Sunday, June 10, 2012

Patty Loveless

It was on June 11, 1988 that Patty Loveless became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be her 24th year as an Opry member. It is just my opinion, but I  believe that Patty has one of the sweetest voices in country/bluegrass music and I just love her singing. Everytime that I have seen her perform on the Opry has been a treat. But like so many others who joined the Opry during that time period, her Opry appearances have been few and far between. Over the course of her Opry career, she has averaged about 5 appearances per year. And actually, that is more than some of the others. But, being a Kentucky girl who grew up in the coal mining area of the state, I really thought we would get more out of her. She was helped along the way by the Wilburn Brothers and Porter Wagoner, both of whom were Opry stars. She is a relative of Loretta Lynn. She played the Opry many times before becoming a member and seems to enjoy the Opry each time she is there. So while it is always a joy each time she is there, I just wished she was there more often.

It is hard to  believe, but Patty is now 55 years old. She has had more than 40 singles on the Billboard country charts, including 5, #1 records. She has recorded 14 albums, of which 4 are platinum and 2 are gold. In 2011 Patty was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and I am sure that at some point she will get serious consideration for the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Patty's personal life and career has had its high and low points. She came to Nashville as a teenager and went back home to get married. She returned to Nashville but just as her career was taking off, she was forced to have throat surgery that put her career on hold and in fact, changed her voice a bit. But the sweetness was always there.

To honor Patty Loveless on her 24 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, here is the line-up and running order of the show from Saturday June 11, 1988, the night she joined the Opry. This show took place during Fan Fair week and the 7:30 segment hosted by Porter Wagoner was televised.

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Grandpa Jones (host): Stop That Ticklin's Me
4 Guys: Some Memories Just Won't Die
Ramona Jones: Hey Boys, Grab Your Partner, Come Out Tonight

6:45: Rudy's
Bill Anderson (host): Son Of The South
Lorrie Morgan: Silver Wings & Golden Rings
Bill Anderson : Still

7:00: Shoney's
Jimmy Dickens (host): Me & My Big Loud Mouth
Skeeter Davis: The End Of The World
Del Reeves: The Only Girl I Can't Forget
Charlie Louvin: I Love You Best Of All
Jan Howard: Take Me As I Am Or Let Me Go
Jimmy Dickens: I Leaned Over Backwards For You

7:30: Standard Candy
Porter Wagoner (host): Dooley
Ray Pillow: Invitation To The Blues
David Houston: Have A Little Faith
Patty Loveless: If My Heart Had Windows/A Little Bit In Love
Porter Wagoner: I've Enjoyed As Much Of This As I Can Stand
Right Combination: Old Joe Clark

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jean Shepard: A Tear Dropped By/Second Fiddle
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything/Statue Of A Fool
Roy Drusky: Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy/One Day At A Time
Larry McNeely: Amazing Grace (In Memory Of Herman Crook was died June 10th)
Roy Acuff: I Saw The Light

8:30: Music Valley Merchants
Hank Snow (host): Send Me The Pillow You Dream On
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Billy Walker: Wild Texas Rose
Holly Dunn: That's What Your Love Does To Me/Daddy's Hands
Hank Snow: Nevertheless

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Bill Anderson (host): Wild Weekend
4 Guys: What'll You Do About Me
Jeannie Seely: The Divorce Song
Wilma Lee Cooper: Loving You
Bill Carlisle: Leave That Liar Alone
Bill Anderson: I Wonder If God Likes Country Music

10:00: Little Debbie
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'All Come
Patty Loveless: A Little Bit In Love/If My Heart Had Windows
Porter Wagoner: I've Enjoyed As Much Of This As I Can Stand

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Just A Friend
Del Reeves: Six Days On The Road/Truck Driving Man
Randy Pollard: Soppin' The Gravy/Brilliancy

10:30: Pet Milk
Grandpa Jones (host): Are You From Dixie
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Hank Locklin: Send Me The Pillow You Dream On
Alisa Jones: Golden Slippers

10:45: B. C. Powder
Jimmy Dickens (host): May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Sugar In The Goard
Charlie Walker: Fraulein
Jimmy Dickens: What Will I Do Then

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Bummin' Around
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong With The Way That We're Doing It Now
Jean Shepard: Many Happy Hangovers To You
Charlie Louvin: Loving Arms
Holly Dunn: That's What Your Love Does To Me/Daddy's Hands
Hank Snow: The Prisoner's Song

11:30: Creamettes
Jack Greene (host): Try A Little Kindness
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Roy Drusky: Always
Johnny Russell: No One Will Ever Know
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything

As mentioned above, there was a tribute to Herman Crook who had died the day before after 62 years at the Opry. The square dancers did not dance during that tribute. On the Friday Night Opry the night before, Ricky Van Shelton became an Opry member. And although Holly Dunn was on both shows, she was not yet an Opry member. She would join the show in October 1989.


  1. I'm with you on Patty--a GREAT singer who should be there more often. I think it's almost a philosophical matter--artists who weren't raised at an Opry that required them to be there a certain number of Saturday nights, so they didn't really get in the habit.

    "Amazing Grace" was Herman Crook's favorite hymn. At the time, Larry McNeely had taken over for Hubert Gregory as the guitarist in the group but he moved over to harmonica when Mr. Crook died and Charlie Collins started playing guitar.

    1. Michael,

      I just listened to my recording of Roy Acuff remembering Herman Crook. He said some nice things and admitted that he joked with Herman about his days twisting tobacco and the fact that Herman lived such a clean life. He then ask Larry to play Amazing Grace on the harmonica and to my surprise even sang a verse at the end. I remembered this taking place but not that Roy sang a little to. Neat memories.


  2. Fred in Bismarck here:

    Wow, what a lineup, both artists and songs -- a reminder of how long this 24 years has been.

    Yes, Patti is one of the treasures, and I don't know how she could be better employed, at this stage of her career, than at the Opry House 20 or 25 Saturday nights out of the year.

    Assuming that Patti and all the other no-shows we miss aren't masochists, deliberately depriving themselves of the pleasure of playing the Opry, I've gotta assume playing the Opry is more pain than pleasure to them and that there will be no improvement until we have new management.

  3. Fred again:

    I pushed the send button too soon. But this just occurred to me as a possible explanation of the no-shows:

    We know what a close-knit fraternity the country-music world used to be (and maybe still is). WHAT IF ... the no-show phenomenon is no more complicated than an expression of resentment (by the Pattis, Tom T's, etc.) over the shabby treatment shown other Opry veterans (the Stonewalls, Charlie Louvins, etc.)?

    It would be fun to see some journalist ... a Peter Cooper, for instance ... ask one of the Opry's few plain talkers, like Jean Shepard, for their opinion. As in, "Hey, Jean, how come the short bills? Where did everybody go, and how come?"

  4. In the one defense I will make for Patty is that she does not tour that much, compared to other artists, and she lives in Georgia, if I am correct, and I know she is not in Nashville that often.

    Fred, I laughed out loud over your Peter Cooper/Jean Shepard reference as Jean keeps talking about her book that she has written and that it will tell everything. But it keeps getting delayed, the latest reason given is because of her recent illness. Let's hope it does come out. Of course if you want to talk about plain talkers, just read Charlie Louvin's book that he wrote right before he died. He didn't hold back on his comments about the present day Opry.

    As far as any Opry member giving an interview to Peter Cooper, even Porter Wagoner, who said a lot off the record and behind the scenes, at the common sense from an Opry appearance standpoint to keep his mouth shut.

  5. Sorry, the last sentence should read, "had the common sense" not "at"

  6. I would add that I have emailed Peter Cooper a few story ideas and suggestions over the years, as well as other Tennessean reporters, and they haven't even responded. I can tell you, as a former newspaper reporter, that's unwise. But they may feel it's more unwise to do real reporting about what goes on at the Opry.

  7. Fred again:

    Interesting on a couple of fronts, Michael. I too am a former newspaper reporter. Re. coverage of the Opry by the local media: Do you suppose there's a policy of see-hear-speak no evil, that the Opry is sacred for one reason or another, perhaps tourism?

    If so, that is indeed poor journalism. The Tennessean's first duty is to the people who plunk down the price of their sheet; and the Opry, including the guzz good and bad, should be a motherlode of news.

  8. Mike and Fred, I am not a former newspaper reporter, so I will offer my comments from a different view, perhaps not the correct one, but still a view.

    With Gaylord being one of the major players in town (still, even with the closings and sales that they have done), is it possible that the Tennessean wants to stay in their good graces and not upset the applecart, so to speak?

    My other view, which does have a factural basis behind it is that Opry members are not willing to speak ill-will on the record regarding the Opry because they know their appearances will be cut. All you have to do is look at what happened in the early part of the 2000's, when Del Reeves, Charlie Louvin and Billy Walker went public with their views on the Opry. The Tennessean reported it and we did not see much of either of those 3 at the Opry after that. We all know what happened with Stonewall after he filed his lawsuit against the Opry. When he settled, he got the appearances he wanted for a couple of years and then he was cut back again. Heck, Charlie Louvin never did shut up and you saw how he was treated by the Opry in his final few years. And he was a Hall of Famer.

    Like a mentioned in a previous comment, Porter Wagoner had a lot of views regarding how the Opry was being managed, but he also stated many times that the Opry was good to him and good for country music and he wasn't going to say anything negative about the show or management (at least on the record). Even those in a position to speak out, such as Vince Gill, Marty Stuart and Ricky Skaggs keep quiet.

    I remember when Jean Shepard was honored for on her 50th year as an Opry member. I don't remember exactly what she said, but when Pete Fisher came out to give her the award, she said something along the lines of, "you're not out here to fire me, are you?" Perhaps someone remembers it better than I do.

  9. Byron, I would not be surprised about not upsetting the applecart. Further, I know that when I was a reporter, I was nicer to my sources than I should have been, and this is common--you might not report something, or might report it in a less nasty way, if it's that negative. And let's face facts about human nature. First, if I'm Pete Fisher, why be nice to the people publicly knocking me? I can imagine him thinking, if Reeves or Louvin or Walker isn't here, attendance won't be affected and neither will I?

    Second, I am now a college professor, and I am familiar with many faculty members at my school and elsewhere who will ignore what seems like obvious wrongdoing because it doesn't affect them personally--as though that's what they're supposed to be teaching their students. So if I'm Vince or Marty or Ricky--or even The Potato or Whispering Bill--and I'm getting what I want ... Let's just say it's a far cry from when Mr. Acuff, Ernest Tubb and Minnie Pearl helped drive out Jim Denny.

  10. Fred again:

    I appreciate the insights of Byron and Michael, both of whom surely know the ins and outs of the Opry better than I do.

    I can understand if some performers might not want to say anything they thought might hurt the Opry. (Everybody, as cited by Byron above, has not been so reticent.)I WOULD be surprised if an old hand were so nervous about his standing that he was afraid to jeopardize it by speaking out.

    After all, who needs whom more? Doesn't the reluctance of so many bigger stars to do the show argue that the Opry needs its members more than they need the Opry?

    Imagine what would happen if the Old Faithfuls we do see week after week -- Jim Ed, Jean Shepard, Bill Anderson, Jimmy Dickens, et al -- got in a snit and pulled the plug all together. That would be the end of the Opry then and there. If that's not clout ... what is?

    I must say if some older stars were silent only out of fear of losing their little sinecure on the Opry, a poorly paid and increasingly "dark" venue (no TV, shrunken radio), I would think that pathetic.

  11. The sad fact is that if the veteran members of the Opry decided to leave, Pete Fisher would probably tell them not to let the door hit them on the way out. This is the same show that fired a dozen acts in the 1960s. The show would continue and instead of Jim Ed, Jean, Bill or Jimmy, we would get Mandy, Rebecca Lynn, Holly Williams and Jim Lauderdale. And, while many of us would be outraged at this, the Opry would probably sell the same amount of tickets that it did before the veterans left.

    I can't answer why some of the veterans, or any of the Opry's members will not speak out against the show unless they are actually ok with how it is. It might be the attitude of "we are getting our appearances so who cares about everyone else", or it might be the fact that they know that their voices will be not heard anyways.

    You are right Mike, it is a different time then when Roy and Minnie spoke up and things did change and get done. It's now corporate management instead of a "mom & pop" operation like it was in the early days.

  12. To finish the thought, it does make me sad that the contributions that these members made to the Opry in their hit making days is apparently not worth anything today. We all know many of them sacrificed a lot of Saturday night money to do the show. And yes, they were rewarded for it by having an avenue at which to be heard back in the days when it was hard to find country music nationally, but it is still sad that they can be kicked to the curb when they are no longer needed. Of course, that happens to a lot of people in everyday life. That still doesn't make it right.

  13. I have wound up in an interesting "discussion" on, under Hazel Smith's weekly column. I have gone on there each week and whenever she mentions a younger Opry member, I ask why that person who is doing such fine work, etc., isn't fulfilling his or her obligations to the Opry. A couple of Blake Shelton fans got upset and I made this point: he accepted the offer to join, claiming it was a great honor that meant so much to him. If he shows it in this way, how do they know they, as his fans, can't expect the same treatment? I think that question is worth asking.

    There's a rumor that Hal Durham planned to unload a bunch of senior members in the mid-1980s. So this debate has gone on a while. It even goes back to when Dee Kilpatrick merged the Gully Jumpers and the Possum Hunters into the Crook Brothers and Fruit Jar Drinkers, and Herman Crook later had to fight--if I have my facts straight--to get Earl White into the group when Ed Hyde died because management just wanted him to use members of the staff band. The problem that I don't think even the money-minded folks like Buchanan and Fisher see is brand loyalty--if the Opry looks nothing like the Opry, why be loyal to it if you're a consumer? I think we're seeing that right now with an attendance decline that, in my opinion, is due not just to the economy, but to what they have done to the Opry.

  14. Fred here:

    Wonderful, insightful posts, Byron and Michael.

    Re. Michael immediately above: A big difference, I think, between now and 25 years ago, when Durham may have thought he had the luxury -- unindulged -- to tie the can to some veterans, can be seen in Byron's Opry lineups out of the past.

    The depth of talent of the mid-80s just isn't there any longer. It could be, if all 65 (or however many) nominal members showed up more regularly (and if they had half the stuff of our older stars.) But they don't, and it isn't.

    I won't argue with Byron that a wrongheaded Pete Fisher would say goodbye to the veterans without a qualm. However, I think it would cost him severely. I don't see these lame fill-ins he offers us week after week as anything to build on.

  15. We shouldn't kid ourselves. The young acts are what bring crowds and make money for the 'Opry.

    This last Tuesday, I saw the 'Opry house packed to the rafters to see Luke Bryan. The young girls went absolutely nuts when he performed. It wasn't country music to me, but whatever it was, it sold tickets.

    When Charlie Daniels cancelled out, Dirks Bentley was his replacement. The young crowd was elated when he appeared instead of Charlie.

    If I ran the 'Opry, I would see no choice but to "go young" whenever I had the chance.
    While all of us old folks would love to see Jimmie Dickens, Bill Anderson, Charlie Daniels, Jimmie C. Neuman, etc. every week, the fact is they no longer draw crowds the way they used to.

    Make no mistake. I'm 64 years old and grew listening to today's classic 'Opry performers. But the world (and country music) is changing, whether we like it or not.

  16. I wish the Opry would let Ramona Jones still perform now and then (if she wanted to) .. also, Grandpa's daughter Alisa.

  17. Nat, I don't disagree. They need the younger and more popular artists at the Opry. What made the Opry successful in the 1980s and 1990s when the big young names weren't regularly there was the presence of true legends and that the show MOVED--acts got on and off of there. Now, with two hours, there are so few performers, and too often there's no consistency, because each week the emphasis is on the guests. I think it was Brad Paisley who said that if his crowd shows up, they should walk away saying, yes, we got to see him, but how about that Jimmy Dickens? And in turn, he said, the people who are looking to see the legends should walk out saying, those kids aren't so bad either.

  18. Michael;
    I just felt old and out of place when Luke Bryan hit the stage, kept makin' all the studly moves young men make today, and drove the young girls nuts by turning his hat around backwards. (I'm not smart enough to make that up).

    You're on to something with the need for the 'Opry show to MOVE. It really dragged a week ago Tuesday night. They had a former chief of staff soliciting funds for the proposed Army Museum. That took a lot of time out of the show, even though I certainly agreed with the cause.

    It seems every week the 'Opry finds a new reason (or cause) to slow the show down.

    The kids will like the older acts more if they "hit and run." This guy will certainly enjoy the young acts a lot more if they aren't on stage for twenty minutes.

    1. I agree that there is room for everyone on the Opry. I have listened to many older shows as far back as the 40's and it seems the Opry always had popular artists of the day as guest, even opra singers. And there has always been the very young and the very old. I'm not sure I'm about to say this but, I don't know that age or genre of music makes that big of difference or even star power. To me it is good music that counts. So much of what is now being presented on the Opry is just noise to my ears and much to do with sex appeal and being cool. I know that the Opry has always had stars like Marty Robbins, Ray Price, Carl Smith and others who had sex appeal to the fans in a more conservative era but their music stood by itself and it just happened that the ladies liked to swoon over them too. Today, it seems you have to be sexy to get attention and your music comes second which tells me your music isn't that good. I know that is not everyone but too many I think!

      Stars have always been given more time to perform and the older or lesser knowns may only get one shot. However, today, known or not, if you are young and new you get the most time on the Opry. Too many times the host gives up the second song because the newby got three or four or more. Yes, I remember Roy Acuff and others giving up the last song when Loretta Lynn, Charley Pride or others appeared. But I never felt they were pressured because someone had a stop watch at the side of the stage. Until recently the Opry was the place to go to see all facets of country music and maybe you would find someone you enjoyed that you had never been exposed to before old or new. Little chance of that now with less than a dozen acts on a show. Unless they are a veteran, you are stuck with listening to some of them for fifteen minutes straight like it or not just as Nat points out. If they go over big and get encores and standing ovations that's different.

      This isn't an age thing with me. Ever since I was a young kid old enough to listen to the radio I liked Roy Acuff and Kitty Wells. I am now 46, like the same people and young artist like Amber Digby who must be in her 20's or Justin Trevino who is in his late 30's and others. Good music has nothing to do with the age of the artist! That being said, why do all the young people performing on the Opry have to be of the modern genre. Are there not young pretty people playing bluegrass or honky-tonk music. To me, money is money whether a young or old person pays for the ticket so why not appeal to everyone just a little? Instead, the show seems to be geared to a younger and younger age groups as time passes and we can get rid (of the old farts) as Marty Stuart said the Saturday after Mr. Acuff passed and he joined. (I think I have forgiven him for that but at the time it didn't set well-he was referring to the audience-I was there!)

      As I think I have said before, I love the Opry and it is a big part of my life so when I comment here I am not putting the show down just concerned about where it is going and how long it will last as we know it. And I am thankful each time we dodge a bullet and it keeps on going. I just bought an add where Roy Acuff approved and signed a note to everyone about the FCC doing away with clear channels, in the late 80's I think, which would have been the end of the radio show beyond a couple hundred miles until new technology came along. The Opry is a survivor!

      Hope I didn't bore everyone!

      Knightsville, IN

  19. Jim, that's a great post, and I agree: there's room for everybody! But I have to add, we were watching at home when Marty made that immortal comment. About three weeks later, when he was next at the Opry, he came on the TNN warmup show looking a bit sheepish and apologized, saying he meant well but occasionally he spoke before thinking. I admit, I thought it was kind of cute, but now that I'm one of them ... well, I still do.