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.