Saturday, October 13, 2012

Darius Rucker Opry Induction and Thoughts On Other Recent Members

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.


  1. Does anyone know where Stonewall Jackson has been or how he is doing? He seemed to come back on the Opry every so often after the lawsuit was settled but I haven't seen him lately at all. (oldtimeopry)

  2. Fred, Bismarck:

    Agreed; he was MIA for even the birthday last week.

  3. Maybe after the farewell tour, George Jones will make more Opry appearances. Surly, he could find 10 nights a year to appear, living so close to the Opry as he does. It's my understanding he wants to get off of the road, not quit performing altogether. The Opry might be his chance to get that done.

  4. Stonewall has made only 1 Opry appearance this year. I know right after the lawsuit, his appearances were around 20, then they have been steadily dropping off. He has done the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree this year and he has made a few road show appearances and has looked and sounded pretty good. I think it is more of an issue between Stonewall and the Opry then anything else.

    As far as how is is doing, I know he has had a few minor health issues, as has his wife over the past year, but I don't it has been anything serious enough that has caused him to stop doing the Opry.

  5. Byron, this is a great analysis, and a reminder that the majority of "younger" Opry members may come close to a numerical commitment, but it doesn't mean they have an emotional one, if you all get my drift. I would add Dolly Parton to the list of Opry members who have forgotten where the place is.

  6. I am confused; on the Grand Ole Opry webpage the list of Opry Members is only 66.
    And isn't Tom T. Hall also retired, even though still a "member."

  7. You would think with a Master's Degree that I could count and I could add right. You are right, there are 66 members and adding Darius Rucker will make 67. On my list for some stupid reason I had Charlie Daniels listed and then I had the Charlie Daniels Band. I know Charlie is big, but not big enough to count twice!!

    As far as Tom T Hall, he is far from retired. He is still writing and making records, and does personal appearances, mostly around the Nashville area involving bluegrass. He just will not do the Opry and has made it plain that he no longer has any interest in doing the show.

  8. so what advantage is it for the "retired" performers to remain listed as Opry Members; I understand about those who are ill and may come back

  9. No advantage other than to say that they are a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

  10. There has always been some contoversy that Carrie Underwood is not country. The only year her numbers were down, she not only toured heavily and got married. I think it is time for the die hards to realize what an ambassador the industry has in Carrie and embrace her. Her music is definitely progressive country, but unlike others, she does not remix for pop radio. Country really is going to have to work hard to promote itself or if Billboard has its way, there will be nothing but pop music. My dream is to someday make it to the Opry to see Carrie, love her traditional country covers.

  11. This whole business of retiring from performing and still being a member of the Grand Ole Opry seems to have started with Barbara Mandrell, who specifically asked to remain an Opry member after she retired. She is still involved around Nashville and has been at the Opry several times since her retirement, just not performing.

    When Jeanne Pruett retired, she asked to be taken off the Opry's membership to make room for another female artist, but they have kept her as a member. Holly Dunn, when she retired, wanted to keep her Opry membership, and did for a while, but then the Opry dropped her. I do not know Ricky Van Shelton's situation, other than the fact that he has maintained his Opry membership in retirement.

    Previous to Barbara, when a performer retired, they gave up their Opry membership as it was understood that if you were an Opry member, you were expected to be active and performing. But times have changed and it would appear that each person's situation and how the Opry handles it depends of the individual.

  12. I'll echo Anonymous. Carrie Underwood has been good about her Opry commitments. And there's a long list of performers who struck many, including me, as too pop who were country by today's standards, at minimum. Anybody remember Bob Luman?

  13. Oh yes, Bob Luman is remembered. He was a fine performer and a dedicated Opry member, but many felt he was not country at all.

    I agree about Carrie Underwood. You can describe her music how you wish, but I will say that she does get to the Opry, even with her busy touring schedule.

  14. LOVED Bob Luman, love Carrie Underwood.
    I'm as traditional as anybody, love steel guitars and legends.
    But when Carrie performs on the 'Opry, the place is packed and a whole new generation is introduced to our type of country music.
    Keep on coming to the 'Opry, Carrie.
    And anonymous, I hope you get to live out your dream of seeing Carrie live at the 'Opry.

  15. When was the last time you felt this much energy at the Ryman?
    Bob Luman and Jimmie Riddle.

  16. Exactly the point. A lot of people at the time thought Luman was way out there. Now he seems tame, but certainly more energetic, as Nat reminds us, than anything we see these days.

  17. I try to be positive on this forum. I love the 'Opry, warts and all.
    But I am forced to say that last night's 'Opry show was perhaps the worst 'Opry show ever.
    GAC basically ruined the show.
    Bill Anderson had to stop the show, walk off stage in the middle of his set, then come back as though coming on for the first time.
    The band played two unenthusiastic songs, and videos and speeches were the order of the night. I'm afraid to count how few actual songs were sung.
    Darrius Rucker is a good man and a good addition to the 'Opry.
    What GAC did to the show was very sad.

  18. On the plus side, have to credit Pete Fisher on the number of appearances of the folks he has asked to be members.
    Good job, Pete!

  19. The GAC telecast was horrible last night. First, the quality of the picture was poor and the camera shots they were using were not the best.

    While I don't personally care for Darius Rucker or his style of country music, he is now a member of the Opry and I hope he will take his Opry commitments seriously. He says he will. We shall see.

    And it was another night with no legends on the telecast. I know Jimmy Dickens cancelled out, which I understand. And while Vince Gill has been an Opry member for over 20 years, and it was great to see him there, I would have like to have seen more of Bill Anderson or a Jeannie Seely doing the actual induction. Just my opinion.

  20. Byron, I'll go along with you, of course, but make a point about inductions. Sometimes over the years the Opry has asked the inductee who s/he wants to do it. I am pretty sure they asked Roy Clark because Mr. Acuff did it. When Charley Pride came in, he asked for Jimmy C. Newman--Mr. Acuff had died or he would, I am sure, have asked for him.

  21. Have to backtrack a little on the negative comments regarding last night's Opry.
    Bill Cody played an 'Opry moment this morning where Vince Gill welcomed Darius to the 'Opry. Didn't begin to make up for the GAC attempts to destroy the show, but certainly left the show with something good to remember.