Saturday, September 29, 2012

October Opry Highlights

October has traditionally been one of the busiest months in the history of the Grand Ole Opry. Lots of important and historical events have taken place during this month. As I do each month, here are those events that took place in Grand Ole Opry history during October.

October 25, 1912: Sarah Ophelia Colley, known the world over as Minnie Pearl, was born. Minnie first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry on November 30, 1940 and would remain an Opry member for over 50 years. In June 1991 she suffered a serious stroke that ended her career and she would pass away on March 4, 1996. Later this month, the Opry will have a special show honoring her on what would have been her 100th birthday.

October 5, 1925: WSM radio went on the air. Edwin Craig was given the honor of starting off the broadcast, and he simply said, "This is WSM. We Shield Millions. The National Life and Accident Insurance Company." National Life president C.A. Craig dedicated the station to public service. Shortly afterward, George D. Hay, who was present that night, would be offered the job of program director at WSM.

October 27, 1934: The Grand Ole Opry moved from Studio C at WSM to the Hillsboro Theater. The theater sat 2,400 people. For the first time, the performers had dressing rooms and since there was now a sizeable audience, they were told to "dress" for their performances. Mostly that meant to wear rural clothes that reflected the image of a country show. This also marked the beginning of Vito Pellettiere as the Opry's stage manager. Many felt that Vito was the most important person at the Opry and for the first time, he put the Opry on a schedule, and a schedule that was meant to be kept. Many of the Opry's veteran members have often said that the Opry has not been the same since he passed away, which was back in the late 1970s. In fact, the last Opry show he worked was on April 2, 1977. He suffered a stroke a few days after that show and passed away on April 14.

October 14, 1939: The NBC radio network begins carrying a half-hour Opry segment hosted by Roy Acuff. The show was sponsored by Prince Albert Tabacco. The show began on a number of regional affiliates but would over time, expand to the entire NBC national network. The show came to pass as a result of work by Dick Marvin, the account executive for the William Esty Agency of New York, who was employed by WSM to sell time on the Opry. On that first show, David Stone announced the opening of the show. Roy Acuff and his group played the theme song, "Have a Big Time Tonight" and the Judge George D. Hay was introduced. Also performing that night were Uncle Dave Macon, George Wilkerson and his Fruit Jar Drinkers, DeFord Bailey, along with Brother Oswald and other members of Roy's road show.

October 28, 1939: Bill Monroe becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. On his first night at the Opry, he performed "Muleskinner Blues." Opry founder George D. Hay is so impressed with the performance that he would tell Bill that if he ever wanted to leave the Opry, he would have to fire himself. Bill would never do that and would remain an Opry member until his death on September 9, 1996.

October 2, 1954: Elvis Presley makes his first and only appearance on the Opry. He sang the great Bill Monroe hit, "Blue Moon of Kentucky." Elvis received only modest applause and after his performance, legend has it that Jim Denny, the Opry's manager, told Elvis that he should go back to driving a truck. However, much like many other stories in the Opry's history, there is serious doubt that this incident ever happened. What did not happen was Elvis ever being invited back to the Opry and while Jim Denny might not have been impressed with Elvis, Bill Monroe was, especially when the sizeable royalty checks started coming in.

October 30, 1955: Jim Reeves joins the Grand Ole Opry. Over time, he would become the biggest star on the Opry, but like many others, he realized the limitations of Opry membership and he would move on. His last Opry performance was on June 29, 1963.

October 15, 1960: Loretta Lynn made her first appearance on the Opry. The Wilburn Brothers were instrumental in getting her a guest slot on the show. She was on the Ernest Tubb segment and Ernest introduced her. Since she did not have a band, Leslie Wilburn played bass and Lester Wilburn played rhythm guitar for her. She sang "I'm A Honky Tonky Girl." She would join the Opry in September 1962 and just celebrated her 50th anniversary as an Opry member.

October 27, 1962: Sonny James becomes a Grand Ole Opry member. As with many others, Sonny would leave the show after a period of time.

October 23, 1965: Roy Acuff, Jr. made his first appearance on the Opry. He sang "Baby Just Said Goodbye," while his father stood behind him, proudly watching. His recording and performing career were short as he preferred to work behind the scenes instead of being in the public eye.

October 10, 1966: The Browns gave their final appearance as Opry members. Jim Ed Brown would continue as an Opry member and next year he will be celebrating his 50th year of Opry membership. Maxine and Bonnie would continue to perform with Jim Ed on occasion, including many times at the Opry. Many feel, and I am included in that group, that the Browns should have been long ago elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. They made a huge impact on country music and sang some of the finest harmonies ever heard on the Opry stage.

October 14, 1966: Del Reeves joins the Grand Ole Opry. He was introduced that night by Porter Wagoner and in a story that has been told many times, it was a very emotional night for Del with his parents in the audience that night. Del broke down and couldn't make it through his song. Del would remain an Opry member until his death on January 1, 2007 at the age of 75.

October 8, 1968: Harry Stone, former WSM executive, passed away at the age of 70. The influence that Harry Stone had on the Opry was great. While George D. Hay wanted to keep the show simple and down to earth with local and regional musicians, Harry moved the show forward by hiring established and professional entertainers. As a result, there was much conflict between George and Harry. Harry Stone was the general manager of WSM starting in 1932 and among the first artists that he signed to the Opry were Roy Acuff and Pee Wee King. He saw what the show could do for WSM and National Life on a national level and by the Opry becoming a national show versus a regional one, it saved the show from the fate of the other regional barn dance shows.

October 19, 1968: In an interview with the Nashville Tennessean, Irving Waugh, WSM president said that the Opry's days at the Ryman Auditorium were numbered. The article stated, "The initiation of plans for the relocation of the Opry, possibly as the center of a multi-million dollar hotel and amusement complex, was announced at a breakfast at Municipal Auditorium sponsored by WSM." Irving Waugh said, "Our feeling is that the Grand Ole Opry needs a new, modern facility. And we would like a facility that would be very active. It is estimated the center, which would be called Opryland USA, would require between one hundred fifty and two hundred acres of land. The location would not be in the Music Row are." Over time, detailed plans would be announced, including the location out of the center of town.

October 27, 1973: Comedian Jerry Clower becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. He was the last member to join the Opry's cast before it moved from the Ryman Auditorium to the new Grand Ole Opry House. When he joined the Opry, Jerry followed in the tradition of a long line of Opry comedians that included Minnie Pearl, Archie Campbell, Stringbean, Lew Childre, Duke of Paducah and Rod Brasfield.Sorry to say but comedy seems to have become a lost art at the Opry. Jerry remained a popular Opry member until he passed away on August 24, 1998.

October 18, 1975: The Grand Ole Opry celebrated its 50th anniversary. The 50th anniversary show is considered on of the greatest in the Opry's history and the vast majority of Opry members were present that night.

October 16, 1982: Opry member Doyle Wilburn passed away in Nashville at the age of 52. The Wilburn Brothers first came to the Opry as children but were forced to leave because of the child labor laws that were in effect at the time. The later came back, becoming members in 1953. They were considered one of the great duets in the history of country music and they also owned a publishing company that held the publishing rights to most of Loretta Lynn's music. After Doyle passed away, Teddy continued as a solo artist and Opry member until his death in 2003. Much like several others, a solid case can be made that the Wilburn's deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

October 29, 1982: Alabama made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.

October 24, 1983: Opry member Kirk McGee passed away. Along with his brother Sam, Kirk made his first Grand Ole Opry appearance in 1926. Over the years, he would be part of the Fruit Jar Drinkers and the Dixieliners. When he passed away, he was one of the last links back to the start of the Opry.

October 3, 1989: Grand Ole Opry member Del Wood passed away in Nashville. Del, whose real name was Adelaide Hazelwood, had joined the Opry in 1953. She was famous for her ragtime piano, and her great record "Down Yonder." In looking at my past Opry line-ups, I find it hard to find many shows that she did not perform that number at. And, as the Opry Picture History Book said, "She was famous for her canning and jams."

October 4, 1989: Holly Dunn becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. She would remain an Opry member until retiring from the music business and leaving Nashville. If it was up to Holly, she would still be an Opry member today.

October 6, 1990: Garth Brooks becomes a member of the Opry. Garth remembered that Johnny Russell was the one who introduced him the first time he played the Opry and he would always insist on being on Johnny's segment whenever he did the Opry. On the night he was inducted, he sang "Friends in Low Places", "If Tomorrow Never Comes" and "The Dance." Sorry to say, but Garth would make rather infrequent Opry appearances and his last appearance was at the Opry's 80th birthday celebration. This will be his 22nd year as an Opry member. On another note, this was the same night that Alan Jackson made his first Opry appearance.

October 4, 1991: Diamond Rio made their first Opry appearance. They would later join the Opry on April 18, 1998. Not only have they been good Opry members, but they have been very involved in the Nashville community.

October 19, 1991: Grand Ole Opry announcer and Country Music Hall of Fame member Grant Turner passed away hours after announcing the Friday Night Opry. He was the "dean" of the Opry's announcers and was at the Opry since 1944. He also hosted the Opry Warm-Up show on WSM and was an announcer for the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree.

October 24, 1991: Gaylord Entertainment Company, owners of the Grand Ole Opry and WSM, listed its stock on the New York Stock Exchange for the first time and offered shares of stock to the general public. Many say this is the event that stared the downfall of Gaylord and the Opry.

October 23, 1992: Roy Acuff makes his final Opry appearance. It was a Friday night show and Roy did his segments sitting in a directors chair. Exactly one month later, he would pass away at the age of 89.

October 15, 2000: The Grand Ole Opry celebrated its 75th anniversary. There were 4 shows that weekend and just about every active Opry member was present.

October 25, 2003: Del McCoury becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 9th year as an Opry member. Del has always fulfilled his Opry commitments since joining the show. Many times, if he is on the same show as Vince Gill, he and his sons will back up Vince.

October 1, 2005: Dierks Bentley joins the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 7th year as an Opry member. He had spent several years working for the Nashville Network and hanging around the Opry. He made his Opry debut in April 2003.

October 15, 2005: The Grand Ole Opry celebrated its 80th annversary. Garth Brooks marked the occasion by coming out of retirement and performing on the Opry for the first time in 5 years. He was joined on the Opry stage by Porter Wagoner, Bill Anderson and Jimmy Dickens.

October 27, 2007: Josh Turner joined the cast of the Opry. Josh had been a very frequent guest of the Opry and he had been asked previously by Roy Clark to join the cast. This will be his 5th year as an Opry member.

October 25, 2008: Craig Morgan joined the Grand Ole Opry. John Conlee handled the induction and since joining the show, Craig has fulfilled his membership requirements. This will be his 4th year as a member.

October 22, 2010: Blake Shelton joined the Grand Ole Opry. He had been invited to join the previous month at the re-opening of the Opry House after the Nashville flood. Sorry to say, but since joining, Blake has not made many Opry appearances. It would appear that Pete Fisher missed on this one.

October 8, 2011: Rascal Flatts joins the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. This took place during the Opry's 86th birthday celebration.

As we go through the month of October, I will be posting many line-ups from past Grand Ole Opry birthday shows.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Grand Ole Opry 9/28 & 9/29--Updated

The Grand Ole Opry has filled out the line-up for this weekend. The updated line-up is below. Also, the Opry has posted the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, October 2nd:

7:00: Dustin Lynch; The Whites
7:30: Terri Clark; Jimmy Dickens
8:15: Jim Ed Brown; Sam Bush
8:45: Darius Rucker

Before getting to this week's Grand Ole Opry line-up, I did want to report that yesterday Gaylord Entertainment stockholders approved the deal that was previously announced with Marriott. Colin Reed, Gaylord's president and CEO, again stated that the new company would continue to own and operate WSM radio, the Ryman Auditorium, and the Grand Ole Opry. But, it will not be Gaylord Entertainment operating those 3 historical icons, as Gaylord has changed their corporate name to "Ryman Hospitality Properties." Colin Reed will continue to lead the newly named company, and Steve Buchanan will continue in the position of senior vice president of media and entertainment, which means that he will continue to oversee the Opry. I would also assume, as nothing has been announced, that Pete Fisher will continue as the vice president and general manager of the Grand Ole Opry. I do find it interesting that of all the business properties owned by Gaylord, that they have elected to retain not only ownership, but management of the Ryman, WSM and the Opry. I do hope that with the other business entities going under new management and the stockholder issues settled, that the new Ryman Hospitality Properties will give more attention to the Opry.

Now for this week's shows, there will be 2 shows this weekend.  The Friday Night Opry will feature frequent Opry guests Craig Campbell, Mark Wills and Restless Heart, along with Opry member Larry Gatlin. The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night will feature guest artist Rhonda Vincent, along with The Black Lillies, and our old friend Jimmy Wayne. The line-ups for both nights are "ok", as in nothing really special.

Friday September 28
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Sarah Darling; Connie Smith
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds; Mark Wills
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); The Whites; Craig Campbell
8:45: Larry Gatlin (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Restless Heart

Saturday September 29
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Craig Campbell; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Ray Pillow (host); Jim Lauderdale; The Black Lillies
8:15: George Hamilton IV (host); Grandmaster Fiddle Champion; Rhonda Vincent; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jimmy Wayne; Connie Smith

With a couple of slots to fill, that comes out to 11 acts each night, with 8 Opry members on Friday night and just 6 Opry members on Saturday night.

For this week's look in the past at Grand Ole Opry history, I have the line-up from Saturday night, September 29, 1951, 62 years ago this Saturday night. There were some great names at the Opry on this particular night and I thought it would be great to look back and remember some of these great artists.

Saturday September 29, 1951

7:30: Warren Paint
Roy Acuff (host): Little Pal
Lew Childre: Hog Calling Blues
The LeCroix Sisters: If We Never Meet Again
Oswald: Columbus Stockade Blues
Joe Zinkas: Tiger Rag

7:45: American Ace Coffee
Roy Acuff (host): Write me Sweetheart
Uncle Dave Macon: Kissing on the Sly
Roy Acuff: This World is not my Home
The Jug Band: Shot Gun Boogie
Jimmy Riddle: Alabama Jublilee

8:00: Martha White Flour
Ernest Tubb (host): Mississippi Gal
Bill Monroe: Highway of Sorrow
The Crook Brothers: Trouble Among The Yearling
Lefty Frizzell: I Love You a Thousand Ways
Mama Maybelle: Crying Heart Blues
Ernest Tubb: Any Old Time
Carl Smith: Let's Live a Little
June Carter: Keep those Cold Icy Fingers Off Me
Bill Monroe: Truck Drivers Blues
Chet Atkins: Carry me Back to Virginny
Ernest Tubb: Daisy May

8:30: Prince Albert (NBC)
Red Foley (host): Freight Train Boogie
Pee Wee King: Slow Poke
The Square Dancers: Sugar Foot Rag
Red Foley: The Weapon of Prayer
The Old Hickory Singers: Meet me in St. Louis, Louis
Pee Wee King: Two Roads
Stringbean: Call Ole Rattler
Red Foley: Foggy River
The Square Dancers: Skip to my Lou

9:00: Royal Crown Cola
Roy Acuff (host): Your Address Unknown
The Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cotton Eyed Joe
George Morgan: My Heart Keeps Telling Me
The Le Croix Sisters: Pins and Needles
Hank Snow: Your Locket is my Broken Heart
Lonzo and Oscar: Extravaganza Baby
Moon Mulligan: Cherokee Boogie
Roy Acuff: Shake my Mother's Hand
The Jug Band: Conchita Banana
Owald: Little Darling

9:30: Fortune Feed
Cowboy Copas (host): Tragic Romance
Little Jimmy Dickens: Cold Feet
The Possum Hunters: Black Berry Blossom
Anita Carter: Why Should I Cry Over You
The Duke Of Paducah: Comedy
Hank Williams: I Heard a Lonesome Whistle Blow
The Jordanaires: Gonna Walk them Golden Stairs
Little Jimmy Dickens: Sleepin' at the Foot of the Bed
Cowboy Copas: You'll Never ever See me Cry
Big Howdy: Turkey in the Straw
Cowboy Copas: Waltzing with Tears in my Eyes

10:00: Wallrite
Bill Monroe (host): I'm on my Way to the Old Home
The Old Hickory Singers: Waiting for the Robert E. Lee
George Morgan: I Know You'll never Change
Old Joe Clark: Old Age Won't Kill You
Bill Monroe: Raw Hide

10:15: Dr. Le Gear
Roy Acuff (host): Living on the Mountain
Uncle Dave Macon: Old Ties
Roy Acuff: It's All Right Now
Robert Lunn: Frog Hair
Benny Martin: Bill Cheatham

10:30: Jefferson Island Salt
Ernest Tubb (host): I'm in a Crowd but so Alone
Little Jimmy Dickens: Galvanized Wash Tub
Chet Atkins: Canned Heat
Carl Smith: Mr. Moon
The Jordanaires: Pray
Ernest Tubb: Seaman's Blues
June Carter: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
The Gully Jumpers: Old Joe
Little Jimmy Dickens: What About You
Mama Maybelle: Lover's Farewell
Ernest Tubb: I'll Step Aside

11:00: D-Con
Cowboy Copas (host): I Love You Because
Annie Lou and Danny: I Still Do
Lazy Jim Day: Singing the News
Cowboy Copas: Waltz of the Wind
Big Howdy: Fire in the Mountain

11:15: Hank & Audrey's Corral
Hank Williams (host): Moaning the Blues
Sam and Kirk: While I'm Away
Moon Mulligan: Pipe Liner's Blues
Hank Williams: Cold, Cold Heart
Fiddle: Sally Goodin'

11:30: No Sponsor
Hank Snow (host): Unwanted Sign Upon Your Heart
Lew Childre: Horsie Keep you Tail Up
The Crook Brothers: Billy in the Low Ground
Hank Snow: Golden Rocket
The Crook Brothers: Cumberland Gap

11:45: No Sponsor
George Morgan (host): Cry, Baby Heart
Lonzo and Oscar: I Courted the Sunshine but Married the Rain
The Fruit Jar Drinkers: Rabbit Where is you Mammy
George Morgan: Rainbow in my Heart
The Fruit Jar Drinkers: Chinese Breakdown

That will do it for this week. As a reminder, next week is the Grand Ole Opry's 87th birthday celebration (yes it is early this year) and I will be in Nashville next week. I will take in the Opry Country Classics show on Thursday, and all of the Opry shows over the weekend, along with the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree. More details to come.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Loretta Lynn-50th Opry Anniversary

This Tuesday night, the Grand Ole Opry will honor Loretta Lynn as she will be celebrating her 50th year as an Opry member. Her actual Opry induction date was September 25, 1962. While Loretta has been one of the greatest female singers in the history of country music, her history at the Opry has been spotty at best. As with many of the Opry's members, when she first joined the show, she made regular appearances, especially on segments hosted by her friend Ernest Tubb. Then over the years, as the hit records came and she moved into superstar status, she has largely ignored the Opry. In the past decade, her appearances have been few and far between. For 2012, this will be just her 2nd Opry appearance, while in 2011 she made it to the Opry just once. Since 2000, when she made 12 Opry appearances, she has averaged just 3 shows per year.

Loretta made her first Opry appearance on October 15, 1960. Teddy and Doyle Wilburn were instrumental in getting her to Nashville and helped to get her booked on the Opry. Loretta later recalled her first night. "Ernest Tubb was the one who introduced me. I was on the Pet Milk part of the show. And I bought this dress to wear-it was real thin and had big puffed sleeves. It was kinda like a party dress. Lester Wilburn's wife cut my hair and got me ready for my first time on the Grand Ole Opry. I remember going out on stage and I remember tapping my foot. I was so scared I don't remember anything else." That night she sang, "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl." Leslie Wilburn played bass behind; Lester Wilburn was on rhythm guitar. She said the audience responded to her well. "Oh, yeah! They figured if you was good enough to be on the Grand Ole Opry, you must be okay.

After that Opry appearance, Loretta moved on, returning to Nashville in July 1961. On that return visit, she appeared on the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree. During the broadcast she mentioned Patsy Cline and the fact that she was hospitalized. Later, she met Patsy and they developed a strong friendship that lasted the remainder of Patsy's life.  

Prior to her joining the Opry, Loretta was a guest on the Opry for seventeen straight weeks. As Loretta said, "It seems there were a lot of girl singers who were trying to get to the top at the same time. When I came along they got jealous and started complaining at the Opry because I got invited back so much. Then they started telephoning me and saying I ought to go back to the West Coast."

I have no issue with Loretta personally. While I have not met her, may wife has and she has had only positive things to say about Loretta. I have seen her on the Opry many times and she has always done a great job. And I have no issue with the Opry honoring Loretta for this great achievement of being an Opry member for 50 years. I just wish she was at the Opry more and remembers how important the Opry once was to her career.

I do not have the line-up from the night Loretta first performed on the Opry, or the night she became a member, but here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, September 25th, when Loretta Lynn will be honored for 50 years of Opry membership.

7:00: Jimmy Dickens; Lee Ann Womack
7:30: Crystal Gayle; Trace Adkins
8:15: Bill Anderson; Miranda Lambert
8:45: Pistol Annies; Loretta Lynn

Congratulations to Loretta Lynn

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Grand Ole Opry 9/21 & 9/22--Updated

The Opry has made a few changes to the line-ups.

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend, 1 on Friday night and the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night. What is noticed right away is no Jimmy Dickens this weekend. He had previously cancelled out of the Tuesday Night Opry this past week and to be honest, did not sound so good on Saturday night. Here is hoping that this is nothing more than getting a little voice rest.

As far as the Friday Night Opry, there are a couple of highlights. First, Helen Cornelius will be making an Opry appearance with Jim Ed Brown. Back in the 1980s, they were a great duo that won a few awards and had a number of hits. It is always a treat when they perform together. The other highlight is the return of Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen to the Opry stage. Chris Hillman was a member of the Byrds and of The Desert Rose Band. Chris & Herb's CD, "At Edwards Barn" is great and I have it in my collection. When they did a previous Opry appearance they were very well received. Also on Friday night, bluegrass legend and Opry member Ralph Stanley will be on, along with Opry members Joe Diffie and Diamond Rio.

Saturday night's Grand Ole Opry will feature frequent Opry guests Edens Edge, Andy Gibson, Exile and Lee Greenwood. When comparing the 2 nights, Friday night is definitly the stronger of the 2 this weekend.

Friday September 21:
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Joe Diffie; Gwen Sebastian
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Johnny Counterfit; The Isaacs
8:15: Jean Shepard (host); Bucky Covington; Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen
8:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); Helen Cornelius; Ralph Stanley; Diamond Rio

Saturday September 22:
7:00: John Conlee (host); Edens Edge;Jimmy C Newman; Connie Smith
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Andy Gibson; Exile
8:15: Jean Shepard (host); Jesse McReynolds; Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Chuck Wicks; Lee Greenwood

As of this point, there is a slot to fill on Saturday night. I wish I could tell you who the host of the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree is this weekend, but as of yet they have not settled on a name.

For our look back at Opry history this week, I have the line-up from Saturday September 23, 1989. There is really nothing special about this show, but it is one of the line-ups that I have in my collection so I thought it would be nice to share it and see what the Opry had just 23 years ago.

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
George Hamilton IV (host); Break My Mind
Skeeter Davis: I Ain't Never
George Hamilton IV: Life's Railway To Heaven

6:45: Rudy's
Charlie Walker (host); Roly Poly
Jim & Jesse: Thanks For The Trip To Paradise
Charlie Walker: Take Me Back To Tulsa

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host); Wake Up, Jacob
Osborne Brothers: Ruby
Jean Shepard: Slowly
Billy Grammer: I Dreamed Of An Old Love Affair/Gotta Travel On
Jeannie Seely: One Step Away From Coming Home
Porter Wagoner: Tennessee Saturday Night

7:30: Standard Candy
Del Reeves (host); Girl On The Billboard
Jeanne Pruett: I Oughta Feel Guilty
Roy Drusky: Have I Stayed Away Too Long
Charlie Louvin: The Precious Jewel/Everytime You Leave
Del Reeves: Bad News

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host); Wabash Cannonball
Connie Smith: I Never Once Stopped Loving You/Once A Day
4 Guys: When You've Got A Good Woman It Shows/How Married Are You, Mary Ann
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Grey Eagle

8:30: Music Valley Merchants
Jim Ed Brown (host); Lyin In Love With You
Vic Willis Trio: Beer Barrel Polka
Jan Howard: The One You Slip Around With
Bill Carlisle: Little Liza Jane
Ray Pillow: I'll Break Out Again Tonight
Jim Ed Brown: The Old Lamplighter

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host); Dooley
Del Reeves: Don't You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me
Ray Pillow: Days When You Were Still In Love With Me
Jim & Jesse: When I Dream About The Southland/The Night Runner
Porter Wagoner: I've Enjoyed As Much Of This As I Can Stand/You've Gotta Have A License

10:00: Little Debbie
Osborne Brothers (host); My Cabin In Caroline
Jean Shepard: I Just Had You On MY Mind
Osborne Brothers: Beneath Still Waters

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host); Meeting In The Air
Billy Grammer: Happy Birthday Donna/I Was Born In Renfro Valley/The Waltz You Saved For Me
Dan Kelly: Sally Goodin

10:30: Pet Milk
George Hamilton IV (host); Abilene
Charlie Louvin: My Baby's Gone
George Hamilton IV: Forever Young

10:45: B.C. Powder
Charlie Walker (host)l Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
Jeannie Seely: I'll Be Around When It's Over
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Bill Cheatham
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down

11:00: Coca-Cola
Jim Ed Brown (host); Pop-A-Top
Justin Tubb: As Long As There's A Sunday
Connie Smith: Walkin After Midnight
Bill Carlisle: Oh, What A Party
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells/Send Me The Pillow You Dream On

11:30: Creamette
4 Guys (host); I'm All Tied Up
Roy Drusky: More And More
Jan Howard: Heartaches By The Number
Vic Willis Trio: Sue City Sue
4 Guys: Wings Of A Dove/My Special Angel/I've Had The Time Of My Life

Lot's of big names missing on this particular night, but still a good show.

On a final note, I wanted to thank Jeannie Seely. On last week's Opry, Jeannie celebrated her 45th year as an Opry member. She also hosted the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree, a show that featured many guest artists who came out to celebrate with her. During the Midnight Jamboree, she was kind enough to mention my name, as I had sent to her the Opry line-up from the night she joined the Opry in 1967. Thanks Jeannie (and thank you Ron!!).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grand Ole Opry 9/14 & 9/15--Updated Line-Up

As expected, the Opry has filled out this week's line-up. Amazing that with 65+ Opry members, they had to go with 3 non-members to fill it out.

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend, 1 on Friday night and the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night. The highlight for Opry fans this weekend will be the 45th anniversary of Jeannie Seely joining the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. Jeannie joined on September 16, 1967 and has been a very loyal Opry member. She joined the year after having her career record, "Don't Touch Me", which went to #1 on the country charts and won her the 1966 Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. She had a number of hits after that and was also a successful songwriter. She was the duet partner with Jack Greene and together they had a number of hits. In her early years on the Opry, Jeannie was also known for how she appeared on stage, often with a bare midriff or a very short skirt. And she always played up to the men in the audience, and still does.

Joining Jeannie on the Friday Night Opry this week will be Billy Ray Cyrus and Steep Canyon Rangers, along with other guest artists Billy Dean and Elizabeth Cook. Saturday Night's show will feature, in addition to Jeannie, the beautiful and highly talented Sara Evans. Also guesting will be Heidi Newfield and Will Hoge.

Friday September 14
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Billy Dean; Elizabeth Cook
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Andy Griggs
8:15: George Hamilton IV (host); Tyler Farr; Steep Canyon Rangers
8:45: The Whites (host); Jesse McReynolds; Billy Ray Cyrus

Saturday September 15
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Heidi Newfield; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; The Isaacs
8:15: The Whites (host); Jan Howard; Will Hoge; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Sara Evans

That comes out to 10 artists per show with just 6 Opry members on Friday Night and 7 on Saturday night. I also expect another artist or two that will be added to the shows.

The Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree will be hosted by Jeannie Seely this week and the Shop will honor her with a special 45th anniversary show. I am sure several guest artists will stop over and help Jeannie celebrate.

The line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, September 18 has been announced. As with the past several Tuesday night's, the line-up is pretty strong featuring Opry members Lorrie Morgan and Dierks Bentley. Nice to see Lorrie returning to the Opry stage. She has been missed.

7:00: Lorrie Morgan; Riders In The Sky
7:30: Jimmy Wayne; Jimmy Dickens
8:15: Bill Anderson; Kellie Pickler; Dierks Bentley

Now for this week's look back in history and into the Grand Ole Opry archives. This week I go back to Saturday September 18 1965, 47 years ago for a real classic Grand Ole Opry show.

7:30: Luzianne
Leroy Van Dyke (host): Auctioneer
Bill Carlisle: Business Man
Connie Smith: Then And Only Then
Auctioneers: Remington Ride
Leroy Van Dyke: Just A State Of Mind
Bill Carlisle: Same Ol' Tale That The Crow Told Me
Connie Smith: The Hinges On The Door
Auctioneers: Old Joe Clark
Leroy Van Dyke: It's All Over Now Baby Blue

8:00: Martha White
Roy Drusky (host): Strangers
Jim & Jesse: Memphis
Merle Kilgore: Tiger Woman
Alan Shelton: Bending The Strings
Roy Drusky: Reel Me A Nanner
Crook Brothers: Instrumental
Jim & Jesse: I Wish You Knew
Merle Kilgore: Ring Of Fire
Jerry Whitehurst: Java
Roy Drusky: White Lightning Express

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Gathering Flowers From The Hillside/Freight Train Blues
Howdy Forrester: Instrumental
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Onie Wheeler: Hang My Britches Up
Brother Oswald: Worry, Worry Blues
Roy Acuff: The Great Judgement Morning
Jimmy Riddle & Howdy Forrester: Jessup Polka

9:00: Pet Milk
Ernest Tubb (host): Lots Of Luck
Wilburn Brothers: It's Another World
Loretta Lynn & Teddy Wilburn: The Race Is On
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Fire On The Mountain
Ernest Tubb: A Memory, That's All You Ever Be To Me
Wilburn Brothers: I'm Gonna Tie One On Tonight
Jack Greene: Every Since My Baby Went Away
Loretta Lynn: The Home You're Tearing Down
Loretta Lynn & Ernest Tubb: Our Hearts Are Holding Hands

9:30: Kelloggs
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Willis Brothers: Pinball Anonymous
Hank Locklin: Wild Side Of Life
Marion Worth (?)
Hank Snow: Tears In The Trade Winds
The Blue Boys: I Hear Little Rock Calling
Willis Brothers: A Satisfied Mind
Hank Snow: My Memories Are You

10:00: Schick
Leroy Van Dyke (host): Walk On By
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Auctioneers: Sweet Georgia Brown
Bill Carlisle: Too Old To Cut The Mustard
Leroy Van Dyke: It's All Over Now Baby Blue

10:15: McCarter
Roy Acuff (host): Tennessee Central No. 9
Roy Drusky: Second Hand Rose
Harold Weakley: Where No One Stands Alone
Jimmy Riddle & Onie Wheeler: Fox Chase

10:30: Harvey's
Jim & Jesse (host): I Like The Old Time Working Of The Lord
Connie Smith: If I Talk To Him
Jim & Jesse: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Alan Shelton: Cripple Creek

10:45: Newport
Ernest Tubb (host): Filipino Baby
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel
Cal Smith: Oklahoma Hills
Ernest Tubb: Waltz Across Texas

11:00: Coca Cola
Hank Snow (host): I Don't Hurt Anymore
Wilburn Brothers: Making Plans
Harold Morrison: I'm A Bluebird
Loretta Lynn: Blue Kentucky Girl
Hank Snow: The Queen Of Draw Polka Town
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldier's Joy
Wilburn Brothers: It's Another World
Loretta Lynn: When Lonely Hits Your Heart
Chubby Wise: Lee Highways Blues

11:30: Lava
Hank Locklin (host): Send Me The Pillow You Dream On
Willis Brothers: A 6 Ft. 2 By 4
Marion Worth: I'm Picking Up The Pieces Of Your Heart
Archie Campbell: Most Richly Blessed
Hank Locklin: Flying South
Merle Kilgore: Wolverton Mountain
Willis Brothers: I Still Do
Marion Worth: Silver Threads & Golden Needles
Hank Locklin: Danny Boy

There you go as we enjoy another week at the Opry.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Remembering Rollin "Oscar" Sullivan

Friday morning we were greated with the news that Rollin "Oscar" Sullivan had passed away in Nashville at the age of 93. Rollin was one-half of the great country duo, Lonzo and Oscar, members of the Grand Ole Opry for many years. I am not going to go into the entire history of Lonzo and Oscar as that has been printed elsewhere, especially in the Tennessean over this past weekend. While there were several Lonzo's over the years, in addition to those mentioned in the articles I have posted below, there was only 1 Oscar. Part of the Grand Ole Opry since 1942, Rollin made the decision to retire in 1985. Lonzo and Oscar were popular and loyal Opry members. In addition to their Opry duties, for a period of time they operated a popular dinner and show theater in Nashville. My favorite memory of Lonzo and Oscar, and mentioned by several in their comments, was when the duo appeared on the segments hosted by Hank Snow, and the problems Hank had pronouncing their names. There was good natured kidding  that went on between them.

I have decided to reprint a couple of articles on Lonzo and Oscar that appeared in the Grand Ole Opry history books over the years. The 1st article I wanted to post is from the Grand Ole Opry book published in 1952:

"Few performers have been able to burlesque country musicians successfully, for sincerity is one of the qualities most important to success in the country music profession. The team of Lonzo and Oscar are the only ones on the Grand Ole Opry who can get by with poking fun at their fellow performers and the music that they sing seriously. Lonzo and Oscar have been going strong on the Grand Ole Opry since 1944, when their first big hit was "I'm My Own Grandpa." At that time and for several years afterward, they depended more on straight novelty tunes such as There's A Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea, If Texas Knew What Arkansas, Onion, Onion, I'll Go Chasin' Women, and My Dreams Turned Into Nightmares. Later, however, they began a series of humorous versions of top hillbilly tunes, the first of which was "I'm Movin' On, No. 2." This was a take-off on Hank Snow's big hit. Lonzo and Oscar were so successful with their version that they followed it with "Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way, No. 2" and several others.

About this time they enlarged their team by adding a third member, Cousin Jody, a toothless comic with a dozen humorous facial expression, comic antics, and a masterful if uproariously funny technique on the steel guitar. Lonzo and Oscar themselves are both accomplished musicians. Before joining the Grand Ole Opry, Oscar played drums, piano, saxophone, and mandolin. On the Opry, he has concentrated on the mandolin and is considered one of the country's top men on that instrument. Lonzo also plays the guitar, fiddle, and bass fiddle. On the Opry, he confines himself principally to the guitar. All three members of the team wear exaggerated hillbilly costumes. Lonzo wears a plaid shirt, ordinary country slacks, Little Abner shoes, and a cap. Oscar wears a pair of plaid modified knickers, a loud shirt, suspenders, a tousled blonde wig, a comic felt hat, and he blacks out several teeth. Cousin Jody wears a checkered shirt, oversized cotton slacks with suspenders, a felt hat turned up in front, and he takes his teeth out.

In addition to their regular appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, this team makes frequent guest appearances on other WSM shows, on local and network television shows, and plays many personal appearances from coast to coast. They record for RCA Victor. Lonzo and Oscar are brothers, Johnny and Rollin Sullivan. Their original home was in Kentucky, but they now live in Nashville. Both are married and have children. Cousin Jody, in reality Tex Summey, is also married and makes his home in Nashville. Despite his nickname, he is a native of Tennessee."

The 2nd article is from the Grand Ole Opry WSM Picture-History Book, Volume 7, Number 3 from 1984, when Dave Hooten was Lonzo.

"Rare are the performers who have been able to burlesque or satire country musicians successfully as in the case of Lonzo & Oscar. Born Rollin Sullivan and Dave Hooten, they are the only duo on the Grand Ole Opry who can get by with poking fun at their collegues and the music they sing seriously. For Rollin Sullivan and Dave Hooten, the road to stardom was rocky. Originally, the team was composed of Ken Marvin and Oscar (Rollin) and they made their debut on WTJS Radio in Jackson, Tennessee shortly before World War II. Shortly after this, Ken withdrew from the act and Rollin's brother, Johnny Sullivan became a full-time member.

Oscar joined the Opry in 1942, and Lonzo became part of the cast two years later. Once they joined forces, the began to click. Their first and biggest record was "I'm My Own Grandpa," a song which they frankly admit they didn't think would make it at all. Tragedy struck in 1967 when Johnny (Lonzo) died of a heart attack. As agreed before his death, "The show must go on," thereby Dave Hooten was asked to replace the void left by Johnny's death. Columbia Records accepted the new Lonzo and Oscar team, and their first release, "Did You Have to Bring That Up While I Was Eating?" has started them on a new ladder of fame.

They continued on to new heights as a comedy team making hundreds of television films and records. They have appeared on numerous network telecasts and have worked extensively with many syndicated television shows originating from Nashville. In addition, their comedy stylings have graced numerous transcriptions and Armed Forces radio shows. As comedians, they agree you're got to act fast. "Our motto is you've got to make the guy laugh for the first time in five seconds. Then the second laugh comes easy. You shouldn't give them time to think. You need quick, catchy stuff. We've built our comedy on tearing down songs. If someone has a sweet song, we change the words to make it funny." The future looks bright for this duo, as their schedule is filled with personal appearances throughout the world."

Rollin lived to the age of 93, and his death was somewhat unexpected. After not being in the public eye for a number of years, he recently began appearing on some of the country reunion shows that have been shown on RFD-TV. On those shows he looked pretty good. When I was at the Opry a couple of years ago, Jean Shepard introduced Rollin, who was sitting on the stage. He stood up and recieved a nice response from the audience.

In memory of Rollin Sullivan, I have decided to post the Grand Ole Opry line-up and running order of the show from Saturday October 19, 1985, the last Opry performance by Lonzo & Oscar:

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Del Reeves (host): Two Dollars In The Jukebox/A Dime At A Time/Looking At The World Through A Windshield
Vic Willis Trio: You Looked So Good In Love
Del Reeves: Don't You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me

6:45: Rudy's
4 Guys (host): Give Me One More Chance
Wilma Lee Cooper: Big Midnight Special
4 Guys: My Special Angel

7:00: Shoney's
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Loretta Lynn: Wouldn't That Be Great/Heart, Don't Do This To Me/Coal Miner's Daughter
Howdy Forrester: Instrumental
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

7:30: Standard Candy
Jimmy Dickens (host): I'm Little But I'm Loud
Billy Walker: You Gave Me A Mountain
Jean Shepard: Second Fiddle
George Hamilton IV: Early Morning Rain
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Sugar In The Goard
Jimmy Dickens: Raggedy Ann

8:00: Martha White
Grandpa Jones (host): Apple Jack
Jeanne Pruett: A Rented Room
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Roy Drusky: Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy
Connie Smith: You've Got Me Right Where You Want Me
Tommy Hunter: Paradise
Grandpa Jones: Gone Home

8:30: Music Valley Merchants
Hank Snow (host): I Have You And That's Enough For Me
Jimmy C Newman: LaCajun Band
Charlie Walker: Time Changes Everything
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Bill Carlisle: Same Ol' Tale That The Crow Told Me
Hank Snow: I've Done At Least One Thing That Was Good In My Life

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Del Reeves (host): Louisiana Legs
George Hamilton IV: Abilene
4 Guys: Whiskey And Water
Loretta Lynn: You Ain't Woman Enough/Fist City/Don't Come Home A Drinkin'/ You're Looking At Country/Wouldn't It Be Great
Del Reeves: Anywhere U.S.A.

10:00: Little Debbie
Jimmy Dickens (host): Out Behind The Barn
Jan Howard: Why Lady Why
Ray Pillow: The 24th Hour
Jimmy Dickens: My Eyes Are Jealous

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Night Train To Memphis
Connie Smith: Did We Have To Come This Far To Say Goodbye/Sing, Sing, Sing

10:30: Martha White
Grandpa Jones (host): Nelly Bly
Jeannie Seely: Tell Me Again
Grandpa Jones: The Sweet Sunny South

10:45: Beech-Nut
Jack Greene (host): Midnight Tennessee Woman
Jean Shepard: I Just Had You On My Mind
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Old Joe Clark
Jack Greene: I'm Going Through Hell For An Angel

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Wreck Of Old No. 9
Justin Tubb: Be Better To Your Baby
Stonewall Jackson: Why I'm Walkin'
Billy Walker: Coffee Brown Eyes
Bill Carlisle: Too Old To Cut The Mustard
Hank Snow: My Oahu Rose

11:30: Quincy's
Jimmy C Newman (host): Jambalaya
Charlie Walker: Who's Heart Are You Breaking Tonight
Roy Drusky: Have I Stayed Away Too Long
Johnny Russell: Kawliga/No One Will Ever Know
Jimmy C Newman: Tawna Woo Woo

With the death of Rollin Sullivan, another link to the Opry's past is gone. There are only several living country artists who were part of the Opry before World War II. As each one passes, another piece of history goes with it. While I don't know if Lonzo and Oscar had Hall of Fame careers, they did have nice Opry careers and I was glad that Bill Anderson and Eddie Stubbs mentioned Rollin on the Opry this past weekend and took a few moments to talk about him.

Thanks to all who took a few moments this weekend to remember Rollin "Oscar" Sullivan.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Grand Ole Opry 9/7 & 9/8 & A Look Back at Del Wood---Updated

The Opry has filled out the line-up for this weekend.

As far as myself, I will be "off the air" for the weekend on an out-of-town trip to the great state of North Carolina. If there is anything breaking I will report it, but other than that don't expect any posts or updates from myself until Monday. Enjoy the weekend.

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend. As happens quite a bit at the Opry, after a strong Saturday night show featuring the Oak Ridge Boys and Carrie Underwood, and a Tuesday Night Opry with Keith Urban, the Opry falls back this week on the talent level of the shows.

The Friday Night Opry will feature previous Opry guests The Grascals, Mindy Smith and Canaan Smith, along with new group Due West. Saturday nights show will feature the very talented Kathy Mattea. In my opinion, she is one of the fine country singers of our generation and has gotten only better as she has aged. In addition, Sarah Darling and Mark Wills are listed, as is Jimmy Dickens, who did not appear last week on the Opry.

Friday September 7
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Canaan Smith; Due West
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Mindy Smith
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds; Casey James
8:45: John Conlee (host); The Whites; The Grascals

Saturday September 8
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bret Eldridge; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: The Whites (host); James Wesley; Kathy Mattea
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; Sarah Darling; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Mark Wills

With a couple of slots still to fill, there are 11 acts on the Friday night show and 10 for Saturday night, of whom 7 are Opry members each night.

The host of the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree will be Tony Booth, the fine honky-tonk singer out of Texas. Tony has been featured a lot on Willie's Place and does a very nice job.

This week's look back at the history of the Opry involves a former Opry star who many times is forgotten in the history of the Opry and that is the great piano player Del Wood, who on September 9, 1989 made her last Grand Ole Opry appearance.

Polly Adelaide Hazelwood, who was from Nashville, joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1953 after turning down a two-week engagement with Bob Crosby the year before to guest on the Opry. Her ragtime piano playing was a new sound for the Opry and brought an instrument to the Opry stage that was used by just a few groups. She started playing piano at an early age and attended East High School in Nashville. She was a true one-hit wonder with "Down Yonder."It is still considered the biggest-selling instrumental number of all time. Her nickname at the Opry was the "Queen of the Ivories" and even though she had just the one monster hit, Del actually recorded over 20 albums and had 60 singles to her credit. Del passed away about a month after her last Opry show, on October 3, 1989 at the age of 69 after suffering a stroke She was an Opry member for 36 years and while her Opry appearances seemed to be limited to just 1 show per weekend during her final year, she was a loyal member of the cast.

In honor of Del Wood and her final Opry appearance, here is the line-up and running order of the 2 shows on Saturday September 9, 1989.

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
Stonewall Jackson (host): Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
Jeannie Seely: I'll Be Around When It's Over
Stonewall Jackson: Muddy Water

6:45: Rudy's
Bill Anderson (host): Before I Met You
Stu Phillips: Blue Canadian Rockies
Bill Anderson: A World Of Make Believe

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): On A Highway Headed South
Del Reeves: Bad News
Ray Pillow: I Guess He Knows Something I Don't Know
Dottie West: Are You Happy Baby/Together Again
Porter Wagoner: Forty Miles From Poplar Bluff

7:30: Standard Candy
4 Guys (host): Baby, You Look Good To Me Tonight
Jean Shepard: Slippin Away
Charlie Pride: Looking Through Amy's Eyes/Moutain Of Love/There Goes My Everything
4 Guys: My Special Angel

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Connie Smith: I've Got My Baby On My Mind/Once A Day
Jimmy C Newman: LaCajun Band/Cajun Stripper
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Patti On The Turnpike
Roy Acuff: Once More

8:30: Music Valley Merchants
Hank Snow (host): Mama Tried
Skeeter Davis: I Ain't Never
Charlie Louvin: The Precious Jewel
Ernie Ashworth: There's No Place I'd Rather Be Tonight
Bill Carlisle: Leave That Liar Alone
Hank Snow: I'm Not At All Sorry For You

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): (?)
Wilma Lee Cooper: I'm Picking Up The Pieces
Stu Phillips: If Loving You Means Anything
Dottie West: Country Sunshine
Pay PIllow: The Kind Of Love I Can't Forget
Porter Wagoner: What Ain't To Be Just Might Happen/Y'All Come

10:00: Little Debbie
Bill Anderson (host): Son Of The South
Jeannie Seely: Don't Touch Me
Bill Anderson: Still

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Sunshine Special
Charley Pride: Looking Through Amy's Eyes/Mountain Of Love/Kiss An Angel Good Morning

10:30: Pet Milk
Del Reeves (host): Two Dollars In The Jukebox/A Dime At A Time
Jean Shepard: I'll Sail My Ship Alone
Del Reeves: There She Goes

10:45: B.C. Powder
Jimmy C Newman (host): Pistol Packin' Mama
Connie Smith: You're Cheatin' Heart
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Durham's Bull
Jimmy C Newman: Cajun Honey

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): I Don't Hurt Anymore
Skeeter Davis: Silver Threads & Golden Needles
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharmon
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong With The Way That We're Doing It Now
Hank Snow: Among My Souvenirs

11:30: Creamette
4 Guys (host) (?)
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Bill Carlisle: Happy Birthday Sheila/Too Old To Cut The Mustard
Charlie Louvin: New Dreams & Sunshine
4 Guys: I'm All Tied Up

What is interesting is that if you look at the timing of the show, the last 2 segments which would have been an hour in length, only lasted 45 minutes. Also, Del Wood's last Opry appearance was actually during the televised portion that week. While the 4 Guys hosted, Jack Greene was originally scheduled to host but cancelled out that night.

On a final note, there are 2 things that are no longer on the Opry and are missed. The first is comedy. There are no true comedy acts on the show. While Mike Snider is funny and tells jokes, he is not a true comedian. Comedy seems to have become a lost art at the Opry after the death of Jerry Clower. The second lost art at the Opry is instrumental music. There are no longer any string bands and no true instrumental acts. Del Wood was the end of the line for piano players. While Buck White and Ronnie Milsap play the piano on the Opry, that is not the primary part of their act. For Del Wood, the piano was it. As much as she was not a major act at the show, she was a distinctive act and is missed. The Opry continues to modernize itself, keeping up with the newest trends and newest acts in country music. I don't think it would hurt the Opry at all to look back once in a while and remember it's past.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

September Opry Highlights

As I do each month, here are the important and historical events that took place in Grand Ole Opry history during the month of September. Enjoy!

September 15, 1903: Country Music Hall of Fame member and the "King of Country Music" Roy Acuff was born in Maynardville, Tennessee.

September 13, 1911: The "Father of Bluegrass Music" Bill Monroe was born.

September 26, 1925: The late Marty Robbins was born near Glendale, Arizona. Marty made his first Opry appearance in 1953 and would become an Opry member shortly after that. He would remain one of the Opry's most popular members until his death on December 8, 1982.

September 28, 1926: The great comedian Jerry Clower was born near Liberty, Mississippi. When Jerry joined the Opry in 1973, he was the last Opry member to join the cast while the show was still located at the Ryman Auditorium. He was also the last dedicated comedian to join the cast. When you think of the great comedians who were Opry members, it is a shame that there is no real comedy on the Opry today.

September 1, 1931: Lecil Travis Martin, otherwise known as "Boxcar Willie" was born in Sterratt, Texas. He made his Grand Ole Opry debut on June 19, 1980, at the age of 49. He had been playing a festival in England and Wesley Rose saw him and invited Boxcar to Nashville, where he met Roy Acuff. Lecil became Boxcar in 1975, which was the year John Denver and Olivia Newton John had won CMA awards and many were unhappy with the direction that country music was going in. On February 21, 1981 he became a member of the Opry and would remain an Opry member until his death of April 12, 1999. Boxcar was also one of the first country performers to open a theater in Branson, Missouri.

September 12, 1931: Grand Ole Opry member George Jones was born in Saratoga, Texas. It is hard to believe that with the life George has led that he will be celebrating his 81st birthday.

September 5, 1945: Wally Fowler joined, or in his case, rejoined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry.

September 18, 1947: On this night, and the night that followed, Ernest Tubb and Minnie Pearl, along with other Opry members, played two shows at Carnegie Hall in New York. Here is how Ernest Tubb remembered it, "The radio and newspaper people ignored us the first night we were there, but we turned away six thousand people and the next night, every reporter was there." Billboard magazine also reported that, "such screaming and wild applause after each number hasn't been heard in town since Frank Sinatra brought out the bobbysoxers at the Paramount."

September 4, 1948: Eddy Arnold leaves the Grand Ole Opry to star in his own radio show on the CBS network. At the time, Eddy was the Opry's biggest star. He would never return.

September 24, 1948: WSM began the Friday Night Frolics. This program took place in Studio C at WSM studios. In 1964 the show was moved to the Ryman Auditorium and would become known as the Friday Night Opry. The show was originally started in an effort to keep Eddy Arnold, who left the Opry, on WSM.

September 13, 1952: Webb Pierce makes his first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry.

September 24, 1956: WSM radio fired Opry manager Jim Denny. He was replaced by Dee Kilpatrick. Jim Denny owned Cedarwood Publishing Company, which was a force in the music publishing business. Jack Stapp, who was also dismissed, owned Tree Publishing. WSM executive Irving Waugh said, "The board of directors had indicated that Denny and Stapp should be given the option of resigning or giving up their publishing interests." But that didn't happen in the case of Denny as he was fired instead. Jim Denny had started with the Opry in their early days and had become not only the Opry's manager, but a powerful force behind the scenes at the Opry and with many of the Opry's members.

September 25, 1956: Dee Kilpatrick was named the Grand Ole Opry's "general director." Kilpatrick would succeed Jim Denny not only as the Opry's manager but also as manager of the radio station's Artists' Service Bureau, a fancy name for the Opry's booking agency. He was a former record company executive When he was appointed as the Opry's manager, he said, "They asked me what I thought was wrong. We'll, back when I was working with Mercury Records I was at the Opry almost every Saturday night I was in town, and I could look at the audience and see what was wrong. The Opry didn't have the appeal to the younger audiences that you have to have if you're going to keep growing. All I could see there were older people and little tweeny kids. There wasn't any teenagers." Kilpatrick would begin to add younger acts to the Opry's cast including the Everly Brothers and Porter Wagoner. When you read that quote from 1956 about the Opry's aging audience, it sounds like some of the same issues that current Opry general manager Pete Fisher is dealing with today.

September 30, 1958: Grand Ole Opry member Marty Stuart was born in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Later this year, Marty will be celebrating 20 years as an Opry member. His RFD-TV show is reported to be the highest rated program on their network.

September 25, 1962: Loretta Lynn joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. Although her recent Opry appearances have been very infrequent, later this month she will be honored for 50 years of Opry membership.

September 27, 1963: The National Life and Accident Insurance Company purchased the Ryman Auditorium from the City of Nashville for about $200,000. WSM, which operated the building, changed the name to the Grand Ole Opry House, but it would always be known as the Ryman. With ownership, WSM was able to do repairs that were needed on the building and the city of Nashville was unable to do.

September 15, 1965: In some of the Opry's historical records, this is listed as the date Connie Smiht joined the Grand Ole Opry. Other records list the date as June 13, 1965. She might have been asked to join in June, but my records indicate that the September date is the first one that Connie appeared as an Opry member.

September 16, 1967: Jeannie Seely joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be her 45th year as an Opry member. Jeannie remembers the night she joined, "So it was September 16, 1967, when I joined. My parents came down from Pennsylvania for the show. About halfway through 'Don't Touch Me' the realization hit me of what this really meant. I was twenty-six, and from four years old I wanted that moment. I started crying. Then I encored and that was even worse. Strickly emotional."

September 19, 1968: Former Grand Ole Opry member Red Foley passed away in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Red came to the Opry in April 1946, taking over as the host of the Prince Albert Show. He would stay with the Opry for about a decade, leaving to work in television in Springfield, Missouri. Red is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and will go down as one of the all time greats in country music history.

September 17, 1977: Reba McEntire made her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. She would late join the Opry as a member, but she rarely appears on the show.

September 6, 1984: Ernest Tubb passed away in a Nashville hospital. Ernest had been in declining health for a number of years and had made his last Opry appearance on August 14, 1982. That was also the last night that he hosted the Midnight Jamboree. He was 70 at the time of his death. Jack Greene had some memories of Ernest Tubb, "He was a great man for taking enough time for a songwriter that was trying to cut a song; he'd listen to all their songs and he's write'em a letter back. And he'd take the time for a disc jockey that wanted an interview, and he'd take the time for the fan that wanted an autograph. He'd take the time for the promoter; he'd always mention the promoter's name on stage. He knew all those promoters all over the country and he wanted everybody to make a dollar. I've seen him take all the money from the gate and put it back in the guy's pocket. He'd say, 'You didn't make a dime on this, so I don't want any money.' He'd really do that." Ernest was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1965 and along with Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe and Ernest Tubb, is considered one of the Opry's greatest stars.

September 4, 1991: Grand Ole Opry member Dottie West died in a Nashville hospital as a result of injuries suffered earlier in a car accident while on her way to perform on the Friday Night Opry. Dottie had been a member of the Opry since July 1964.

September 4, 1992: Former Opry member Carl Butler died in Franklin, Tennessee. Carl, along with his wife Pearl, became members of the Opry in 1962. Carl had first played the Opry in 1948 and was a fine singer and songwriter, having written a number of songs including, "If Teardrops Were Pennies." Dolly Parton would later call them instrumental in helping her out when she came to Nashville, and later in life, Dolly would return the favor. After they left the Opry and Pearl had passed away, Carl would still occasionally play the Opry.

September 9, 1986: Grand Ole Opry member Bill Monroe passed away after being in declining health after suffering a stroke earlier in the year. Bill had joined the Opry in 1939 and brought bluegrass music to the American country music audience.

September 11, 1993: The Stoney Mountain Cloggers made their final Grand Ole Opry appearance. The group leader was Ben Smathers and they had joined the Opry on September 13, 1958. Ben Smathers had passed away on September 13, 1990 at the age of 62.

September 20, 2004: Grand Ole Opry member Skeeter Davis passed away in a Nashville hospital at the age of 72. She had been ill with cancer for a number of years. Skeeter was known for her bright outfits and her smile when at the Opry.

September 23, 2004: It was not a good week at the Opry as Roy Drusky passed away after a period of declining health.

September 1, 2006: Taylor Swift made her first apperance on the Grand Ole Opry.

September 13, 2011: Grand Ole Opry member Wilma Lee Cooper passed away. Wilma, along with her husband Stoney Cooper, had been recording stars since the 1940s. They came to Nashville from the Wheeling Jamboree. After the death of Stoney, Wilma Lee continued as a solo artist. Her last solos Opry appearance was in February 2001, although she did return to the Opry stage to be honored for 50 years of Opry membership. He last appearance at the Opry House was in September 2010, as part of the Grand reopening of the Opry House.

September 27, 2011: Rascal Flatts were invited to become the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry. They would officially join the cast in October, as part of the Opry's birthday celebration.

September 27, 2011: Johnny Wright passed away in Nashville. He was the husband of Kitty Wells and was a former member of the Grand Ole Opry, first coming to the show in 1948. Along with Kitty, they would join the show in the 1950s and leave in the early 1960s.