Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lorrie Morgan- 28 Year Opry Member

This Saturday night, June 9, Lorrie Morgan will be celebrating her 28th year as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Sorry to say, she will not be at the Opry this weekend to celebrate the moment. And it is also sad because the Opry could use her right now. When Lorrie first joined the Opry in 1984, she appeared regularly on the show. But that was before she had her big hits and like so many of the other Opry members who joined in the 1980s and 1990s, once Lorrie hit it big, her regular Opry appearances ended. And in the last several years it has been even more so. So far in 2012, she has made just 1 Opry appearance, and that come after making just 4 appearances in 2011. In 2010, he appeared 7 times after having 16 appearances in 2009. From 2001 up to 2009, she averaged about 15 shows per year, so something has happened to cause Lorrie to really drop off the Opry. And that is too bad because she seems to enjoy performing on the Opry and the crowd appreciates her performances. I know she has been touring with Pam Tillis this past year, but her concert appearances have not been that high, and she lives right in the Nashville area.

I can remember about 10 or 15 years ago when Vince Gill and Lorrie Morgan were appearing on the pre-Opry show on either TNN or CMT, as I forget which one. Vince was talking about his Opry appearances and how much he enjoyed the show and the subject got around to why some of the other younger Opry members did not make more Opry appearances. Right there on camera, Vince challenged Lorrie about her committment to the show and she got very uncomfortable. She started to say how much she loved the Opry and would appear more if she could, but you could tell that Vince put her on the spot. Personally, I really like Lorrie and I do wish she would do the Opry more. Like I said, the Opry could use her.

Let's look back in time to Saturday June 9, 1984, the night Lorrie Morgan joined the Grand Ole Opry and here is the line-up and running order of the show from that night:

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Stonewall Jackson (host): Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
Connie Smith: Had A Dream (For The Heart)
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 Checks Again
Del Reeves: Don't You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me

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

7:30: Standard Candy
Bill Anderson (host): Po Folks
LORRIE MORGAN: CANDY KISSES/STAND BY YOUR MAN
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
Jeanne 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: Its High Time/Crazy/I Fall To Pieces/Sweet Dreams
4 Guys: Cottonfields/Mariah
Roy Drusky: The Last Farewell
Bill Carlisle: I'm Moving
Hank Snow: I Don't Hurt Anymore

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Jim Ed Brown (host): Southern Loving
4 Guys: How Married Are You Marry 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 Locklin: 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: Grey 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: Hanging 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
LORRIE MORGAN: WHAT'S I'VE GOT IN MIND/CRAZY
Stonewall Jackson: Old Chunk Of Coal

Also during this show, Bud Wendell came out on stage and gave an award to Opry announcer and Country Music Hall of Fame member Grant Turner, who was celebrating 40 years as an Opry announcer. Grant started at WSM radio as a staff announcer on June 6, 1944, which happened to be D-Day. Grant spent many years announcing the Friday and Saturday night Grand Ole Opry shows, the Opry warm-up show and as the announcer at the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree. He was also one of the original inductees into the Country Disc Jockey Hall of Fame. Grant passed away on October 19, 1991, shortly after announcing the Friday Night Opry. He was 79 years old.



12 comments:

  1. I complained on Lorrie's Facebook page about her lack of Opry appearances and she responded personally or her representative did to say the Opry is important to her. Well, show it! I looked at her touring schedule. She has plenty of time back in Nashville.

    Interesting, I remember that when she joined, she came out holding a bouquet, and Ralph Emery asked if Bill Anderson had given them to her. She said, "No, Uncle Jimmy," meaning Newman, who was very close to her father. But he wasn't on the lineup that night, so I wonder if he wasn't performing or perhaps just sent them.

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  2. I'm guessing this was the week of the Grand Masters Fiddling Championship at Opryland given the amount of fiddle players featured on the show that night. Dan Kelly won that contest at least once but I didn't think it was in 1984 (which was why I first thought he was on the show...he wouldn't play as a member of Acuff's band for several more years). Also, Roy Thackerson was on the second show that night and he seemed to be one of Roy Acuff's favorite guests and made an annual appearance on the show for several years. He's still around and quite and interesting man. Check out his web site (fingerlessfiddler.com) to learn more.

    Regarding Grant Turner: It's a shame that the Opry no longer has a real "personality" on its announcing staff. Eddie Stubbs is a brilliant guy and a capable on-air host but, frankly, he's about as exciting as watching paint dry. :) Grant was a wonderful man. The first time I got to meet him I was in Nashville on a break from school in Abilene, Texas, which was his hometown. When he found out I was in school there he invited me to sit down and he talked like he had known me forever until it was time for him to got back to the stage, , even though he didn't know me from Adam and I'm reasonably sure there were dozens of more important people there he could have spent time with. That's an experience that I will always treasure. If I remember correctly, WSM or National Life waived it's rule on mandatory retirement at 65 to allow him to continue on the Opry and I'm sure it extended his life by many years. I can think of only a handful of people in country music who were as genuinely admired, respected and loved as Grant Turner. Even so, it seems he's largely forgotten by today's audience and I think that's a shame!

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  3. Barry, as I recall, WSM had the 65 rule and the Opry membership, led by Mr. Acuff, spoke up for Grant Turner, so he was allowed to continue on the Opry.

    I respectfully disagree about Eddie Stubbs, to this extent: Opry announcers used to be more involved in the show but really haven't been for a long time, though there's still a little byplay. Last night, Larry Gatlin announced he wanted to read an ad, so he did, and pronounced debut as dee-butt. Eddie came back on and said, "I just learned a new word." There just isn't the back-and-forth that there used to be, it seems to me--and that's too bad.

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  4. Fred in Bismarck here:

    Interesting that nobody has much to say about Lorrie Morgan herself. I wonder if more Opry fans than I regard her as yet another in a long line of interchangeable, modern artists who have given us little in the way of indelible musical memories, 28 years on the Opry (ostensibly) notwithstanding.

    Pop quiz: Name an unforgetable Lorrie Morgan song.

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  5. Barry is right that Roy Thackerson was a favorite of Roy Acuff's and make quite a few Opry appearances over the years.

    I will ask this question. Is it Eddie Stubbs and Mike Terry that have no personality and sound boring, or is it the commericals that they read? Same wording every week. Same information every week. With only 4 segments, they really don't get a chance to show much.

    I fun guy to me to listen to when he gets a chance to announce is Bill Cody. He subsitutes at times and seems to have a lot of fun doing it.

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    1. Byron,

      I think it is all of the above. Opps, sound like the president on energy!

      Eddie is a very serious person to start with, laughs very little. The commercials are the same old boring stuff each week from the same four sponsors. The interaction with the audience and the performers is gone, probably by management choice. And, time is so important. Heaven forbid we run over unless a big new name is performing then time stands still.

      As you know, I have been listening to and reviewing some old shows from the 80’s and 90’s. I am amazed at all the sponsors in the 80’s and before. Kroger, Beechnut, Acme Boots, Lorado Boots, Bama Jams, Tennessee Pride, Rudy’s, Shoneys, Cracker Barrel, Coke, Quincy’s Family Steak House, Sunbeam Bread, Standard Candy, Music Valley Drive, Goody’s Headache Powders, BC Powders, Pet Milk, Hillshire Farms, Mrs. Grissoms and so many more. I have lost track of what role Martha White now plays! All those great sponsors are gone such as Goo Goo’s on which they used to interact with the audience while advertising, or those that the artist would participate with like Johnny Russell and Charlie Douglas used to do with Creamettes late on Saturday night. And, although the commercials were needed to pay the bills they were often funny or pleasing to listen to and I for one enjoyed many of them because of who was talking, the music behind them or the funny business that went along with them. Remember the Willis Brothers doing Acme Boots or Faron Young for Goody’s. Didn’t George IV do BC Powders? Pa did Trailblazer and why oh why did we loose Ira Louvin doing the Tennessee Pride tag. And I’m just talking about the 80’s! Bottom line, I think the commercials are consistent with the rest of the show!

      I will add that if Eddie was not an announcer I don’t think we would hear some of the songs we hear from the older artist nor would the audience ever get any history about the older artist. And anniversaries and special notes about the artist and their music would go unmentioned.

      I might also add that along with Grant Turner, I miss Hearil Hensley, Harold Weekly, Kyle Cantrell, Charlie Douglas and even Keith Bilbry who in his day was my least favorite announcer but I sure miss him now. Remember the Goo Goo commercials Hearil and Harold used to do? Does anyone remember Chuck Morgan?

      To sum up my thoughts, I think a lot of folks have forgotten or just don’t know that the Opry is a live radio show, not a concert in a ten thousand seat auditorium with an opening and main act. It used to be an unrehearsed radio show with a rough program (yes I know about Vito Pellettieri) where the audience, performers, announcers and side men improvised as they went and set the tone of each show. Somewhere in the push to make the dollar that seems to have been forgotten. And, society has changed and I’m not sure everyone appreciates the same things we do anymore!

      Jim
      Knightsville, IN

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    2. Speaking of Chuck Morgan....he's been the PA announcer for the Texas Rangers for 30 years now! Found an interview from the Dallas newspaper where he talks a (very) little about his days at the Opry. Here's the link: http:rangersblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2012/01/rangers-pa-announcer-on-grand.html.

      I think part of the problem is that the Opry announcers are today are just that....announcers....where people like Grant Turner and Louie Buck were personalities. Everybody used to have a lot more fun during the show as well and some of the commercials (Hairl and Harold: the Goo Goo Twins and the Willis Brothers' live Kellogg's jingles come to mind) were as much a part of the show as anything else. Even the backdrops helped give the stage some character although they stopped using the full stage backdrops years ago (I'm sure for insurance reasons more than anything). I vividly recall a night when Tennessee Ernie Ford was guesting on the show and Grant Turner was reading a Martha White ad after his performance. You could here him chatting just behind Grant and the commercial went something like this: Grant: You'll bake right with Martha....don't go away I want you to do the last line! (at this point the audience HOWLS with laughter). Ernie: Gee, you're all heart, Grant! After that it wasn't much of a commercial but I bet I'm not the only one who remembers that commercial 30 years after the fact. I can't see that happening today.

      I also find it interesting to go back and look at the companies that advertised on the Opry over the years....you could tell exactly who the show was aimed at. If you look at the listing of sponsors, especially from the 60s thru the 80s, you notice that the early show was sponsored by more local advertisers (Mrs. Grissom's, Rudy Farms, W.E. Stephens) while advertisers with more national reach tended to buy time later in the night when the radio signal carried farther (Kellogg's, Union 76, Coca Cola).

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  6. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

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  7. This is probably an uninformed opinion but it nevertheless is one that I think might prove on target if one thinks about it long enough. The reason anything meant to have some kind of commercial or social impact either ceases to be fun or entertaining or whatever can be traced to management. I don't necessarily feel it has anything to do with the performers or the guests or anything. Mike Snider is still funny and Bill Anderson, John Conlee, Jeannie Seely, and Jim Ed Brown remain as good as ever.

    I, too, recall the long list of sponsors that filled the program and the varied group of announcers. The radio's signal could be heard loud and clear here starting around 8pm Eastern time but it would fade out around 7am. When I first heard an Opry radio program the announcers happened to be Hairl Hensley, Keith Bilbrey, and newcomer Eddie Stubbs. I remember Hairl's 'Orange Possum Special' radio program and 'Early Bird Gets the Bluegrass'. Hairl and a guitar player named Ralph Davis did the Goo-Goo commercials. It was often ironic to me because to my ears Hairl has a voice similar to Ralph Emery and so it come across ironic that Hairl's co-hort in those commercials was named Ralph. In the years before WSM became more stronger on my radio I'd obviously catch the TNN segment. Sometimes the camera came on a few seconds early and I'd hear the audience shouting something I couldn't understand entirely but eventually I discovered they were saying "Gotta get a Goo-Goo!".

    I've read the comments and I, too, miss the way in which the Opry shows once were broadcast. Although I don't consider myself a long time listener, what with being 36, I definitely remember listening to the Opry throughout the '90s and catching the TNN broadcast each Saturday. Sure, by that time, a lot of the listeners/fans perhaps complained how much the program had changed by that time from the '80s or '70s; the fans that date back to the '60s probably had little regard for the overall presentation of the program in the '70s onwards. I simply miss the presentation and the give-and-take that used to go on. As mentioned in a previous comment, there are very few sponsors, too. The Opry doesn't even go to midnight anymore. That in itself is sacrilegious.

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  8. I appreciate Byron up there asking if anyone remembers me. My time at WSM and The Grand Ole Opry was short, but gave me a lifetime of memories. Leaving WSM, the Music Country Network, Nashville and especially The Grand Ole Opry was one of the tougest decisions of my life. Not a day goes by that someone doesn't ask me about my time there and its been 31 years since I left. I have seen a lot of great moments in baseball and if got to announce some World Series games, but those Friday and Saturday nights at The Grand Ole Opry will always hold a special place in my heart. Some of my best times were just floating from dressing room to dressing room and listening to stories or just talking about the events of the day.
    Speaking of having some fun, does anybody remember the dog food commercial that I used to have to read live and there was probably, towards my last days there, 8 to 10 people barking like dogs, grabbing my legs, putting fingers in my ear, and they always, always got me tickled........we had a lot of fun. After about a month of that, Hal Durham called me into his office and asked me if that was any trouble for me and I said no, he said if it bothers you, I will put a stop to it....it kept going til I left.
    Thanks to the folks that might remember ole Chuck Morgan.
    Feel free to email me anytime at cmorgan@texasrangers.com
    Thanks
    Chuck Morgan

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  9. Mr. Morgan, I had the pleasure of hearing your voice in the background when I have watched Rangers games on TV, and we also remember you hosting Stars of the Grand Ole Opry on TNN. It's great to see you here!

    And didn't Hal Durham supposedly like to tickle people? He probably would have been out there with them!

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  10. In life and in art, Lorrie Morgan is enjoying a renewed resurgence of popularity. Morgan continues to make new music, tour North America, and this weekend will celebrate her 30th Anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry!!! On June 9, 1984, Morgan was inducted as a member into the invitation only institution.

    http://www.nashville.com/music/2014/06/lorrie-morgan-celebrates-30-years-as-an-opry-member/

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