--Updated

A couple of updates to the line up for this weekend. Looking at the Friday Night Opry, Mark Wills has been added to the 1st segment and The Secret Sisters moved to the final segment. Jan Howard has cancelled out. For the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night, the comment originally made that both shows featured only Opry members is out the window as Love and Theft has been added for both shows. The Whites have been moved from the 2nd segment to the 1st segment and Love and Theft took over The Whites previous segment. One the 2nd show, Love and Theft have been added to the 3rd segment. The updated line up is featured below.

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the schedule for the shows this weekend. There is 1 show on Friday night and 2 shows on Saturday night. Of course, the big news this weekend is the formal Opry induction of Keith Urban as the newest member. That will take place during the 1st show on Saturday night and GAC will be televising it live. And, as you will see from the line-up, the Opry and GAC are both up to their old tricks of having only 3 acts scheduled for the hour that is being televised. You would hope that there will be some special appearances by someone that night, as I cannot believe that Trace Adkins would be doing the formal induction.

Before leaving GAC, the show on Saturday night will be the premier show for their new series, "Noteworthy at the Opry." According to GAC, this new series "will feature musical performances and personal, inside stories from the top acts in country music coupled with interviews with artists from multiple musical genres and other celebrities about the artists and music featured in each episode." You will notice that it does not say that the show will feature Opry members. I do not know if it will be a live weekly series or if the show will only be on when the Opry has the "right" artists on.

On another note from the television front, TNN is coming back on the air. That's right!! It is scheduled to come back this coming summer. Jim Owens is behind this effort as he bought the rights to the name and also to a number of the shows that were formally on the network. It will not be a specific cable channel, but they are attempting to have local affiliates that will serve as network carriers. Among the shows that are currently scheduled to air are, "Memories of the Grand Ole Opry", "Crook & Chase", "Celebrity Kitchen", "The Country Vibe", "Music City Tonight", "Larry's Country Diner." Most of these shows will be re-broadcasts from the old TNN shows, but with support, it could be successful.

Getting back to the Opry, one of the highlights for this weekend is the scheduled return of Jean Shepard, who is scheduled for both nights. Jean has been gone from the Opry for a number of weeks and after hearing some of the news that I heard while in Nashville last weekend, I was very surprised to see her on the schedule. I am glad to see her feeling better. Joining Jean on the Friday night Opry will be Opry members Marty Stuart and Diamond Rio, along with guest artists The Secret Sisters and John Anderson.

The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night, in addition to the induction of Keith Urban, will also feature Opry members Josh Turner and Trace Adkins.

Friday April 20
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Jim Ed Brown; Jean Shepard; Mark Wills
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds; John Anderson
8:15: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy C Newman; Diamond Rio
8:45: Marty Stuart (host); The Whites; Connie Smith; The Secret Sisters

Saturday April 21
1st show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; The Whites
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jeannie Seely; Love and Theft
8:00: Keith Urban; Trace Adkins; Josh Turner

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Josh Turner
10:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Love and Theft
10:30: Riders In The Sky (host); George Hamilton IV; Trace Adkins; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Keith Urban

With only 8 artist on the 1st show on Saturday night, which is shameful by the way, the Opry "loaded" up with 14 artists on Friday night, while the 2nd Saturday show will feature 11 acts. On Friday night, 12 of the 14 are Opry members, while the Saturday shows will feature, at this point, all Opry members. But, I find it sad that with a new member joining, only 8 Opry members will be there for that show.

The Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree will be hosted by the Stoneman's. I had an opportunity to see them host the Jamboree a couple of years back, and they are outstanding. Of course, they should have been scheduled for the Opry on Saturday night.

Congratulations again go to Keith Urban on his induction as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry and my hope is that after he joins, he remembers where the Opry House is and will come back and visit often.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Observations From The Opry

I spent Saturday night at the Grand Ole Opry, and wanted to offer a couple of observations on what I saw and heard:

The attendance was pretty good for the 1st show. I would say around 3500. The lower level was about filled and the balcony had people sitting in all sections except for the upper balcony in the wings. The 2nd show was a different story. I would say about 1000-1200. The lower level had section 3, 4 and 5 filled to about the middle, while the side and back sections, except for a scattering of people, were basically empty. The lower balcony had people seated in it, but the upper balcony was all but empty. From what I heard, the Friday crowd was pretty good, up around 3500.

With Opry Mills back open again, the traffic getting in and out of the Opry was very heavy and the parking spaces available were in the back areas of the parking lot. I do believe that the Opry needs to work with the mall to block off a section of parking closer to the Opry House just for the Opry. Those few coming to the 2nd show had a serious walk.

Jimmy Dickens looked and sounded great. I know he had missed a few weeks and sounded pretty bad prior to that. He came back last week so I was curious to see if he would hold up 2 weeks in a row, with 3 shows for the weekend. He did fine. I will also say that Connie Smith, Jeannie Seely, Bill Anderson and Jimmy C Newman, which comprised the legends who appeared on Saturday night, all looked and sounded great also.

This was the 1st time that I saw Hunter Hayes. Let's just say that the young girls loved him. He is about 20 or 21 and looks 15. He stood next to Jimmy Dickens at one point and looked like he was only an inch or two taller than Jimmy. But, he had a good time. He has a following and really played up to the crowd. He also stated that this weekend was the first time that the Opry allowed him to use his own band. I found that comment interesting.

Gary Morris was very good. He looked like he just walked out of a bar after sitting on a stool for 10 years. In other words, very rough. But, appearances can fool you and his voice was awesome as he sang 2 ballads. Part of the reason why the shows ran long was because he took a long time singing his songs. Lonestar was also very well received. And they sang a couple of their hits which fans immediately recognized. That is important to me as I hate to go to the Opry, spend a lot of money on tickets, and then the act sings a song you never heard of before.

Suzy Bogguss is great. There is no other words to describe her. Her voice is crystal clear and she has aged well, if you know what I mean. She seemed to enjoy the Opry and I know she has made several appearances over the past year. She was cut to 1 song during the 1st show and did 2 on the second.

And, speaking of the length of the show. There were 2 shows on Saturday night, which meant that the first show had a time limit. After the 2nd segment of the show, which featured Gary Morris and Hunter Hayes, the show was running about 20 minutes long. And that meant cuts. The Whites, Suzy Bogguss and Connie Smith were each cut to 1 song. And it seemed like Ricky Skaggs really moved through his second song. Even with that, the show ran about 5-10 minutes over. The second show ran over by about 15 or 20 minutes. Nothing wrong with that. And I don't know about anyone else, but when there are 2 shows on Saturday night, I seem to enjoy the 2nd show much better. It was the same entertainers as the first show, but the pace seemed slower and the artists were able to enjoy themselves more

I mentioned Ricky Skaggs, and no he has not cut his hair and he did not lose any weight. But Ricky is still Ricky and the fans enjoyed him. And during the 2nd show, Connie Smith and Buck White came out and joined the square dancers. Nice to see that, especially at their age. And I do enjoy when artists come out and join the dancers.

My other mention is the shame of the Opry in allowing the legends to sing only 1 song while allowing some of the guest artists to do more. For example, on Friday night, Jesse McReynolds and Bobby Osborne were each allowed to do only 1 song while Hunter Hayes did 3. On Saturday night, Jimmy C Newman did just 1 song on each show, the same as The Whites and Connie Smith.

Many of us thought there was less music on the Opry these days and Saturday seemed to confirm it. During the first show, there were 12 artists. Those 12 artists did a total of 18 songs, plus one more if you count the square dancing. We did get 21 songs on the 2nd show, but those are pretty low numbers.

Bobby G. Rice hosted the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree and did a very nice job. He should have been on the Opry also.

I did find it interesting that hardly a word was said about Keith Urban joining the Opry. There were no big announcements at the Opry House or a push to sell tickets, although I am sure both shows this Saturday will be sell-outs. But tickets were available.

To sum up the weekend, it was not the best Opry show I ever saw, but it was not the worst. The artists all performed well and everyone seemed to have a great time. I enjoyed the weekend and will be back soon.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Grand Ole Opry 4/13 & 4/14

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the schedules for the shows this weekend. There will be one show on Friday night and two shows on Saturday night. I am headed down to the Opry this weekend and will be at the shows, so as usual, I will offer my observations when I get back on Monday.

As far as this weekend's shows, Opry member Ricky Skaggs will be featured on all 3 shows this weekend. He will be joined on both nights by Opry members Bill Anderson, Jimmy Dickens, Jeannie Seely, Connie Smith and The Whites, while non-Opry members Gary Morris Hunter Hayes will join them.

The Friday Night Opry will feature the Opry debut of Jana Kramer, the latest in a long line of new artists who have been making their initial Opry appearances, while Friday's show will also feature Thompson Square. Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will feature Opry member Craig Morgan and guest artists Lonestar and Suzy Bogguss.

Friday April 13
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Connie Smith; Jana Kramer
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds; Hunter Hayes
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Thompson Square
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Gary Morris

Saturday April 14
1st show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Lonestar
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Gary Morris; Hunter Hayes
8:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Suzy Bogguss; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Connie Smith; Craig Morgan

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Lonestar
10:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Gary Morris; Craig Morgan
10:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Hunter Hayes; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Connie Smith; Suzy Bogguss

That comes out to 12 artists for each of the 3 show, with 8 Opry members on each show.

The Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree will be hosted by Riders In The Sky.

The Opry has also posted the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, which will feature Martina McBride.

7:00: Jim Ed Brown; Josh Abbott Band
7:30: Jimmy Dickens; Aaron Tippin
8:15: Bill Anderson; Diamond Rio
8:45: Martina McBride

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Keith Urban Invited to Join Grand Ole Opry

At last night's "All for the Hall" show in Nashville, Vince Gill surprised Keith Urban with an invitation to become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. The induction will take place on Saturday April 21. When he officially becomes the Opry's newest member, he will become the first Opry member not be have been born in North America.

After Vince made the surprise invitation, Keith responded by saying,"I don't know what to say. Gosh, man, thank you to everyone at the Grand Ole Opry tonight. I'm shocked. It's a huge honor and how beauiful to have this happen tonight of all nights. I so appreciate this." As he made those comments he was joined on stage by Opry members Oak Ridge Boys, Diamond Rio and Rascal Flatts, all of whom had participated in the show.

While Keith may have claimed he was surprised by the invitation, those of you who have kept up on my comments know that this was something that I had speculated would happen at some point. I have sure Keith will be a fine Opry member. As with all new Opry members, my hope is that they will support the show and actually appear on the Opry stage. Only time will tell.

Congratulations to Keith and I am sure all of us will have more to say on this.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tuesday Night Opry 4/10 & Opry Country Classics 4/12

Here are the lineups for the mid-week Opry shows this coming week:

Tuesday Night Opry, April 10
7:00: Riders In The Sky; Sarah Darling
7:30: Jimmy Dickens; The Black Lillies
8:15: John Conlee; Danny Gokey
8:45: Gene Watson; Del McCoury Band

Opry Country Classics, April 12
Host: Larry Gatlin
Also Appearing: Sarah Darling; Steel Magnolia; Rhonda Vincent; Gene Watson; The Whites

Friday, April 6, 2012

April 6, 1968-The Night the Opry Was Canceled

This is reprinted from "The Grand Ole Opry History of Country Music."

For seventy years the Opry has always gone on unfailingly, with the exception of one night. There was good reason to cancel the show scheduled for April 6, 1968. Two days earlier, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated in Memphis, touching off a firestorm of riots in Memphis, Chicago, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati the following day. Local officials in Nashville imposed a 7:00 p.m. curfew in an effort to head off any potential problems. For the Opry, this meant no studio audience and no live show. They had to broadcast a tape of a previous show.

Because events had transpired so quickly, no advance announcement had been made to inform out-of-town visitors about the cancellation. When a small crowd gathered outside the Ryman that afternoon, Roy Acuff couldn't bear to turn them away without a least some kind of show. So he invited everyone to his museum just around the corner on Broadway. Acuff had owned the building since 1965 and used the first floor to house his museum and to provide dressing space for himself and his band. Upstairs was a space used for square dances. That's where Acuff and other Opry performers put on an impromptu show for those lucky enough to be on hand. Afterwards, everyone who had purchased a ticket to the Opry got a backstage tour of the Ryman.

Despite the prevailing spirit of goodwill among the performers and fans, it was a disappointing night for Opry officials. They had planned a special tribute to Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs in honor of their twentieth year together and their fifteenth year of sponsorship by Martha White Flour. The night was also disappointing to E.W. "Bud" Wendell, for it was to be his inaugural show as the Opry's new manager, having succeeded the retiring Ott Devine. Wendell, who hailed from Akron, Ohio, had followed in the footsteps of his father, a National Life Insurance salesman. With an economics degree from Wooster College, he joined National Life in 1950, becoming administrative assistant to WSM President Jack DeWitt in 1964.

Wendell immediately endured himself to the Opry cast by announcing that all performers who had been scheduled to perform April 6 would be paid for that evening. A few weeks later, someone asked Grandpa Jones what he thought of the new manager. "He's great," said Grandpa, who had his own measure for a good boss. "He's brought in some coffee and lemonade backstage."

I thought I would reprint this story as I felt it was well done.

A few more details on that show at the square dance hall. It started at 2:00 p.m. and in addition to Roy Acuff, the show featured the Smoky Mountain Boys, Harold Weakley, along with Sam and Kirk McGee. The reason given for not using the Ryman for an afternoon show was because it would have required a police presence due to the large crowd that would have attended and there were no police available.

So, technically, by playing a taped show, WSM can claim that the Opry has never missed a Saturday night, but as far as a live show, the Opry has missed one in its history.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Grand Ole Opry 4/6 & 4/7

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the schedule for the Friday Night Opry and the Grand Ole Opry for this weekend. There is the usual 1 show on Friday night and just 1 show this Saturday night, with Easter Sunday the following day.

Dailey & Vincent will be visiting the Opry on both Friday and Saturday night this weekend. They will be joined on Friday night by The Farm, who will be making a return Opry appearance, along with Opry favorite Mark Wills.

The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night will feature frequent Opry guests Steel Magnolia and Darryl Worley. And, on both shows this weekend, Jimmy Dickens is schedule to return to the Opry after missing the last several weeks. It will be interesting to hear how he sounds. Jean Shepard and Jack Greene remain among the missing.

Friday April 6
7:00: Mike Snider (host); John Conlee; The Farm
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Mark Wills
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Johnny Counterfit; Lee Brice
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Connie Smith; Dailey & Vincent

Saturday April 7
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; James Wesley
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jim Ed Brown; Steel Magnolia
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; Dailey & Vincent; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: John Conlee (host); Jesse McReynolds; Riders In The Sky; Darryl Worley

That comes out to 12 artists for Friday night and 13 for Saturday night. On the Friday show there are 7 Opry members and 9 Opry members on Saturday night.

Janie Fricke is hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree on Saturday night/Sunday morning after the Opry. I know she is doing Opry Country Classics on Thursday night, but it would sure be nice to see her on the Opry on Friday or Saturday night. She doesn't make the trip up from Texas that often.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday Night Opry 4/3 & Opry Country Classics 4/5

Here is the line up for the Tuesday Night Opry, April 3:

7:00: Jimmy C Newman; Oak Ridge Boys
7:30: Mandy Barnett; John Berry
8:15: Bill Anderson; Point Of Grace
8:45: The Whites; The Steeldrivers

A pretty nice Tuesday Night Opry. Nice to see John Berry on the schedule. In the country music world, he has kind of faded away.

Here is the line up for Opry Country Classics on Thursday April 5 at the Ryman Auditorium:

Host: Larry Gatlin
Featuring: Lynn Anderson; Janie Fricke; Lorrie Morgan; Jeannie Seely; Pam Tillis

This is an excellent line up for the classics show and I am sure Larry will have a great time with this nice group of talented ladies.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Opry Highlights

As I do each month, here are the important and historical events that have taken place in Grand Ole Opry history during the month of April.

April 29, 1933: The Delmore Brothers, Rabon and Alton, made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. They stayed as members until 1938. Alton would later have a book published that he wrote called "Truth Is Stranger", that really details their stay at the Opry and in their view, what happened with George D. Hay and Harry Stone that caused them to leave the Opry.

April 26, 1941: Ernest Tubb records "Walking The Floor Over You". The recording took place in Dallas, Texas and was one of the first country records to feature a prominent electric guitar. The success of this record would lead to Ernest joining the Opry in 1943.

April 14, 1945: Upon the death of President Franklin Roosevelt, a performance of "Taps" was played on the stage of the Opry, which marked the first time that a trumpet was played during an Opry performance. Let's just say that George D. Hay was not happy about that.

April 6, 1946: Roy Acuff quit the Grand Ole Opry in a salary dispute. At the time, he was the host of "The Prince Albert Show" segment of the Opry that aired on the NBC radio network. He was making $15.00 per night on the Opry and asked for a raise to $100 per night. Roy never really talked about this episode in his Opry career, but there was pride involved on both sides. He was the Opry's biggest star and he knew that if he was on the road he could make more money and also have time to appear in movies. He wanted that recognized by both the Opry and the sponsor and when they refused what he considered a fair rate of pay, he left.

April 13, 1946: Chet Atkins makes his first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry. He was introduced by Red Foley. Chet later told the story, "I ran into Red in his manager's office. Actually, I had gone to Chicago to try to meet Foley. Anyway, I played a tune for him and sure enough he said, 'How'd you like to go to Nashville with me, Ches?' Dreams do come true sometimes." Chet stayed with Red and "The Prince Albert Show" for about 6 months, and then he quit after a dispute with the Esty Agency, who represented R.J. Reynolds Tabacco Company.

April 13, 1946: Red Foley debuted as the host of "The Prince Albert Show" on the NBC radio network. He also became an Opry member on this date. After Roy Acuff quit as a member of the Opry and as host of the show, William Esty and Company, which was the advertising agency that represented R.J. Reynolds Tabacco Company, the makers of Prince Albert, undertook a broadly based survey to determine how best to replace Roy. Most listeners wanted the Opry to continue without changes. But it came clear after all of the questioning that a large percentage of Opry fans really wanted more music on the show, suggesting the need to replace Roy with an entertainer who was basically a singer. Esty checked all of the available data, which included record sales, jukebox plays and radio favorites and it all came down to Red Foley. Red would later say, "I guess I was never more scared than I was that night I replaced Roy Acuff. The people thought I was a Chicago slicker who had come to pass himself off as a country boy and bump Roy out of his job." Minnie Pearl would call Red the best looking thing she had seen.

April 26, 1947: After leaving the Opry the previous year due to a contract dispute, Roy Acuff returned to the Opry as the host of the Royal Crown Cola Show. As the story goes, Ernest Tubb and Harry Stone visited Roy in a Nashville hosptial and Harry told him, "Roy, the Opry is losing many of its people, and it looks like maybe we're going under if you don't come back and be with us. Please come and help us out. Roy, you mean everything. We wish that you would change your mind and ome back." While there is no evidence that the Opry was about to go under, the speech to Roy accomplished what it meant to do and Roy rejoined the Opry. where he would stay for the remainder of his life.

April 3, 1948: The Louisiana Hayride starts with its 1st performance on KWKH in Shreveport. Over the next decade, a large number of the Opry's new members would come from this show. Those included David Houston, Billy Walker, Webb Pierce, Jim Reeves, Faron Young, and Hank Williams, among so many others.

April 26, 1952: Martha Carson joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. She came to the Opry on the strength of her hit, "Satisfied." She remained on the Opry until her first child was born in 1957 and then she took a sabbatical, which also included a year of working in New York. According to Martha, "I got a leave of absence from the Opry. I didn't quit and I wasn't fired. When I came back to Nashville, Opry manager Ott Devine said they had no openings. I never did go back. I never even got to be a guest."

April 12 1958: Don Gibson joined the Grand Ole Opry. Don would be a member of the cast until being fired in December 1964 for failing to make the required number of appearances on the show. In 1975, he would rejoin the show and remain a member until his death on November 17, 2003. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001. Although he rejoined the Opry, he never really made too many appearances after coming back.

April 30, 1966: Ray Pillow joins the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Ray's 46th year as an Opry member. He was introduced by Ernest Tubb.

April 1, 1967: The Country Music Hall of Fame opens in Nashville. Over the years, members of the Grand Ole Opry would comprise a large number of the Hall of Fame's members.

April 22, 1967: The 4 Guys joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. The would remain Opry members until being fired by new Opry general manager Pete Fisher in April 2000. They spent 33 years as Opry members and the reason given for their dismissal was the fact that all of the original members of the 4 Guys were no longer current members.

April 6, 1968: Following the assassination of Reverand Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, the city of Nashville imposed a curfew that forced the Orpy to cancel it live performance for the first and only time in the history of the show. WSM and the Opry aired a previously taped version of the show. However, Roy Acuff, Sam and Kirk McGee, and a few other performers put on a makeshit show at a nearby square dance hall for Orpy fans that afternoon. Also on this date, Bud Wendell succeeds Ott Devine as the Opry's manager. Ott had become the Opry's manager in 1959.

April 21, 1971: Connie Smith rejoined the Grand Ole Opry after taking a break to raise her children.

April 27, 1971: Opryland opened for the 1st time. The park was an immediate hit.

April 12, 1972: The first "Fan Fair" was held in Nashville. It ran from April 12 through the 15th.

April 2, 1977: Vito Pellettieri worked his final show as the Opry's stage manager. He suffered a stroke several days later and on April 14 he passed away at the age of 87. While very few have heard of Vito, he was probably one of the most influential people in the history of the Opry. So much so that he was never replaced as the stage manager. Years after his death, one veteran Opry member was quoted as saying, "I miss Vito. You know, we don't have a marshall anymore. What we have out there is a piece of paper in a box, with a list of the acts and when they're supposed to go on. But we don't have anybody encouraging us, goading us, giving us advise on how to do better. Nobody to jack us up." One of Vito's closest friends was Hank Snow, and Hank writes extensively about Vito in his autobiography. For those who do not know, Vito was the WSM librarian and started as the Opry's stage manager in 1934. Here is what Vito said of his 1st night as at the Opry, " I went home, took me a big drink, and told my wife there wasn't enough devils in Hell to ever drag me back there." But he did go back, because as he later said, he needed the money. Vito was the one who set the Opry up on a schedule, broke the show into segments and assigned the performers a specific time slot. Before that, the show was a free-for-all. To show what the Opry's members thought of Vito, in mid 1959, it was announced that he faced mandatory retirement from both of his positions at WSM (music librarian and Opry stage manager). Immediately, the Grand Ole Opry performers, every one of them, signed a petition demanding that he be allowed to continue at the Opry. WSM officials relented. Vito stayed with the radio show but retired as music librarian. That November, during the annual disc jockey convention hosted by WSM, Opry performers staged a surprise program in Vito's honor. Roy Acuff made a lengthy, off-the-cuff speech. "He is one of the men who made the Opry what it is today." That was followed by a five minute standing ovation. Vito, with tears in his eyes, said, "This is the most impressive moment in my life."

April 13, 1985: The Grand Ole Opry begins regular television broadcasts on The Nashville Network, (TNN). The original shows were a half-hour and would eventually expand to one hour. In 2001 the broadcast moved to Country Music Television (CMT) and in 2003 moved to Great American Country (GAC). The first televised show featured Roy Acuff as the host, along with Connie Smith, 4 Guys and Dottie West.

April 13, 1981: Guy Willis, of the Willis Brothers, died at the age of 65. The Willis Brothers, which consisted of Guy, Skeeter and Vic, joined the Opry in 1946. The were originally called the Oklahoma Wranglers and back Hank Williams.

April 30, 1991: Emmylou Harris begins a 3 night run at the Ryman Auditorium, where the recording of her, "At The Ryman" album takes place. It marked one of the 1st uses of the Ryman Auditorium for a performance since the Opry moved out in 1974.

April 2, 1994: On TNN's telecast of the Grand Ole Opry that night, an all-star bluegrass jam took place featuring Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Roy Husky, Jr, Marty Stuart, Alison Krauss and the great Earl Scruggs, who passed away last week. Vince said that night, "That's what this place is all about. Nights that are like that."

April 12, 1997: Lewis Crook passed away in Nashville at the age of 87. The Crook Brothers joined the Opry on July 24, 1926, and remained at the Opry until 1988, for a total of 62 years.

April 6, 1998, former Grand Ole Opry member Tammy Wynette passed away in Nashville at the age of 55.

April 18, 1998: Diamond Rio joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be their 14th year as Opry members.

April 12, 1999: Lecil Martin "Boxcar Willie" passed away at the age of 67 in Branson, Missouri. Boxcar joined the Opry in 1981 at the invitation of Roy Acuff.

April 1, 2006: Eric Church made his 1st appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. While never becoming an Opry member, he has appeared at the Opry many times over the course of his career.

There you have it. I hope you enjoy this look back.