This Tuesday Night, Darius Rucker will become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. I thought that this would be a good time to take a look back at the Opry members who have joined the cast since Pete Fisher became the Opry's general manager in June 1999.
Counting Darius Rucker, there are now 68 Opry members. Of those 68, 5 are either retired or not able to perform at this time and those include Jack Greene, Hal Ketchum, Barbara Mandrell, Jeanne Pruett and Ricky Van Shelton. Of the 68 Opry members, 18 became members since Pete Fisher took over the operations of the Opry. Those artists, with their inductions dates are Ralph Stanley (1-15-00), Pam Tillis (8-26-00), Brad Paisley (2-17-01), Trace Adkins (8-23-03), Del McCoury (10-25-03), Terri Clark (6-24-04), Dierks Bentley (10-1-05), Mel Tillis (6-9-07), Josh Turner (10-27-07), Charlie Daniels (1-19-08), Carrie Underwood (5-10-08), Craig Morgan (10-25-08), Montgomery Gentry (6-23-09), Blake Shelton (10-22-10), Oak Ridge Boys (8-6-11), Rascal Flatts (10-8-11), Keith Urban (4-21-12) and Darius Rucker (10-16-12).
It is interesting to note that after adding variety to the Opry's cast in his earlier years as the Opry's general manager, the last new female Opry member was Carrie Underwood in 2008 and the last new bluegrass Opry member was Del McCoury in 2003. With the exception of the Oak Ridge Boys in 2011, the last veteran country music singer to join the cast was Charlie Daniels in 2008. Obviously the trend is toward young male singers.
When Pete Fisher makes a decision on adding a new Opry member, he has been asking each new member to commit to at least 10 Opry apperances per year. It doesn't matter if it is on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, as long as it adds up to 10, he is fine. And with 3 shows on many of the Opry's weekends, that comes out to just 4 weekends each year to make the 10 appearances, or a couple of weekends, with a few Tuesday shows thrown in.
So how have these members done? Listed below are the Opry members listed above, with the number of appearances they have made each year since joining the cast.
Ralph Stanley: 2000-19; 2001-10; 2002-5; 2003-13; 2004-18; 2005-12; 2006-13; 2007-11; 2008-6
2009-10; 2010-6; 2011-5; 2012-4. (average of 11 per year).
Pam Tillis: 2000-4; 2001-11; 2002-13; 2003-9; 2004-16; 2005-12; 2006-19; 2007-21; 2008-2; 2009-12; 2010-6; 2011-16; 2012-4. (average of 12 per year).
Brad Paisley: 2001-28; 2002-13; 2003-12; 2004-9; 2005-7; 2006-5; 2007-4; 2008-4; 2009-3; 2010-4; 2011-3; 2012-4. (average of 9 per year).
Trace Adkins: 2003-15; 2004-10; 2005-10; 2006-7; 2007-12; 2008-11; 2009-10; 2010-8; 2011-6; 2012-5. (average of 10 per year).
Del McCoury: 2003-23; 2004-35; 2005-30; 2006-47; 2007-39; 2008-47; 2009-32; 2010-28; 2011-26; 2012-21. (average of 34 per year).
Terri Clark: 2004-11; 2005-9; 2006-9; 2007-10; 2008-10; 2009-5; 2010-8; 2011-10; 2012-3. (average of 9 per year).
Dierks Bentley: 2005-4; 2006-8; 2007-9; 2008-4; 2009-5; 2010-6; 2011-5; 2012-3. (average of 6 per year).
Mel Tillis: 2007-15; 2008-14; 2009-9; 2010-10; 2011-8; 2012-2. (average of 11 per year).
Josh Turner: 2007-12; 2008-11; 2009-7; 2010-6; 2011-8; 2012-5. (average of 9 per year).
Charlie Daniels: 2008-15; 2009-13; 2010-12; 2011-12; 2012-3. (average of 13 per year).
Carrie Underwood: 2008-9; 2009-10; 2010-6; 2011-8; 2012-8. (average of 8 per year).
Craig Morgan: 2008-10; 2009-10; 2010-10; 2011-10; 2012-9. (average of 10 per year).
Montgomery Gentry: 2009-9; 2010-7; 2011-6; 2012-3. (average of 7 per year).
Blake Shelton: 2010-9; 2011-4; 2012-0. (average of 6 per year).
Oak Ridge Boys: 2011-10; 2012-7.
Rascal Flatts: 2011-7; 2012-4.
Keith Urban: 2012-7.
I did not do averages for the the members who joined since 2011 as it is too early to establish a track record and the averages listed do not include 2012.
Overall, I would say that Pete Fisher has done a pretty good job. Now, I think it is obvious that he missed on Blake Shelton, and while Dierks Bentley and Montgomery Gentry are on the low end, at least they are showing up. I am concerned about the decrease appearances by Brad Paisley, but I am impressed that as big of a star as Carrie Underwood is, she is still maintaining a number of Opry appearances. I did notice that Ralph Stanley and Mel Tillis are down on their recent appearances, but they are both over the age of 80, so I have no issue with them.
While these numbers do not seem like much, compare them to the previous general manager, who allowed members to join with no commitment on the number of appearances and you have Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Travis Tritt, Alan Jackson, Trisha Yearwood and Clint Black, who make few if any Opry appearances, while veterans such as George Jones, Tom T Hall and Loretta Lynn have largely forgotten where the Opry House is.
While I would like to see the Opry members there more, I would say that the track record is getting better and I hope that Pete Fisher made a good choice with Darius Rucker. But, in looking at the newest members, I think he needs to take a look at the females and bluegrass groups and considering adding to those.
Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, October 16, 2012:
7:00: Jimmy Dickens; Clint Black
7:30: Bill Anderson; Elizabeth Cook; Connie Smith
8:00: Darius Rucker; Martina McBride; Vince Gill
This will be Clint Black's first Opry appearance of the year and it looks like Vince will be handling the induction of Darius Rucker.