Tuesday, December 31, 2013

January Opry Highlights

Happy New Year to Grand Ole Opry fans everywhere. Continuing with tradition, here is a review of the important and historical events that have taken place in Grand Ole Opry history, or regarding Grand Ole Opry members, during the month of January.

January 29, 1928: Little Jimmie Sizemore was born. Along with his father Asher, Jimmie was a member of the Opry from 1933 to 1943. You can still find their music on the internet and on YouTube you will find video of Jimmie performing. Last I heard, he is still alive at the age of 85.

January 16, 1943: Ernest Tubb makes his Grand Ole Opry debut. On this historic night, Ernest plays a guitar that belonged to his idol Jimmie Rodgers, which was given to him by his widow, Carrie Rodgers. Carrie had taken Ernest under her wing and gave him much support and help during the early part of his career. Ernest never forgot that support and after he started the Midnight Jamboree, he always insisted that the first song played was a Jimmie Rodgers recording. Ernest would remain one of the Opry's most loyal and important members and would remain an Opry member until his death in September 1984.

January 7, 1950: The legendary Hank Snow makes his first appearance on the Opry. It was also the night that he became an Opry member. That is the way things were done in those days. It was Ernest Tubb that convienced Opry management to give Hank an opportunity on the show. For his debut performance, Ernest let Hank use his band as Hank did not have one of his own and could not afford to hire anyone. That night, Ernest introduced Hank by saying, "From up Canada way, here's the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, the Singing Ranger, Hank Snow." Hank sang "Brand On My Heart" which had been a hit both in Canada and in the Dallas area of Texas. While his debut performance would not be considered a flop, he received very little audience reaction, probably because nobody really knew who he was. He was so upset by it that he considered not going back but his wife Min convinced him that he owed it to the Opry management and Ernest to return. Even though Hank would remain an Opry member for almost 50 years, he was almost fired. But then "I'm Moving On" was released and became one of the biggest hits in the history of country music and the rest is history.

January 7, 1950: On the same night that Hank Snow made his Opry debut, so did another future Country Music Hall of Fame member, Tennessee Ernie Ford. Unlike Hank, Tennessee Ernie was a star and was on the Prince Albert portion of the Opry hosted by Red Foley. While he forgot what he sang that night, Minnie Pearl thought it was "Anticipation Blues." While he never became an Opry member, Ernie Ford had an open invitation to appear on the Opry whenever he was in Nashville and many times he took the Opry up on the offer. In his later years, he would generally appear on the Martha White portion as he was friends with the management of that company.

January 1, 1953: Hank Williams was found dead in his car in West Virginia. He was being driven to a New Year's Day performance in Canton, Ohio. Also booked on the show that night was Jimmy Dickens, June Webb and a few others. Jimmy Dickens didn't make the trip due to bad weather but the other performers did do the show that night as a tribute to Hank. The auditorium where the show took place is a couple of miles from my house and is still in use. While Hank was not an Opry member at the time of his death, he is still considered one of the greatest Opry members in history.

January 19, 1953: Marty Robbins makes his Grand Ole Opry debut. Marty would join the show shortly after that and would become the Opry's most popular member among the fans.

January 22, 1953: The Ozark Jubilee makes its television debut on the ABC network. The show was hosted by former Opry member Red Foley, who my mutual agreement left the Opry to host this show.

January 29, 1954: Theron Hale passed away. He was one of the early members of the Opry, becomeing a regular on the show in 1926 and continuing with the Opry into the 1930's. Even after he left the Opry, he continued to perform on occasion with Sam McGee. While at the Opry, he was introduced as "Theron Hale and Daughters", which were Elizabeth and Mamie Ruth. The act broke up in the late 1930's when Mamie Ruth left the group.

January 22, 1955: Porter Wagoner made his Grand Ole Opry debut. He would later join the cast in February 1957 and remain an Opry member for just over 50 years.

January 12, 1957: Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper became members of the Grand Ole Opry. They came to the Opry from the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree and were noted for their gospel recordings. When they came to Nashville, their daughter Carol Lee Cooper was also part of the family act. Stoney died in 1977. After his death, Wilma Lee continued as an Opry member and help to keep the mountain music alive at the Opry. She suffered a stroke in 2001 that ended her performing career but in 2007 she was able to appear on the Opry's stage to be honored for 50 years of Opry membership. Wilma Lee passed away in 2011. Her last Opry appearance was in September 2010 at the reopening of the Opry House after the flood.

January 1, 1960: Although there is some debut as to the exact date, it would appear that this was the date that Billy Walker became a member of the Opry. Billy was a loyal and popular member of the Opry however later in his career, his appearances were reduced and he spoke out about the management of the Opry. Billy remained an Opry member until his death in 2006 after being involved in a car accident that also claimed his wife and several of his band members.

January 9, 1960: Patsy Cline joins the Grand Ole Opry. In a pretty famous story, Patsy, who had been appearing as a guest artist at the Opry for several years, approached Opry manager Ott Devine and asked if she might one day become an Opry member. Devine's response was, "Patsy, if that's all you want, you are on the Opry." As her career continued to grow, she would remain an Opry member until she passed away in a plane crash, along with Opry members Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas.

January 9, 1965: Norma Jean becomes a member of the Opry. Much as Dolly Parton would do a few years later, Norma Jean joined the show when she was performing as part of Porter Wagoner's road show. After leaving Porter's show in 1967, she left Nashville and gave up her Opry membership. She is still active today and performs in Branson. "Pretty Little Miss Norma Jean", as Porter would often introduce her, will be 76 this year.

January 7, 1967: Charley Pride became the first black solo singer to perform on the Opry. He was introduced by Ernest Tubb and sang, "The Snakes Crawl At Night" and "I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You." Shortly afterwards, he was asked to become an Opry member but he declined due to his heavy touring schedule. He would be asked several times again and in 1993 he finally accepted the invitation to join. He was the second black artist to join the cast, following in the footsteps of Deford Bailey.

January 4, 1969: Dolly Parton becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be her 45th year as an Opry member and based on the line-up announced for this weekend, she will not be there to be honored for this acheivement. Early on, she was on the show often, usually with Porter Wagoner. However, as she embarked on her solo career, her Opry appearances have reduced to virtually nothing. She even has commented that if she were in charge of the Opry, she would probably fire herself from the show. It was Carl and Pearl Butler, themselves former Opry members, sho were friends with Dolly and first brought her to Nashville at the age of 12. She remembered her first time singing on the Opry. "They used to have this Friday Night Frolics and I went up there one night with the intention of being on it. I kept telling everyone I'll sing just one song. Most of the Opry artists had two spots on the show and I walked up to Jimmy C Newman, who was going to sing his second song next and I told him I wanted to be on. I didn't know why he did it, but Jimmy gave me his spot and I sang a George Jones song." It would be nice since Dolly lives fairly close to the Opry House and is in town quite a bit, if she would head over once in a while and do the show.

January 1, 1971: Tom T Hall accepts an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry. Not that it matters since Tom T hasn't done the Opry in decades, but this will be his 43rd year as a member. Don't expect him anytime soon at the Opry as he has told people that he doesn't understand why they keep him as a member as he has no intentions on coming back. After he joined the Opry in 1971, he quit in March 1974 when the Opry left the Ryman Auditorium but he rejoined the show in 1980 at the urging of Ernest Tubb. Interesting that after he rejoined the show, he did make regular appearances at the Opry but in the early 1990's, his interest in the show was no longer there.

January 2, 1974: Opry member Tex Ritter passed away in Nashville after suffering a heart attack. Tex joined the Opry in 1965 and really enjoyed being an Opry member. He was just the 5th person to have been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

January 28, 1976: Skeeter Willis, part of the Willis Brothers, passed away at the age of 58. The Willis Brothers joined the Opry in 1946 and were famous for the western style of music that they played on the Opry.

January 27, 1979: Sissy Spacek, who played the part of Loretta Lynn in the movie "Coal Miner's Daughter" joined Loretta for an appearance at the Opry.

January 20, 1984: Mike Snider made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry. He was a member of the cast on Hee Haw and was known for his banjo skills and comedy. He would eventually join the cast of the Opry and continues as a member.

January 11, 1986: Mel McDaniel joined the Grand Ole Opry. He would be an Opry member until he passed away in 2011 after a long illness.

January 14, 1986: During the Grand Ole Opry's 60th televised 60th anniversary special, Reba McEntire was introduced as a member of the Opry. While this is the date that the special was on, it was actually filmed in the later part of 1985, which is when she was actually inducted as a member.

January 14, 1989: Hubert Gregory of the Fruit Jar Drinkers passed away. Hubert's career at the Opry, as with the Fruit Jar Drinkers, goes back to the early days of the Opry. Like many others of that era, Hubert played with several different groups including Sam and Kirk McGee.

January 10, 1991: Clint Black becomes a member of the Opry. This will be his 23rd year as an Opry member, which is about the number of Opry appearances that Clint has made since joining the cast. He continues to live in California and makes very few trips to Nashville.

January 25, 1992: Emmylou Harris becomes a member of the Opry. She was inducted by Roy Acuff during the televised portion of the Opry that night. This will be her 22nd year as a member. Knowing Emmylou's love for the history and tradition of country music, I thought when she joined the show that she would make frequent appearances. But as with several others, I have been proven wrong.

January 22, 1994: Hal Ketchum joined the Grand Ole Opry. After being gone from the Opry for several years due to some health issues, Hal returned to the Opry in November and he is scheduled again in January, when he will be honored for 20 years of Opry membership. Good to have Hal back at the Opry.

January 21, 1995: Brother Oswald, longtime member of Roy Acuff's group, became a member of the Grand Ole Opry at the age of 83. I would have to double check, but I am pretty sure he was the oldest person in the history of the Opry to become a members. Marty Stuart, among others, pushed hard for Oswald to become a member. He first came to the Opry with Roy in the 1930's and he helped to define the sound. He performed often with Charlie Collins. Brother Oswald passed away in October 2002. He was not an actual Opry member very long but he was with the show for over 60 years.

January 7, 1997: Gaylord Entertainment, in a move that seemed good at the time, acquired Word Records and Music, a contemporary Christian music company. A few years later, as Gaylord began selling off many of their properties, Word Music was one of the first to go.

January 3, 1998: Grandpa Jones makes his final Grand Ole Opry appearance. After hosting his segment on the 2nd show that evening, Grandpa suffered the first of what would become a series of strokes. He was taken directly from the Opry House to a Nashville hospital. His condition would continue to decline and he passed away on February 19, 1999.

January 24, 1998: Grand Ole Opry member Justin Tubb passed away. He was the son of the late Ernest Tubb. When Justin joined the Opry in 1955, he was the Opry's youngest member. Not only was Justin a fine singer, but he was also an excellent songwriter.

January 15, 1999: The Grand Ole Opry returned to the Ryman Auditorium for the first time since moving to the new Grand Ole Opry House in 1974. There were 3 shows that weekend, which included the Friday Night Opry and the 2 Grand Ole Opry shows on Saturday night. All 3 shows were sold out. During the 1st show on Saturday night, Ricky Skaggs invited Trisha Yearwood to become the Opry's newest member. Of course she said yes, and the official induction took place in March. On a personal note, I was at all 3 shows that weekend and all were fantastic.

January 15, 2000: Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley joined the Grand Ole Opry. He was asked to become a member the previous night, accepted and then they did the induction right away. This will be his 14th year as an Opry member.

January 4, 2003: Hank Williams Jr. and Hank Williams III performed together at the Opry in a show that marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Hank Williams. Also appearing in the tribute were Jimmy Dickens, along with Vince Gill and The Whites. Jimmy, of course, was a friend of Hank's and toured with him. While Hank Jr. has appeared at the Opry several times over the past few years, Hank III has not and I am pretty sure he will not be invited back any time soon.

January 1, 2007: Grand Ole Opry member Del Reeves passed away after an extended illness. He was 73 years old at the time of his death and had been an Opry member for 41 years. I was always impressed with his impressions, especially of Roy Acuff.

January 11, 2007: Stonewall Jackson filed an age discrimination lawsuit again Gaylord Entertainment and the management of the Opry. Stonewall made several claims, specifically naming Pete Fisher. As the lawsuit played out, Stonewall stayed away from the Opry even though he was invited to perform. Eventually the lawsuit was settled out of court with Stonewall claiming privately that the Opry made a settlement. Stonewall did see his appearances increase in the short term, but as he as battled through some health issues, he rarely plays the Opry.

January 19, 2008: Charlie Daniels becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 6th year as an Opry member. He said at the time of his induction that becoming an Opry member had been a dream for him and he was very happy to have been invited to join.

January 26, 2011: Grand Ole Opry member Charlie Louvin passed away after an extended illness. Charlie, along with his brother Ira, had joined the Opry in 1955. After Ira and Charlie broke up, Charlie continued as an Opry member, although toward the end of his life, not a happy one as he felt that Pete Fisher did not treat him with the respect that he deserved.

There you have it for this month. And once again, Happy New Year to all!!!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 12/27 & 12/28

It is hard to believe, but we have reached the end of 2013 and the final Grand Ole Opry shows of the year. The Opry will finish out the year with one show each night.

The Friday Night Opry will feature another appearance by The Willis Clan, who seem to be making the Opry their second home. Also guesting will be John Berry, TG Sheppard and Jimmy Wayne. Frequent Opry guest Mandy Barnett will be on, along with Dailey & Vincent, who will be appearing both nights.

Joining them on Saturday night will be a couple of more frequent Opry guests, Chris Janson and Kristen Kelly, along with Striking Matches. As far as actual Opry members this weekend, it will be the Opry's veteran members carrying the load both nights.

Friday December 27:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy Wayne; TG Sheppard
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; Dailey & Vincent
8:15: George Hamilton IV (host); John Berry; Mandy Barnett
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); The Willis Clan

Saturday December 28:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Chris Janson; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Kristen Kelly; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
8:15: Ray Pillow (host); Jan Howard; Striking Matches; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jenn Bostic; Dailey & Vincent

For this week's look back into Grand Ole Opry history, I go back 40 years ago this Saturday night, to December 29, 1973, which was Tex Ritter's final Grand Ole Opry appearance. Tex became an Opry member on June 12, 1965. When he joined the Opry, he was 60 years old and on the down side of his career. He was no longer in the movies, nor having hit records. In fact, on several tours he was Johnny Cash's opening act. Tex's signature song was "High Noon", from the 1952 Gary Cooper/Grace Kelly film. Another of his biggest hits was "I Dreamed of a Hillbilly Heaven", which was released in 1961.

When Tex moved to Nashville in 1965, not only did he join the Opry, but he co-hosted the late-night radio program on WSM with Ralph Emery. He was also involved with the Country Music Association, of which he was one of the founding members. In 1964, he was just the 5th person to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Tex died a week after his last Opry appearance on January 2, 1974. He suffered a heart attack while at the Nashville jail, where he was bailing out one of his band members prior to starting his next tour.

When Tex joined the Opry, there were some who questioned the move. After all, he was a singing cowboy star and not truly a country music singer. But you have to remember back then, it was not called "country" music, but 'country & western" music. There was no need to worry as Opry audiences loved Tex and he loved doing the Opry. He became one of the Opry's more loyal members.

Here is the Opry line-up from December 29, 1973, Tex Ritter's final Opry appearance.

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Bill Anderson (host): Don't She Look Good
Justin Tubb: Texas Dance Hall Girl
Mary Lou Turner: Poor Sweet Baby
Bill Anderson: The World of Make Believe

6:45: Rudy's
Bill Monroe (host): It's Mighty Dark For Me to Travel
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Little Darling Pal of Mine
Bill Monroe: The First Whippoorwill

7:00: Rudy's
Roy Acuff (host): Cotton Fields/Night Train to Memphis
Tex Ritter: Green Grow the Lilacs
Del Wood: There's A Big Wheel
Oswald: Columbus Stockade Blues
Tex Ritter: Americans
Del Wood: Keep on the Firing Line

7:30: Standard Candy
Ernest Tubb (host): A Million Miles from Here
Charlie Louvin: You're My Wife; She's My Woman
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Crook Brothers: Cotton-Eyed Joe
Ernest Tubb: Another Story, Another Time, Another Place
Charlie Louvin & Diane McCall: American Trilogy
Willis Brothers: Cool Water
Wayne Hammond: Release Me

8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt (host): Salty Dog Blues
Ernie Ashworth: My Love for You
Curly Seckler: Moonlight in My Cabin
Charlie Nixon: I'll Be All Smiles Tonight
Ernie Ashworth: Honky-Tonk Hardwood Floor
Lester Flatt & Marty Stuart: The Bluebirds Singing for Me
Kenny Ingram: Foggy Mountain Breakdown
Ernie Ashworth: Talking Back Trembling Lips
Marty Stuart: Roanoke

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Jim & Jesse: Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
4 Guys: Turn Your Radio On
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Jim & Jesse: A Bird With Broken Wings Can't Fly
Hank Snow: I've Cried A Mile
4 Guys: Catfish John
Kayton Roberts: Bells of St. Mary's
Hank Snow: Geisha Girl

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Bill Anderson (host): If You Can Live With It
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Jim & Jesse: Ashes of Love
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Thank God I Am Free
Bill Anderson: My Life(Throw It Away If I Want To)/Happy State of Mind/Gentle on My Mind
Mary Lou Turner: Slipping Away
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Nobody's Darling But Mine
Bill Anderson: A World of Make Believe

10:00: Fender
Tex Ritter (host): There's A New Moon Over My Shoulder
Del Wood: Power in the Blood
Tex Ritter: Jealous Heart

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Bill Monroe: Tallahassee
Bill Monroe & Jimmy Martin: Uncle Pen
Bill Monroe: Jerusalem Ridge

10:30: Trailblazer
Lester Flatt (host): Country Boy
Ernie Ashworth: Honky-Tonk Hardwood Floor
Marty Stuart: Rawhide
Lester Flatt: Is Anybody Going North to Cincinnati/Before I Met You

10:45: Beech-Nut
Ernest Tubb (host): Texas Troubadour
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Ernest Tubb: Dear Judge
Herman Crook: Unclouded Day

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Wreck of the Old 97/One More Ride
Charlie Louvin: Love Has to Die
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Charlie Louvin & Diane McCall: Baby, What's Wrong with Us
Sam McGee: San Antonio Rose
Hank Snow: Once More, You're Mine Again

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): I Couldn't Believe It Was True
4 Guys: Let Me Be There
Justin Tubb: Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
Ronnie Robbins: If We Make it Through December/Too Much Love Between Us
Marty Robbins: Don't Worry/Big Boss Man/Love Me/Letters Have No Arms/El Paso

On Friday January 4 and Saturday January 5, 1974, the Opry dedicated the shows to Tex Ritter. Here is the tribute that was read before the show on Saturday night and printed in the programs that were sold those nights:

"The Grand Ole Opry and country music fans around the world are saddened by the sudden death of Tex Ritter, America's most beloved cowboy. Across the nation devotees of country-western music-from U.S. Senators to the man on the street-expressed grief for one of our great cowboy heroes, the victim of a massive heart attack on Wednesday January 2.

Few names have sparked the imagination or permeated the entertainment industry as has that of Tex Ritter. His 40 year career spanned every major entertainment medium. Born in Murvaul, Panola County, Texas, Tex learned the rawhide arts of ranching, riding, and roping from practical experience. Influenced by his father's knowledge of the cowboy and the old time community singings, Tex Ritter was destined to sing the story of the American cowboy. In fact, Tex had become the embodiment of the American West. Few personalities in the history of the American stage attained the heights that Tex enjoyed.

Tex Ritter was a true legend in his own time. He was a big man with enormous love for his God, his country, his friends, and especially his lovely wife Dorothy Faye and sons, Thomas and Johnathan.

As we begin a new year saddened by the loss of such an extraordinary human being, let us reflect on the great things that Tex stood for, and the  exemplary life he led. And let us hope that now Tex Ritter has reached that 'Hillbilly Heaven' of which he sang about so often."

That will wrap up the final Opry show for this year. Next week I will be posting the January highlights and doing my annual "Year In Review" of the Opry, with the usual statistics and high or low points of the year.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas and Holiday Greetings

Each year around this time, I have taken a moment to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. I hope that it is a blessed day for all of you and that you have family and friends to share the day with. I also hope that Santa brings each of you everything you have asked for.

I also want to take a moment to offer my personal thanks to all of those who have read or commented on the blog. I wish I could give each of you a personal present, but I guess in a way doing this blog could be considered my gift to you. Many of you have offered comments, some have emailed and others communicate with me on Facebook. No matter how you do it, my thanks and appreciation. While we may disagree on a few things, I like to think that we are all friends who care about the Opry.

Each year around this time, I have also offered my own Christmas wishes to the Opry and it's members. This year I am going to keep it pretty simple. To those such as Jimmy Dickens, Jesse McReynolds, Ralph Stanley, Roy Clark, Randy Travis, Stonewall Jackson, Stu Phillips, Jean Shepard and Hal Ketchum, who have been battling some health issues, my wish is recovery and more Opry appearances. To the veterans and legends, my wish is more Opry appearances and that maybe when you do appear, you can sing two songs instead just one. My wish to Steve Buchanan and Pete Fisher is please don't mess with the show anymore. Most of us liked it the way it was.

For the newer members, please don't forget where the Opry House is. The Opry needs you and cannot survive without you. And for those members who haven't been to the Opry in a while, please come back. I guarantee that you are missed and you will have a good time. And to those members who did make a few more appearances this past year than in the past, thanks.

For Jim Ed Brown perhaps a call from the Hall of Fame informing you that you are the newest member. You and your sisters have waited long enough. For Rhonda Vincent, Dailey & Vincent, Crystal Gayle, Gene Watson, and even a few others, my wish is for Opry membership. For several, you appear more than most of the members. So, why not? And for all of those who make guest appearances, thanks. The show needs you.

For Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Larry Gatlin and Carrie Underwood, thanks for understanding what Opry membership is all about and thanks for supporting the show. Others talk about it, you do it.

For the Opry, I think we can all agree that the 88th birthday bash wasn't very good. Please make a comeback in 2014 for the 89th. And don't forget that 2014 will be the 50th Opry anniversaries for Jesse McReynolds and Bobby Osborne. Please treat them right.

For the fans, my thanks. I know some weeks it is tough being an Opry fan. Some of the shows just haven't been up to par this past year, but just when you think you are ready to give up on the Opry, they come up with something great.

Finally, I do want to offer my own thanks to a special few who have been along for the ride for a while now and have made a habit of commenting regularly on the blog. That group would include Lindy, Michael, Barry, Fred, Robert, David, Art, Jim H., Jim R., Brian, Jeanene, Johnny, Nat, Alan, Tom and Linda. Oh, and those who go by the name of "Anonymous", of which there might be a few of you. If I didn't mention your name, please don't take it as a slight, as there have been so many of you. But no matter who you are or what you have written, thanks!! And I don't want to forget those who I have met, thanks to the blog. It makes the trips to Nashville much more enjoyable. Same with the phone calls. They are always appreciated.

I do want to mention Glen Thompson, who is the President of the Grand Ole Opry Fan Club, and has been since it started. He loves the Opry and especially Roy Acuff. He is probably the Opry's #1 fan. Whenever I visit Nashville, one of the first stops at make is to visit Glen. We don't always agree but that's ok. We all love the Opry and like Glen, many of us miss the old days when the Opry was really something special. Thanks Glen for your friendship and everything you have done.

Now to finish up this Christmas message, I want to post a few Opry Christmas line-ups from the past. I have a number of Grand Ole Opry line-ups from December 25, when the Grand Ole Opry took place on Christmas night. The first one is from 1971:

7:00: Shoney's
Tex Ritter (host): Wayward Wind
Archie Campbell: Make Friends
Jimmy C Newman: Alligator Man
Ernie Ashworth: Wanted Man
Tex Ritter: Fall Away
4 Guys: Turn Your Radio On
Jimmy C Newman: Louisiana Dirty Rice
Ernie Ashworth: My Bottle Is Dry

7:30: Standard Candy
Wilburn Brothers (host): It Look's Like The Sun's Gonna Shine
Earl Scruggs Revue: Nashville Skyline Rag
Ray Pillow: Step Aside
Tom T Hall: Chattanooga Dog
Earl Scruggs Revue: Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot
Ray Pillow: Since Then
Tom T Hall: That's How I Got To Memphis

8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt (host): & Bill Monroe: Will You Be Loving Another Man/Little Cabin Home On The Hill
Grandpa Jones: Jingle Bells
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Lord, I'm Coming Home
Charlie Louvin & Diane McCall: I'm Gonna Leave You
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Stu Phillips: I'd Rather Be Sorry
Stringbean: Mountain Dew
Lester Flatt: Shuckin' The Corn

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Tex Ritter: Here Was A Man
Jean Shepard: Safe In These Loving Arms Of Mine
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Del Reeves: The Best Is Yet To Come
Lonzo & Oscar: Charming Betsy
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Del Wood: Are You From Dixie
Roy Acuff: I Saw The Light

9:00: Luzianne
Ernest Tubb (host): Thanks A Lot
Dottie West: Six Weeks Every Summer, Christmas Every Other Year
Earl Scruggs Revue: T For Texas
Wilburn Brothers: Christmas At The Opry
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
George Morgan: Easy Loving
Jack Greene: Statue Of A Fool
Jeannie Seely: All Right, I'll Sign The Papers
Ernest Tubb: Women Make A Fool Out Of Me

9:30: Kellogg's
Hank Snow (host): As Love Goes
Willis Brothers: Women's Liberation
Marion Worth: For The Good Times
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Jim Ed Brown: Morning
Tom T Hall: The Year That Clayton Delaney Died
Jimmy C Newman: A Fallen Star
Hank Snow: My Blue Eyed Jane

10:00: Fender
Bill Monroe (host): Were You There
Wilma Lee Cooper: I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes
Charlie Louvin: I Placed A Call/Will You Visit Me On Sundays
Stringbean: Herding Cattle
Ray Pillow: Heart Over Mind

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): When I Lay My Burden Down
Tex Ritter: Christmas Carols By The Old Corral
Jean Shepard: I Thought Of You/It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels/You Win Again/A Dear John Letter
Del Wood: Gloryland March

10:30: Trailblazer
Lester Flatt (host): Is Anybody Going North To Cincinnati
Grandpa Jones: The Valley Of The Never Do No Good
Stonewall Jackson: Life To Go
Lester Flatt: Sugar Tree Stomp

10:45: Beechnut
Ernest Tubb (host): Blue Christmas
Wilburn Brothers: The War Keeps Dragging On
Stu Phillips: Help Me Make It Through The Night
Crook Brothers: Mississippi Sawyer
4 Guys: Shenandoah

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): In The Misty Moonlight
Dottie West: Put Your Hand In The Hand
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Lonzo & Oscar: Easy Loving
Dottie West: Here Comes My Baby
Sam McGee: Buck Dancer's Choice
Hank Snow: Christmas Roses

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): Singing The Blues
Marion Worth: I Really Don't Want To Know
Charlie Walker: My Baby Used To Be That Way
Marty Robbins: I Walk Alone/Long Gone Lonesome Blues/I'm So Afraid Of Losing You Again/Today I Started Loving You Again/They'll Never Take Her Love From Me/Begging To You/Don't Worry/Big Boss Man/The Best Part Of Living/Walking The Floor Over You

As you would expect with that kind of Christmas line-up, the Opry did not end until past 12:30. Also, interesting to see Lester Flatt and Bill Monroe performing together. That would have been a treat to see. I did notice that Earl Scruggs was also on that night, but he apparently did not wish to join the other two.

The next line-up that I wanted to post from Christmas past is from 1976. It was on this night 37 years ago that Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers became members of the Opry. Here is that line-up:

1st show
6:00: Vietti
Bill Monroe (host): Love Come Home
Ray Pillow: Love Is Slowly Coming Over Me
Marion Worth: Just A Little Lovin'
David "Lonzo" Hooten: If We Make It Through December
Bill Monroe: Bluegrass Breakdown
Ernie Ashworth: Shamrock Hotel
Bill Monroe: Mule Skinner Blues/Ashland Breakdown

6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Forgive And Forget Us
Charlie Louvin: Let's Put Our World Back Together Again/A Toast To Mama/Love Has To Die All By Itself/I Ain't Gonna Work Tomorrow/I Want A Happy Life
Del Wood: There's A Big Wheel
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Philadelphia Lawyer

6:45: Rudy's
Ernest Tubb (host): Women Make A Fool Out Of Me
Skeeter Davis: Desperado
Billy Grammer: My Life's Been A Pleasure
Ernest Tubb: Another Story

7:00: Shoney's
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Minnie Pearl: I'm Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes
Jimmy C Newman: Blue Lonely Winter
Stu Phillips: Have A Nice Day

7:30: Standard Candy
Porter Wagoner (host): Wake Up Jacob
Dottie West: Country Sunshine
Justin Tubb: You Nearly Lose Your Mind
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Black Mountain Rag
Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers: Broken Lady/Statues Without Hearts
Porter Wagoner: Happy Birthday Jesus

8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt (host): Shuckin' The Corn
Jack Greene: You Don't Need A Cowboy
Jeannie Seely: Mama Never Told Me About Cowboys
Vic Willis: Christmas Carols By The Old Corral
Lester Flatt: Hot Corn, Cold Corn
Bob Luman: A Satisfied Mind
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Lester Flatt & Charlie Nixon: Dobro Instrumental

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Bill Carlisle: I've Waited Too Long
Jim & Jesse: Then I'll Stop Going For You
Fruit Jar Drinkers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Bill Cheatham
Hank Snow: Christmas Roses

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Ernest Tubb (host): I'll Get Along Somehow
Charlie Louvin: Sweet Texas
Skeeter Davis: The End Of The World
Wayne Hammond: Welcome To My World
David "Lonzo" Hooten: Daddy Looked A Lot Like Santa
Billy Grammer: I Dreamed Of An Old Love Affair
Ernest Tubb: Blue Christmas

10:00: Fender
Bill Monroe (host): A Beautiful Life
Ray Pillow: Gone At Last
Ernie Ashworth: My Love Will Never Change
Del Wood: My Country

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Old Time Sunshine Song
Marion Worth: Just A Little Lovin'
Charlie Walker: Who'll Buy The Wine
Onie Wheeler: Old Roy

10:30: Trailblazer
Lester Flatt (host): Why Do You Wander
Jack Greene: Birmingham
Jeannie Seely: American Trilogy
Jimmy C Newman: The Potato Song
Lester Flatt & Marty Stuart: Rawhide

10:45: Beechnut
Porter Wagoner (host): Highway Headed South
Justin Tubb: Sweetwater Texas
Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers: Statues Without Hearts/Allelujah
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Eighth Of January
Porter Wagoner: Birthday Jesus

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Lester The Long Eared Christmas Donkey
Bob Luman: Blue Christmas
Vic Willis: Cool Water
Fruit Jar Drinkers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Katy Hill
Kirk McGee: Always Be Kind To Daddy
Hank Snow: Silent Night

11:30: Baltz Bros.
Marty Robbins (host): Don't Worry
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Bill Carlisle: Have A Drink On Me
Marty Robbins: El Paso City/Love Me/Among My Souvenirs/Way Out There/El Paso

Another fine night at the Opry and congratulations to Larry Gatlin and his brothers for 37 years of Opry membership.

Now jumping up to Christmas night 1993, 20 years ago, and here is the line-up from that night:

1st show
6:30: Bill Monroe (host)
6:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); Bill Carlisle
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Charlie Walker; Wilma Lee Cooper; Oswald; Marty Stuart
7:30: 4 Guys (host); Jeanne Pruett; Charlie Louvin; Connie Smith; Osborne Brothers
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Billy Walker; Jeannie Seely; Opry Square Dance Band
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jean Shepard; Stonewall Jackson; Grandpa Jones

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jan Howard; Osborne Brothers; Jean Shepard
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); Wilma Lee Cooper
10:15: Grandpa Jones (host); Charlie Louvin;
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jim & Jesse
10:45: Billy Walker (host); Jeannie Seely; Opry Square Dance Band
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Connie Smith; Stonewall Jackson; Charlie Walker; 4 Guys
11:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Cumberland Boys; Jeanne Pruett; Johnny Russell

I hope you enjoyed those looks back.

I want to end my Christmas message with a funny little story. One day my wife, who says she isn't a country music fan but really is, asked me who Maxine Brown was. I kind of looked at her and asked her why. She said that she noticed on my Facebook page that Maxine had a message for me. In reading the message, Maxine wrote that a friend had sent her the posting that I did regarding their August visit to the Opry and Jim Ed Brown's 50th anniversary and she wanted to let me know how wonderful she thought it was and to thank me. She asked if she could post it on her website, which of course, I said yes. She also wanted to know if it was ok to share it with Bonnie and Jim Ed. To have someone like Maxine Brown following the blog and the fact that something I posted made her feel good and appreciated makes the blog worth while. And it's just not Maxine, but others that I have heard from in the Opry community. Sometimes I wonder if anyone is really reading what I write and to hear these compliments makes me feel that what we are doing here is worth while.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone and thank you again for your support.

aka: Fayfare

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 12/20 & 12/21

With only 2 more weekends left in 2013, the Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend. It will be pretty hard for the Opry to follow up on the shows last week as they were among the strongest of the year. But overall, and considering that it is the weekend before Christmas, the Opry has come up with a couple of pretty decent line-ups.

The Friday Night Opry will feature guest artists Love and Theft, Joey+Rory, David Nail, Radney Foster and Maggie Rose. All are no strangers to the Opry. Saturday night's Grand Ole Opry will feature a pair of artists from "Nashville", Jonathan Jackson and Charles Esten, along with Aaron Tippin and Restless Heart.

Friday December 20
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Maggie Rose; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; Love and Theft
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Joey+Rory; Radney Foster
8:45: John Conlee (host); David Nail; Del McCoury Band

Saturday December 21
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Corey Smith; Mike Snider
7:30: John Conlee (host); Jesse McReynolds; Aaron Tippin
8:15: Connie Smith (host); George Hamilton IV; Jonathan Jackson; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Charles Esten; Restless Heart

12 artists for each show of whom 7 are Opry members.

Looking back into Grand Ole Opry history and as we get close to the end of the year, it was 27 years ago this weekend, December 20, 1986 that Randy Travis became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

When Randy came onto the country music scene in the mid 1980's, he was heralded as a "New Traditionalist" who along with Ricky Skaggs, helped to return country music closer to its roots. This movement dominated country music for the next several years.

Of course, just about everyone knows the story on how Randy's former wife and manager Lib Hatcher discovered him as he was working as a dishwasher and short-order cook at the Nashville Palace, right across the street from the Opry House. Shortly after, he signed with Warner Bros. Records and released "On the Other Hand". The song went basically nowhere, but the follow-up release, "1982" was a hit and established Randy as a star. Opry legends such as George Jones and Loretta Lynn gave Randy their approval. In 1986, "On the Other Hand" was re-released and this time went to #1 on the charts and the hits followed. Probably his "career" song was "Forever and Ever, Amen". For his career, Randy has had close to 30 Top 10 hits, including 16 that went to #1. He has won numerous Grammys, ACM awards and five CMA awards. Oddly, he was never voted as the CMA's Entertainer of the Year.

The past several years have been difficult for Randy. There was a very public and nasty divorce and several embarrassing public incidents. His career seemed to stall. Then earlier this year, he suffered a stroke that was so severe that his life was in jeopardy for a period of time. While he is still trying to recover, the odds are that he will never be able to perform again. Really a tragic end to a great career.

Here is the Opry line-up from Saturday December 20, 1986, the night Randy Travis became the Opry's newest member:

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
Del Reeves (host): Two Dollars In The Jukebox/A Dime At A Time/Looking At The World Through A Windshield
Skeeter Davis: The Rose
Del Reeves: Anywhere USA

6:45: Rudy's
Porter Wagoner (host): Sugarfoot Rag
Riders In The Sky: Christmas At The Triple X Ranch
Porter Wagoner: Your Old Love Letters

7:00: Shoney's
Ricky Skaggs (host): Love's Gonna Get You Someday
Lorrie Morgan: One Love At A Time
Jim & Jesse: When I Dream About The Southland
Randy Travis: Diggin' Up Bones/White Christmas Makes Me Blue
Ricky Skaggs: Walking In Jerusalem Just Like John

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jean Shepard: Kentucky
Roy Drusky: Silent Night
Crook Brothers/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Chicken Reel
Carolee Singers: A Song The Holy Angels Cannot Sing
Dan Kelly: Sally Goodin'

8:00: Martha White
Bill Monroe (host): Can't You Hear Me Calling
The Whites: It Should've Been Easy
Stonewall Jackson: Why I'm Walkin'
Archie Campbell: Make Friends
Connie Smith: How Great Thou Art
Bill Monroe: Silent Night

8:30: Music Valley Merchants
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Boxcar Willie: Train Melody
Osborne Brothers: Making Plans
Mel McDaniel: Tennessee Saturday Night/Stand On It
Hank Snow: Christmas Roses

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol' Slewfoot
4 Guys: God Bless The USA
Del Reeves: The Race Is On
Jan Howard: Why Lady Why
Billy Walker: Coffee Brown Eyes
Porter Wagoner: I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name

10:00: Ricky Skaggs (host): Cajun Moon
The Whites: If It Ain't Love
Randy Travis: On The Other Hand
Ricky Skaggs: Country Boy

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting In The Air
George Hamilton IV: CHRISTMAS
Roy Acuff: That's The Man I'm Looking For

10:30: Pet Milk
Bill Monroe (host): Old Ebenezer Scrooge
Charlie Louvin: Sunshine On My Shoulders
Bill Monroe: You're Drifting Away/Christmas Time's A' Comin

10:45: Heil-Quaker
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Crook Brothers/ Melvin Sloan Dancers: Sally Goodin

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Tangled Mind
Jean Shepard: The Old Rugged Cross
Justin Tubb: Lonesome 7-7203
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Mel McDaniel: Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On/Stand On It
Hank Snow: Silent Night

11:30: Quincy's
Boxcar Willie (host): Train Melody
Osborne Brothers: Me & My Old Banjo/Kentucky
Connie Smith: The Deepening Snow
Boxcar Willie: Hank Williams Melody

I should also note that December 20 is also the anniversary of the death of the legendary Hank Snow. He passed away in 1999

Finally, here is another line-up, this one from Saturday December 21, 1974, 39 years ago and the 1st Christmas in the new Grand Ole Opry House.

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissom's
Bill Monroe (host): Get Up, John
Stoney & Carol Lee Cooper: Nobody's Darling But Mine
4 Guys: Shenandoah
Bill Monroe: A Good Woman's Love

6:45: Rudy's
Del Reeves (host): Girl On The Billboard
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Del Reeves: She Thinks I Still Care

7:99: Rudy's
Roy Drusky (host): Dixie Lily
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Jan Howard: Gentle On My Mind
Roy Drusky: One Day At A Time
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Late
Jan Howard: White Christmas
Opry Staff Band: Remington Ride
Roy Drusky: Fraulein

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jean Shepard: Poor Sweet Baby
Billy Grammer: Whispering Hope
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Liberty
Oswald: Columbus Stockade Blues
Jimmy C Newman: Potato Song
Jean Shepard: Slipping Away
Roy Acuff: I Saw The Light

8:00: Martha White
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
George Morgan: In The Misty Moonlight
Justin Tubb: Sunshine Lady
Del Wood: Keep On The Firing Line
Phil Campbell: Help Me Make It Through The Night
George Morgan: Release Me

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): Your Easy To Love
Jeanne Pruett: Welcome To The Sunshine
Stu Phillips: There Must Be Another Way To Say Goodbye
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Hank Snow: Dear Santa Claus

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Bill Monroe (host): Christmas Time's A Coming
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Jean Shepard: Many Happy Hangovers To You
Del Reeves: Help Me Make It Through The Night
Bill Monroe: I Am A Pilgrim
Stoney & Carol Lee Cooper: Big Midnight Special
Ernie Ashworth: Honky-Tonk Hardwood Floor

10:00: Fender
Roy Acuff (host): Old Time Sunshine Song
Jan Howard: You Win Again
Billy Grammer: Sentimental Journey
Roy Acuff: Cabin In Gloryland

10:15: Union 76
Roy Drusky (host): Don't It Make You Want To Go Home
Bill Carlisle: Leave That Liar Alone
Jimmy C Newman: Blue Lonely Winter
Roy Drusky: The Bitter They Are, The Harder They Fall

10:30: Trailblazer
Stonewall Jackson (host): Washed My Hands In The Muddy Water
4 Guys: Turn Your Radio On
Del Wood: There's A Big Wheel
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Late

10:45: Beechnut
George Morgan (host): You Turn Me On
Phil Campbell: A Thing Called Love
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: (?)
George Morgan: Silent Night

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Hello Love
Stu Phillips: She Thinks I Still Care
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Old Hen Cackle
Hank Snow: Silent Night
Sam McGee: Farewell Blues/Alabama Jubilee/Just Because
Hank Snow: A Letter To Santa Clause

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): Singing The Blues
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets/Welcome To The Sunshine
Justin Tubb: Rambling Man/Loving Arms
Ronnie Robbins: If You Love Me, Let Me Know
Marty Robbins: Love Me/I'm Wanting To/El Paso/Devil Woman

Enjoy the Opry this weekend !!!!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ray Price

By now, everyone has heard the news that the legendary Ray Price has passed away. In deciding what to write about Ray, and there will be numerous articles written that will cover his career and achievements, I have decided that I would do something a little different. As many of you know, Ray was a former member of the Grand Ole Opry. He came to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry 1951 and remained an Opry member until he was dismissed from the cast in December 1964 for failing to meet the required number of appearances. While never again becoming a member, Ray did maintain a close association with the show and would continue to make Opry appearances each year, right up until his final illness.

Instead of writing his biography, which can be read elsewhere, I am going to write what was written about Ray in the Grand Ole Opry History-Picture Book that was printed in 1957, which was about the mid-way point of Ray's Opry membership:

"Texas can add Ray Price to here host of native sons who have become country and western music stars, because the Leatherneck hero appears destined to be an all-time great. Born on a ranch near Perryville, Texas, 100 miles from Dallas, Price started in music early, picking up an older brother's guitar and singing a tune. he studied veterinary medicine at North Texas State Agricultural College for three and one-half years before enlisting in the U.S. Marines. He served overseas with the famed Second Division on Tarawa and other Pacific beachheads. On honorable discharge after five years of service he chose music as a career, organized a band and barnstormed all over Texas and Louisiana. In 1951 he joined the Grand Ole Opry and signed a recording contract with Columbia.

Part Cherokee Indian, Ray often wears a bright blue custom-tailored jacket. Its multi-hued Indian headdress on the back is a familiar sight to country music fans throughout the United States. He has been pictured and profiled in Life Magazine and other national periodicals. His 'Crazy Arms' record for Columbia won the triple-crown by leading all country music trade magazine charts, and earned him a 'Golden Guitar.' He also scored with 'I've Got a New Heartache' and 'Wasted Words.' Previously he rated high with 'You Done Me Wrong,' 'Run Boy,' 'Talk to Your Heart' and 'Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes' which he sang with Rosemary Clooney. In 1959 Ray Price captured top Dee Jay honors when he was selected Country Music's Favorite Male Artist, and his recording of 'Heart Aches By The Number' was named the favorite Country and Western single.

Price is an outdoorsman, a big game hunter of marksman caliber, and an expert fly-caster, who traveled with sport shows before his music career began. He collects guns and his trophy room includes several priceless antique weapons. Price's backyard is populated by three champion bird dogs."

We can all remember that in the later part of the 1960's, Ray moved to a more pop-oriented sound, not only changing his music, but his look. He was no longer the "Cherokee Cowboy" and the traditionalists wanted to kick him out of country music. They said he "sold-out". But for Ray, the move proved to be successful as "For the Good Times" became one of the biggest hits in the history of country music.

Ray was not one to keep his opinions to himself. When he was finally elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, his first words upon receiving the award were, "It's About Time." And many agreed with him, including Willie Nelson, who always considered Ray one of the greatest. Even well into his 80's, Ray kept up a heavy touring and recording schedule. Some will say that his later albums contained some of his best music. And even in declining heath, he was rushing to get another album out before he died.

After all the years, Ray still called Texas home and it was at his ranch that he passed away with his family at his side. Ray will be missed but we will always have his memory and that great music to look back upon.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 12/13 & 12/14

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 3 shows this weekend, and in my opinion, all are pretty strong shows as the Opry continues toward the end of the year. There is a mixture of young and old, traditional country and modern, bluegrass and rock. Yes, I said rock as one of the great musical legends from the 1970's and 1980's, Peter Frampton will be at the Opry this weekend. Apparently, Ricky Skaggs was somehow involved in getting him invited to the Opry and we all know that Pete Fisher does like to expand what is being offered on the Opry's stage. While this may seem like an idea out of nowhere, Peter actually lives in Nashville and has been involved with the Nashville music community for a number of years. He even has a "star" on Nashville's Walk of Fame. And with so many others, I would expect that he will be well received at the Opry.

Joining Peter on Saturday night will be Opry member Emmylou Harris, who will be making one of her rare Opry appearances. It is no surprise that Emmylou picks the Ryman for the majority of her appearances as she feels much more comfortable in that building then the Opry House. She will be joined by Rodney Crowell, and no doubt featuring songs from their new album. Also appearing on Saturday night, and this week's star from "Nashville" will be Clare Bowen. She has played the Opry previously, although not as often as some of her co-stars.

The Friday Night Opry will feature another Opry appearance by Carrie Underwood, fresh off her fantastic performance in "Sound of Music." Again, as I have said before, Carrie sets a great example to many of the younger Opry members by actually appearing and supporting the show. If she can find the time to do the Opry, I would think that many of the others could also. She will be joined by The Willis Clan, who lately has been making the Opry their second home. Opry member Joe Diffie will also be appearing, as will frequent Opry guest Mark Wills. And let's not forget Ricky Skaggs and Vince Gill, who will be appearing both nights.

Friday December 13
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); The Henningsens; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Mark Wills; Kree Harrison & Janelle Arthur
8:15: John Conlee (host); Joe Diffie
8:45: Vince Gill (host); The Willis Clan; Carrie Underwood

Saturday December 14
1st show
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Mark Wills; Jimmy C Newman; Jesse McReynolds
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Connie Smith; Mindy Smith
8:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jean Shepard; Peter Frampton; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Emmylou Harris (host); Rodney Crowell; Clare Bowen

2nd show
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Mark Wills; Clare Bowen
10:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Connie Smith; Mindy Smith
10:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jean Shepard; Peter Frampton; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Emmylou Harris (host); Rodney Crowell; Vince Gill

That comes out to 7 Opry members on Friday night, with 8 members on the 1st Saturday show and 7 on the 2nd.

Now for this week's look back into Grand Ole Opry history. It was on Friday December 15, 1978 that Opry member Bob Luman made his final Opry appearance. When Bob joined the Opry in June 1965, he brought a "rockabilly" sound to the show of which not everyone thought was a good idea. Roy Acuff, among others, was very vocal about it. But the Opry fans loved Bob and always gave him a good ovation.

Bob was born on April 15, 1937 in Texas, which is where he grew up. After attending an Elvis Presley concert in 1955, he decided that was the music he wanted to play. He won a Future Farmers of America Talent contest that led to an invitation to perform on the Louisiana Hayride, to replace Johnny Cash, who had left the show. He was signed by Imperial Records in 1957 with his band at the time consisting of James Burton, James Kirkland and Bruce White, all classic musicians. He moved on to California and became a regular on Town Hall Party. It was there that Ricky Nelson heard Bob's band and hired them away from Bob.

Bob moved to Capital Records and then on to Warner Brothers. The Everly Brothers suggested a song for Bob, "Let's Think About Living", which became his top career single, charting at #7 on the pop charts and #9 on the country charts. However, right after recording the song he entered the Army and was unable to follow up on the success of the record.

In 1964 he moved to Nashville and shortly after, joined the Grand Ole Opry in what became a long-lasting but not always comfortable association with the program. Roy Acuff once remarked, "That boy can't decide if he's colored or white." (That was one of the nicer things Roy said).

Between 1964 and his death in 1978, he placed 38 singles on the country charts, most for Hickory, Epic and Polydor Records, but only 4 made the Top 10, the highest being "Lonely Women Make Good Lovers." Sadly, Bob passed away in 1978 at the age of 41, much too young.

While I do not have the Opry line-up from Bob's final show on Friday December 15, I do have the Opry line-up from Bob Luman's final Saturday night Grand Ole Opry appearance, which was on December 2, 1978, several weeks prior. Here is that line-up:

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Charlie Walker (host): Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
David Houston: Best Friends Make The Worst Enemies
Charlie Walker: Lucille

6:45: Rudy's
Bill Monroe (host): A Used-To-Be
Stu Phillips: There Must Be Another Way To Say Goodbye
Vic Willis & Curtis Young: Cimarron
Bill Monroe: The Old Cross Road Is Waiting

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol' Slewfoot
Wilma Lee Cooper: Big Midnight Special
Billy Grammer: Gotta Travel On
Wilburn Brothers: Mama's Shoe Box
Charlie Louvin: Hey Daddy
Tonya: You Make Everyday Feel Like Sunday/Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms
Porter Wagoner: I'm Gonna Feed You Now

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball/Tennessee Central #9/Sunshine Special
Jan Howard: I'll Remember The Good
Roy Drusky: Second Hand Rose
Del Wood: Piano Roll Blues
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Gray Eagle
Herman Crook: Amazing Grace
Roy Acuff: Cabin In Gloryland

8:00: Martha White
Grandpa Jones (host): Are You From Dixie
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong With The Way That We're Doing It Now
Bob Luman: Let Me Make The Bright Lights Shine For You/The Pay Phone Call
Jim & Jesse: Ashes Of Love
Bill Carlisle: Business Man
Grandpa & Ramona Jones: Mount Laurel

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I've Been Everywhere
4 Guys: Turn Your Radio On
Ray Pillow: Texas
Stonewall Jackson: My Favorite Sin
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin' Hen
Hank Snow: Ramblin' Rose

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Bill Monroe (host): My Sweet Blue Eyed Darling
Charlie Walker: T For Texas
David Houston: Best Friends Make The Worst Enemies
Wilma Lee Cooper: Poor Ellen Smith
Vic Willis & Curtis Young: Shenandoah
Stu Phillips: Come Sundown
Bill Monroe: Cryin' Holy Unto The Lord

10:00: Fender
Porter Wagoner (host): Tennessee Saturday Night
Wilburn Brothers: What A Way To Go
Charlie Louvin: When I Was Your Man
Porter Wagoner: Ol' Slewfoot

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Ball Knob, Arkansas
Billy Grammer: Faded Love
Jan Howard: It's A Heartache
Oswald: Mountain Dew
Roy Acuff: Jesus Will Outshine Them All

10:30: Trailblazer
Grandpa Jones (host): Old Dan Tucker
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong With The Way That We're Doing It Now
Grandpa Jones: Falling Leaves

10:45: Beech-Nut
Bob Luman (host): Good Hearted Woman
Del Wood: Keep On The Firing Line
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: (?)
Bob Luman: A Satisfied Mind

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host); Rhumba Boogie
Ray Pillow: Dreams Of A Dreamer/Another Day, Another Dollar
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Jim & Jesse: The Voice Of My Darling
Kirk McGee: Chittlin Cooking Time in Cheatham County
Hank Snow: Hobo Bill's Last Ride

11:30: Acme
4 Guys (host): Let Your Love Flow/Catfish John
Bill Carlisle: Little Liza Jane/I Was On My Way To The Show
Stonewall Jackson: My Favorite Sin/Waterloo

On a final note, Garth Brooks announced this week that he is going on a 3 year world tour starting in 2014. Do you think anywhere in that tour he will find time to stop at the Opry? Actually if I was a betting man, I would say yes and my best guess would be October 2015. Why you ask? Because that is Garth's 25th year as an Opry member and the Opry's 90th birthday. I would think the odds are in favor of us seeing Garth then.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 12/6 & 12/7

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the shows this weekend and as the Opry continues its Ryman Auditorium run, it is back to 2 shows on Saturday night in addition to the Friday Night Opry. And both nights are looking pretty decent with some interesting acts scheduled.

The Friday Night Opry will feature guest artists Little Big Town. They have played the Opry before and each time they have received a huge ovation. Joining them will be Charlie Worsham and frequent Opry guest Chris Janson. As far as Opry members, you have Larry Gatlin, who is bring his brothers Steve and Rudy with him, along with Vince Gill and Del McCoury, both of whom will also be appearing for both shows on Saturday night.

As far as Saturday's Grand Ole Opry, in addition to Vince and Del, Connie Smith and Jean Shepard are scheduled to host segments on both shows. Kathy Mattea will be guesting, and what is an Opry show without someone from the "Nashville" show, and this week we have Lennon & Maisy, along with Chris Carmack. Finally, Stu Phillips is scheduled for the 2nd show. He cancelled out on his last scheduled appearance and I do hope that he is well enough to make it this week.

Friday December 6:
7:00: John Conlee (host); Chris Janson; Connie Smith
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Del McCoury Band
8:15: Vince Gill (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Charlie Worsham
8:45: Larry Gatlin (host) & The Gatlin Brothers; Little Big Town

Saturday December 7:
1st show
7:00: Connie Smith (host); Greg Bates; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Sunny Sweeney; Chris Carmack
8:00: Jean Shepard (host); Jan Howard; Kathy Mattea; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Vince Gill (host); Del McCoury Band; Lennon & Maisy

2nd show
9:30: Connie Smith (host); Greg Bates; Del McCoury Band
10:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jimmy C Newman; Lennon & Maisy
10:30: Jean Shepard (host); Stu Phillips; Sunny Sweeney; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Vince Gill (host); Chris Carmack; Kathy Mattea

Nice to see that even though the hosts are the same for each segment, there is variety between both shows. Only difference in artists is Jan Howard on the 1st show and Stu Phillips on the 2nd. And that comes out to 7 Opry members on each show. The weather is forecast to be bad in Nashville this weekend, so let's hope everyone makes it.

The Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree this Saturday night/Sunday morning will be an interesting show. It is being called the "Sons & Daughters of the Legends" and will feature Robyn Young, Melissa Luman, Seidina Reed, Thom Bresh and George Hamilton V. All of these folks are very talented and it should be a great show.

For this week's look back into Grand Ole Opry history, I go to Saturday December 8, 1973. It was on this night that Skeeter Davis made some political and religious remarks on the Opry that resulted in her being terminated from the show effective the following Saturday December 15. Of course, there is a story behind it.

According to what Skeeter wrote in her autobiography "Bus Fare To Kentucky", she had called Annie Cooper, the secretary to Bud Wendell, the Opry manager, and asked to be scheduled for an early spot and a late spot so that she could catch up on Christmas shopping between shows. Based on that request she was scheduled for the 7:00 and 10:15 segments. After her first performance she drove out to One Hundred Oaks Shopping Mall and came upon a group of people associated with the "Christ Is the Answer" crusade who were out spreading the word that Jesus loved everyone. Skeeter went on with her shopping and when leaving the mall, she witnessed officers from the police department with their paddy wagon parked outside. Inside the wagon were members of the group.

Skeeter wrote that she asked what was going on and an officer said that these people were being arrested. She said that the mall manager admitted that he called the police because they were scaring shoppers and he didn't want them there. People thought they were "Jesus freaks." When Skeeter returned to the Opry, she was in a state of great agitation. Now in Skeeter's own words: "My band had assumed that I sing 'The End of the World,' or my new hit, or one of the many others. My daddy always said that the Opry audiences travel hundreds of miles to hear those hits. But on this evening I didn't think I could do my new record. Our spot was about to be called, when I told the band that I wasn't going to sing any of my hits. I went on stage that night leaving my band without a clue as to what I would sing."

"After my introduction, I began, 'Something wonderful has happened in Nashville. A bunch of Jesus people came and they're holding rallies here in Nashville at a big tent at Second and Lindley. Tonight some of them were out witnessing at the mall and they were arrested.'" She made a few more remarks and then decided to sing "Amazing Grace". After singing the song, she received a big ovation. Announcer Grant Turner said, "I know Skeeter appreciates that, but she's not coming back. Perhaps she'll take a bow."

When she came off stage, she was met by the Opry's security people who confronted her on what she had said. The next day, Sunday, the story was in the Nashville papers and remained a story for the next week. Skeeter said that when she called the Opry the following week, she was told she wasn't scheduled. This went on for several weeks until she asked Bud Wendell if she was fired. He said no, they would just call it a suspension. She was urged by friends and attorneys to sue the Opry for violating her right of free speech but refused, saying the situation would be settled in time.

In April 1975, Hal Durham, who had replaced Bud Wendell as the Opry's manager asked her back. What helped Skeeter was that a number of Opry members including Jean Shepard, Kirk McGee, George Hamilton IV and Teddy Wilburn, among others, spoke up for her and urged the Opry to bring her back.

Here is the line-up from Saturday December 8, 1973, the night Skeeter Davis got political at the Opry.

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Osborne Brothers (host): Midnight Flyer
Ernie Ashworth: My Love For You
Bill Carlisle: Leave That Liar Alone
Osborne Brothers: Fastest Grass Alive

6:45: Rudy's
Del Reeves (host): Six Days On The Road/Truck Driving Man
4 Guys: Top Of The World
Del Reeves: Lay A Little Lovin' On Me

7:00: Rudy's
Bill Monroe (host): Uncle Pen
Skeeter Davis: I Can't Believe That It's All Over
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells
Jimmy C Newman: The Potato Song
Bill Monroe: Christmas Time's A' Coming
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Skeeter Davis: I'll Fly Away
Jim Ed Brown: Sometimes Sunshine
Bill Monroe: Bluegrass Breakdown

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jean Shepard: Slipping Away
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: White Dove
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Oswald: John Hardy
Crook Brothers: Ida Red
Jean Shepard: Second Fiddle
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: I Shall Not Be Moved

8:00: Martha White
Tex Ritter (host): Wayward Wind
Grandpa Jones: Are You From Dixie
Jeanne Pruett: Hold To My Unchanging Love
Charlie Louvin: You're My Wife; She's My Woman
Johnny Bond & Tex Ritter: Get Off Of My Horse
Mark & Ramona Jones: Old Joe Clark
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Charlie Louvin & Diane McCall: Did You Ever

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Jim & Jesse: Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
Marion Worth: Delta Dawn
Charlie McCoy: Release Me/Orange Blossom Special
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Sally Goodin
Jim & Jesse: Please Be My Love
Hank Snow: Send Me The Pillow You Dream On

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Del Reeves (host): Wild Blood
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya
Bill Carlisle: Worried Man Blues
Del Reeves: Lay A Little Loving On Me
Jimmy C Newman: Potato Song
Del Reeves: I'm Walking/Blueberry Hill/Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On

10:00: Fender
Osborne Brothers (host): Rocky Top
4 Guys: Let Me Be There
Osborne Brothers: Fastest Grass Alive

10:15: Union 76
Bill Monroe (host): Goodbye, Old Pal
Skeeter Davis: Amazing Grace
Jim Ed Brown: Sometimes Sunshine
Bill Monroe: I'm Sitting On Top Of The World

10:30: Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): Just A Friend
Grandpa Jones: Oh, Suzannah
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: A Mansion In The Sky

10:45: Beech-Nut
Tex Ritter (host): Just Beyond The Moon
Charlie Louvin: Little Reasons/Will You Visit Me On Sundays/What Are Those Things
Jim & Jesse: Diesel On My Tail
Crook Brothers: Eighth Of January
Stuart Hamblen: It Is No Secret/This Old House

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): In The Misty Moonlight
Jeanne Pruett: Hold To My Unchanging Love
Charlie McCoy: Orange Blossom Special
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Sam McGee: Kentucky Turkey Buzzard
Hank Snow: There's A Fool Such As I

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): Devil Woman
Marion Worth: Shake Me, I Rattle
Ronnie Robbins: Too Much Love Between Us/Mama Tried
Marty Robbins: Don't Worry/Love Me/Letters Have No Arms/They'll Never Take Her Love From Me/Big Boss Man/El Paso/Singing The Blues

What is interesting is that politics have always been a part of the Opry. Roy Acuff ran for Governor of Tennessee in 1948 and used the Opry as his campaign platform. George Wallace was at the Opry several times and was publically endorsed from the Opry's stage by a number of artists. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush have all visited and made remarks, along with a number of Senators and Congressman. And of course, Senator Robert Byrd performed on the Opry's stage. I am not taking any position in this debate, but in looking at Skeeter's comments, you have to consider the times, and the fact that it was Skeeter making those comments. I am not sure what would happen in today's environment at the Opry if those types of remarks were made today, but I have a feeling that the folks at Ryman Hospitalities would probably react in somewhat the same manner.

Enjoy The Opry This Weekend!!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tuesday Opry 12/3

The Grand Ole Opry has scheduled 2 shows at the Ryman Auditorium on Tuesday December 3. The highlight will be Opry members Rascal Flatts performing on both shows.

1st show
3:30: Connie Smith; Striking Matches
4:00: Sarah Darling; Diamond Rio
4:45: The Whites; Kristen Kelly
5:15: Rascal Flatts

2nd show
7:00: Connie Smith; Striking Matches
7:30: Sarah Darling; Diamond Rio
8:15: The Whites; Kristen Kelly
8:45: Rascal Flatts

Nice to see that 4 out of the 7 acts are Opry members.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

December Opry Highlights

As the Grand Ole Opry prepares to close out another year, here are the important dates and events that have taken place in the history of the Opry, or regarding the Opry's members during the month of December:

December 2, 1898: Herman Crook was born. When he passed away in 1988, he was the last remaining charter member of the Grand Ole Opry. In fact, he performed at the Opry the weekend before he died. Roy Acuff said. "He loved country music, but he wanted it country. He didn't go for any of this rock' n' roll type stuff." He added that Herman's favorite number was "Amazing Grace." Herman first performed on the WSM Barn Dance on July 24, 1926 and when he passed away the Crook Brothers was the only act left that represented the original tradition of the Opry. The band played for the cloggers and square dancers, who performed the traditional mountain dancing.

December 14, 1899: DeFord Bailey was born. When George D. Hay changed the name of the WSM Barn Dance to the Grand Ole Opry, DeFord played the first song on the show. He first appeared on WSM on June 19, 1926. He was fired from the Opry in 1941 in a move that left him very bitter. Despite repeated attempts by Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Bill Monroe and others, DeFord stayed away from the Opry until he finally returned on  February 23, 1974 for the Opry's 1st Old-Timer's night. DeFord passed away in 1982. In 2005, he was elected to the Hall of Fame.

December 11, 1914: Former Opry member James Clell "Tex" Summey was born. You may not recognize him by that name as his on-stage name was Cousin Jody. He came to the Opry in 1937 with Roy Acuff and later worked with Pee Wee King. Some of his finest work was with Lonzo & Oscar, after which he performed as a solo act. He was a member of the Opry until health issues forced him to retire. He passed away in 1975. Of historical note, he was the first person to play the dobro and the steel guitar at the Opry.

December 19, 1920: The Grand Ole Opry's oldest member, Jimmy Dickens, was born on this date in Bolt, West Virginia. Jimmy will be 93 this year. He first joined the Opry in 1948 and last appeared on the Opry during the Opry's 88th birthday weekend. He has had some health issues this past year and here is wishing him the best.

December 26, 1925: The WSM Barn Dance was formally listed on the WSM program schedule that was printed in the Nashville Tennessean. From the Tennessean, "Because of this recent revival in the popularity of the old familiar tunes, WSM has arranged to have an hour or two every Saturday night, starting Saturday December 26. Uncle Dave Macon, the oldest banjo picker in Dixie, and who comes from Readyville, Tennessee, and Uncle Jimmy Thompson of Martha, Tennessee, will answer any requests for old-time melodies."

December 10, 1927: While there seems confusion to the exact date, it would appear that it was on this date that the WSM Barn Dance became the Grand Ole Opry. The Barn Dance came on the air at 8:00. From 7-8, WSM broadcast a classical music show, via the NBC radio network called, "Music Appreciation Hour," which was under the direction of Dr. Walter Damrosch. At the conclusion of the Music Hour on this particular night, George D. Hay announced, "For the past hour we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera, from now on we will present The Grand Ole Opry." While this is the story that George D. Hay told many times, there seems to be no independent verification of this story. For example, the "Music Appreciation Hour" that he refers to did not premiere on until the fall of 1928. This explains why some historians think that the actual date for the name change was December 8, 1928. However, "Grand Opera" was on the air on WSM at the time, just on another night. To further verify the December 10th date, it was on December 11, 1927 that "Grand Ole Opry" was used for the first time in print in the Nashville Tennessean. Either way, for about a 6 month period, the show was alternately called both the WSM Barn Dance and The Grand Ole Opry, until finally the Opry name stuck.

December 13, 1930: Opry member Buck White was born. Along with his daughters Sharon and Cheryl, they have been members of the Opry since 1984.

December 7, 1931: Grand Ole Opry member Bobby Osborne was born in Leslie County, Kentucky. Along with his brother Sonny, he came to the Opry in August 1964. "Rocky Top" was made famous by the Osborne Brothers and is one of the most famous songs in the history of country music.

December 30, 1944: Bob Wills makes an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. He was brought in to appear on the Prince Albert portion of the show that was broadcast on NBC radio. Minnie Pearl remembers that night, not only because a lady fell out of the balcony and onto the stage, but for other reasons. As Minnie later said, "That was the first time we ever put electrified fiddles on the Opry. Roy Acuff said it would ruin the Opry forever! I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard something like that." But those electric fiddles were not the first electric instruments to have been on the Opry stage. Pee Wee King and his Golden West Cowboys and Ernest Tubb had been using electric instruments before Bob Wills made his appearance. Another story regarding that night was that Bob Wills bought drums with him and he had to hide them behind a curtain. That story is interesting but there is no real documentation that it happened. Regarding drums at the Opry, Harold "Sticks" McDonald, who was part of the Golden West Cowboys, had brought drums to the Opry in the 1940s. They used the drums for a couple of weeks but were not allowed to announce on the radio that they were using them. After that time, George D. Hay told Pee Wee to take the drums back home and to leave them there. In a final comment regarding drums at the Opry, Bud Wendall was quoted in 1985 as saying, "That story about hiding drums behind a curtain is just one of those tales around here. As long as we remained at the Ryman, though, we never used anything other than just a standing snare drum. But that had as much to do with space restrictions as with the purity of country music. You just couldn't fit a whole set of drums on the stage at the Ryman. It just wasn't that big."

December 8, 1945: Earl Scruggs made his debut on the Opry as part of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. He was the final member to join what is considered the greatest of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys line-ups. That line-up, which included Lester Flatt, Chubby Wise and Howard Watts, is considered the first real bluegrass group and defined Bill Monroe's sound. As great as this band was, it would not stay together for long, with Earl leaving in the spring of 1948. Among those who were watching that night at the Opry was Uncle Dave Macon, who billed himself as "The World's Greatest Banjo Player." Some of the Opry members watching were making a few comments about Earl's playing within earshot of Uncle Dave. Dave stood in the wings watching Earl for a few moments, then he turned and stalked away grumbling, "He ain't one damned bit funny." Earl would eventually become an Opry member himself.

December 24, 1960: The final Prince Albert Grand Ole Opry show is broadcast on the NBC radio network. Television and the decline of radio led to the death of the show.

December 3, 1961: "Doctor Lew" Childre passed away. Lew was born in 1901, he was a member of the Opry starting in 1945 and continued as a member through most of the 1950s. He often worked with Stringbean.

December 6, 1964: The Grand Ole Opry fired 12 of its members for not making the required number of appearances on the Opry. From the Nashville Tennessean, "Twelve top country and western stars will not appear on the Grand Ole Opry in 1965, and have been prohibited from using the Opry name in their outside billings, it was learned yesterday. Another entertainer, long-time favorite Minnie Pearl, has been given a leave of absence from the show for the coming year, but will continue to use the Opry billing in her present contracts", a WSM spokeman said. Those who were dismissed from the Opry were George Morgan, Don Gibson, Billy Grammer, Johnny Wright, Kitty Wells, the Jordanaires, Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, Chet Atkins, Justin Tubb, Stonewall Jackson and Ray Price. At the time, Opry members had to appear on 26 shows each year. It was later found out that Chet Atkins was not an actual Opry member, which led to some comments concerning if Opry management really knew what was going on at the show. Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright would later say that they quit and were not fired. Faron Young would say that it was a money issue. Many of those who were fired would later return to the show including George Morgan, Don Gibson, Billy Grammer, Justin Tubb and Stonewall Jackson, along with Minnie Pearl. Years later, Kitty Wells asked to come back as an Opry member and was turned down. Most of those who did not rejoin would later come back and make guest appearances on the show. On Tuesday December 8, the Nashville Tennessean, in an editorial, put it this way, "The Opry has been, and continues to be, the nucleus of Nashville's $40 million music industry. There is hardly a successful music enterprise in the city that does not owe its orgin and its longevity to the Opry. Thus, it seems that the Opry management has a responsibility to compel observance of reasonable restrictions for its own protection and for the protection of the rest of the music industry in Nashville. Most of the thousands of people who line up at the Opry House every Friday and Saturday might have traveled long distances to see in person the stars that they come to love by radio. It must be a disappointment for these fans to arrive at the Opry on this one big night for them and find that their favorite stars have found a more profitable audience in some other state." The Tennessean put it better than I could and they were right on with their comments. Of course times have changed and the Opry does not have the importance and influence in Nashville that it once had. But could you imagine what the reaction would be today if the Opry fired a dozen or so acts for not appearing on the show. And I think most of us could come up with a list of 12 pretty quickly.

December 23, 1967: Jack Greene becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Jack remained an Opry member until his death earlier this year. Jack was a member of Ernest Tubb's band and left after his solo career took off. He always said that he owed his success to Ernest.

December 14, 1973: Lorrie Morgan, age 14, made her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Lorrie was brought out by her father, George Morgan, and did, "Paper Roses." Lorrie would later join the Opry and continues as an Opry membe today.

December 15, 1973: Skeeter Davis was suspended by the Grand Ole Opry for comments that she had made the previous Saturday night while performing on the show. As Skeeter said, "Hank Williams got kicked off the Opry for drinkin' too much old wine. Me? I got kicked off for singing about the new wine." What actually happened was that Skeeter was on her way to the Ryman for an Opry performance when she witnessed the arrest of what were known as "Jesus Freaks", which was another name for the young people who were protesting not only in Nashville, but around the country. The arrests enraged Skeeter and on the Opry she expressed her rage by talking about it, singing about it, and weeping about it. When she came off the stage, she faced an angry Opry manager. She was stunned when told she was no longer considered an Opry member. 18 months later, she was invited back.

December 29, 1973: Tex Ritter made his final Grand Ole Opry appearance. This member of the Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame would pass away a week later, on January 2, 1974. While only an Opry member since 1965, he was popular and very loyal to the Opry.

December 25, 1976: Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Steve and Rudy, joined the Grand Ole Opry. This will be their 37th year as Opry members. After making few Opry appearances for the majority of their careers, Larry has really stepped up his appearances over the past several years and has done a fine job as the host of Opry Country Classics.

December 27, 1978: Grand Ole Opry member Bob Luman passed away. He was just 41 when he died. He joined the Opry in 1965 and was known for his rockabilly music. When he joined the Opry, several of the Opry's more traditional members, including Roy Acuff, felt that Bob's music had no place at the Opry. Bob's final Opry show had been earlier in the month, on December 2.

December 8, 1982: Marty Robbins died in a Nashville hospital at the age of 57. Probably considered the Opry's most popular member among fans, he had been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame the past October. In the Opry's history, Marty's 11:30 Opry segments were legendary. The clock meant nothing to Marty as he would sometimes perform for more than an hour in that final segment.

December 20, 1986: Randy Travis joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 27th year as an Opry member. Randy is a fine country music singer and it is just a matter of time before he is elected to the Hall of Fame. Sadly, he had a serious heart problem and stroke earlier this year and will probably never perform again.

December 17, 1993: Herman Harper, the famous and very popular bass singer of the Carol Lee Singers, pased away. Herman had formally been a member of the Oak Ridge Boys, back in the days when they were a gospel quartet.

December 19, 1999: Former Grand Ole Opry member Marion Worth passed away at the age of 69. Marion had joined the Opry in 1963 and while she was not a superstar, she always was very entertaining and crowd favorite. Her final Opry show was on March 22, 1980. After leaving the Opry, she continued to do a few live shows before retiring.

December 20, 1999: The legendary Hank Snow passed away at his Rainbow Ranch in Madison, Tennessee. Hank was just 2 weeks away from celebrating his 50th anniversary as an Opry member. he last appeared on the Opry in 1996 and had been in declining health. Hank was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. In the history of country music and of the Opry, Hank is one of the all-time greats.

December 16, 2000: Brad Paisley was surprised on the Opry stage by Jimmy Dickens and Jeannie Seely, who were dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus, with an invitation to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Brad accepted and was formally inducted in February 2001.

December 14, 2002: Toby Keith makes his first appearance at the Opry. Also appearing that night were Keith Urban and Trace Adkins.

December 31, 2002: Jim McReynolds, who performed with his brother Jesse McReynolds as Jim & Jesse, passed away in Gallatin, Tennessee after a long illness. Jim & Jesse joined the Opry in March 1964, and along with the Virginia Boys, were very popular in bluegrass circles. Jesse is still an Opry member and will celebrate his 50th anniversary in 2014.

To conclude the look back at the month of December, here is the Opry line-up from Saturday December 1, 1951, 62 years ago.

7:30: Warren Paint
Roy Acuff (host): Crawdad Song
Lew Childre: Hang Out the Front Door Key
The Le Croix Sisters: Down On My Knees
Oswald: Foggy Mountain Top
Howdy Forrester: Fire In the Mountain

7:45: American Ace Coffee
Roy Acuff (host): Just A Friend
Uncle Dave Macon: That's Where My Money Goes
Roy Acuff: Glory Bound Train
The Jug Band: I Like Mountain Music
Jimmy Riddle: They Cut Down the Old Pine Tree

8:00: Martha White
Ernest Tubb (host): Tomorrow Never Comes
Bill Monroe: Uncle Pen
Mama Maybelle: Keep on the Sunny Side
The Crook Brothers: 8th of January
Neal Burris: There's Been a Change in Me
June Carter: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Chet Atkins: Crazy Rhythm
Ernest Tubb: Bless Your Little Old Heart
Bill Monroe: Truck Driver Blues
Terry Young: Leather Britches

8:30: Prince Albert
Red Foley (host): Alabama Jubilee
Cowboy Copas: 'Tis Sweet to Be Remembered
The Square Dancers: Here and There
Red Foley: Farther Along
The Jordanaires: Search Me, Lord
Cowboy Copas: I Love You, My Darling, I Love You
String Bean: Lonesome Road Blues
Red Foley: Old Home Down On the Farm
The Square Dancers: Sally Goodin

9:00: Royal Crown Cola
Roy Acuff (host): Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine
The Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cotton Eyed Joe
Hank Williams: Cold, Cold Heart
Duke Of Paducah: Comedy
The Le Croix Sisters: Down Yonder
Moon Mulligan: Heartless Lover
Lonzo and Oscar: Why Should I Cry Over You
Roy Acuff: Don't Wait 'Til Judgement
Hank Williams: Crazy Heart
Oswald: Late Last Night
Howdy Forrester: Tuckey In the Straw

9:30: Fortune Feed
Carl Smith (host): Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way
Little Jimmy Dickens: Cold Feet
Anita Carter: I'm Crying
Jamup and Honey: Comedy
Hank Snow: Music Making Mama
The Possum Hunters: Peacock Rag
The Jordanaires: Read That Book
Carl Smith: If Teardrops Were Pennies
Little Jimmy Dickens: It May Be Silly
Hal Smith: Sally Goodin

10:00: Wallrite
Bill Monroe (host): I'm On My Way Back to the Old Home
The Old Hickory Singers: I Want A Girl
Neal Burris: If You Need Me, I'll Be Around
Old Joe Clark: Shady Grove
Bill Monroe: Get Down On Your Knee and Pray

10:15: Dr. Le Gear
Roy Acuff (host): Who Broke the Lock
Uncle Dave Macon: Rock of Ages
Roy Acuff: The Heart That Was Broken for Me
Robert Lunn: Talking Blues
Howdy Forrester: Turkey in the Straw

10:30: Jefferson Island Salt
Ernest Tubb (host): Driftwood on the River
Little Jimmy Dickens: Lonesome
The Gully Jumpers: Mocking Bird
Moon Mulligan: Cherokee Boogie
The Jordanaires: Roll on Jordan
Ernest Tubb: I'm With A Crowd, But So Alone
June Carter: Mommy Real Pecooliar
Little Jimmy Dickens: If It Ain't One Thing, It's Another
Chet Atkins: Spanish Fandango
Mama Maybelle: Wild Flower
Fiddle: Ricketts Hornpipe

11:00: D-Con
Cowboy Copas (host): Down in Nashville, Tennessee
Annie Lou and Danny: I Still Do
Lazy Jim Day: Singing the News
Cowboy Copas: Shame, Shame on You
Fiddle: Bill Cheatham

11:15: Niresk
Hank Williams (host): Moaning the Blues
Sam and Kirk: While I'm Away
Audry Williams: Tightwad Daddy
Hank Williams: I Can't Help It
Fiddle: Bile Dem Cabbage Down

11:30: Soltice
Hank Snow (host): One More Ride
Lew Childre: Everybody's Fishing
The Crook Brothers: Fishers Hornpipe
Hank Snow: Brand On My Heart
The Crook Brothers: Trouble Among the Yearlings

Carl Smith (host): Part of My Heart Is Missing
Lonzo and Oscar: Let's Live a Little No. 2
The Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin' Hen
Carl Smith: Let's Live a Little
The Fruit Jar Drinkers: Down Yonder

A good look back!!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 11/29 & 11/30

The Grand Ole Opry has gotten a head start on the Thanksgiving day weekend and has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend. After going with 2 shows at the Ryman on Saturday nights for November, the Opry is back to 1 show this weekend and then resumes the 2 shows next Saturday night.

Overall, the quality of the shows is not that bad, considering that it is the holiday weekend. The Friday Night Opry is highlighted by Opry members Vince Gill and Mel Tillis. They will be joined by Ray Pillow, who is hosting for the 2nd week in a row. Guest artists Kalisa Ewing, The Willis Clan and Restless Heart are also scheduled.

The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night will feature guest artists Guy Penrod, The Grascals, Jimmy Wayne, Chuck Mead, T.G. Sheppard and J.T. Hodges. If that sounds like a lot of guests, that is because there are just 6 Opry members scheduled. We should be grateful that we get 8 members on Friday Night.

Friday November 29
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Kalisa Ewing; Mike Snider
7:30: Ray Pillow (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; The Willis Clan
8:15: John Conlee (host); Jimmy C Newman; Restless Heart
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Janelle Arthur; Mel Tillis

Saturday November 30
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); J.T. Hodges; Mike Snider
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); T.G. Sheppard; The Grascals
8:15: John Conlee (host); Jean Shepard; Jimmy Wayne; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys; Guy Penrod

Interesting that the Opry decided to go with Ray Pillow hosting a segment on Friday night instead of Mike Snider. Based on past history, you would have expected Mike to have hosted. I have noticed that Mike has reduced his Opry appearances over the past several months. Makes you wonder if he is on the "outs" with Pete Fisher.

Sometimes it is hard to follow some of the dates and appearances that have taken place in the history of the Grand Ole Opry, but the best that I can determine, it was Saturday November 27, 1971 that Margie Bowes made her last appearance as a member of the Opry. Margie would return to the Opry on occasion, especially at the annual Old-Timer's Nights, that took place at the Opry. She was always well received and continued to impress the Opry audiences.

In the 1969 edition of the WSM Grand Ole Opry History Picture Book, Margie is described as "an animated, effervescent young singer whose lively presence has sparkled the Grand Ole Opry for little more than a decade". Margie came to Nashville from Roxboro, North Carolina and was the 1958 winner of the Pet Milk Grand Ole Opry talent contest and became an Opry members shortly after. During Margie's career, she had a number of chart records, with her best being "Poor Old Heartsick Me", which reached #10 on the charts. She also has written a number of songs, including "When Dreams Go Out of Style", which was recorded by Loretta Lynn. Margie was married for a time to Doyle Wilburn. Since leaving the Opry, Margie has continued to live in the Nashville area and worked in the medical field.

Here is the Opry line-up from Saturday November 27, 1971:

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
4 Guys (host): Let The Sun Keep Shining
Stringbean: Ruby
Margie Bowes: Understand Your Gal/Big City
4 Guys: Shenendoah

6:45: Rudy's
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): This Train
Ernie Ashworth: Sad Face
Del Wood: Raggin' The Keys
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: I Couldn't Care Less

7:00: Luzianne
Charlie Louvin (host): I Don't Love You Anymore/Think I'll Go Somewhere And Cry Myself To Sleep/See The Big Man Cry
Earl Scruggs Revue: Lonesome Reuben
Grandpa Jones: Old Blue
Jack Barlow: Birmingham Blues
Charlie Louvin & Diane MCCall: I'm Gonna Leave You
Earl Scruggs Revue: You Ain't Going Nowhere
Grandpa Jones: Eight More Miles To Louisville
Jack Barlow: It Ain't No Big Thing
Charlie Louvin: Will You Visit Me On Sundays

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jean Shepard: Safe In The Loving Arms Of Mine
Merle Kilgore: Ring Of Fire
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel
Oswald: Southern Moon
Jean Shepard: Just As Soon As I Get Over Loving You
Merle Kilgore: Honky-Tonk Man
Roy Acuff: I Saw The Light

8:00: Martha White
George Morgan (host): Easy Lovin'
Skeeter Davis: One Tin Soldier
Archie Campbell: Comedy
George Morgan: The Gentle Rains Of Home
Louie Roberts: Sandy
George Morgan: Candy Kisses

8:30: Stephens
Wilburn Brothers (host): Roll, Muddy River
Peggy Little: Little Henry Hurt
Jay Lee Webb: She's Looking Better My The Minute
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Walking In My Sleep
Wilburn Brothers: The War Keeps Dragging On
Peggy Little: Son Of A Preacher Man
Jay Lee Webb: The Happiness Of Having You
Wilburn Brothers: That She's Leaving Feeling
Ed Hyde: The Grey Eagle

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Doin' My Time
Margie Bowes: Will The Circle Be Unbroken
Louie Roberts: Come Back, Salina
Harold Weakley: Almost Persuaded
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Turn Your Radio On
George McCormick: Big Wind
Stoney Cooper: Back Up And Push

10:00: Fender
4 Guys (host): Over On The Other Side
Stringbean: Train 45 Heading South
Jack Barlow: Child Bride
4 Guys: Let There Be Peace

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Sunshine Special
Earl Scruggs Revue: Paul And Silas
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird
Howdy Forrester & Earl Scruggs: Sally Goodin

10:30: Trailblazer
Charlie Louvin (host) w/Diane McCall: Something To Brag About
Grandpa Jones: Kitty Klide
Del Wood: Beer Barrrel Polka
Charlie Louvin: I Placed A Call To My Conscience

10:45: Beechnut
George Morgan (host): Easy Lovin'
Jean Shepard: Safe In The Loving Arms Of Mine
Crook Brothers: Ida Red
George Morgan: The Last Letter

11:00: Coca-Cola
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Skeeter Davis: One Tin Soldier
Merle Kilgore: Woverton Mountain
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Phil Campbell: A Thing Called Love
Skeeter Davis: Love Takes A Lot Of My Time
Sam McGee: Under The Double Eagle
Merle Kilgore: Folsom Prison Blues

11:30: Elm Hill
Wilburn Brothers (host): It Looks Like The Sun's Gonna Shine
Peggy Little: Little Henry Hurt
Jay Lee Webb: The Happiness Of Having You
Wilburn Brothers: The War Keeps Dragging On
Peggy Little: My God Is Real
Jay Lee Webb: Heart Over Mind

Finally, another date that I want to mention is November 28, 1992, which was the night Marty Stuart joined the Opry. This will be his 21st year as an Opry member. Marty joined the show the week following the death of Roy Acuff, whose name was mentioned a lot that night.

While just a member since 1992, Marty has been around the Opry for many years, as he was part of Lester Flatt's Nashville Grass. After that, he was part of Johnny Cash's band and then in the 1980's, he signed a deal with Columbia Records and he was off and running. He had a number of hits including "Hillbilly Rock" and "Tempted", along with several duets with fellow Opry member Travis Tritt. While his hit making days have ended, he has made several fantastic albums on his own label, Superlatone Records, and since 2008 has had a hit series on RFD-TV, "The Marty Stuart Show." He claims it is the highest rated series on the network and they are starting to film a new season of shows.

One item that I find interesting with Marty is that he occupies a dressing room at the Opry that previously belonged to three of his heroes. As Marty said, "It's a special room. This room was originally occupied by Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours, then Marty Robbins, and then Porter Wagoner had it. They've given this room to me and the Superlatives now." The dressing room is filled with many pictures and posters of his heroes and is a sight to see. My only wish is that Marty was in that room more often

Here is the line-up from Saturday November 28, 1992, the 1st Opry show after the death of Roy Acuff and the night Marty Stuart joined the Opry.

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Boxcar Willie (host): There's Nothing Like A Good Old Country Song
Mike Snider: (?-Instrumental)/The Fur Coat
Boxcar Willie: The Great Speckled Bird

6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame
Grandpa Jones (host): Nashville On My Mind
Jim Ed Brown: The Doll Maker
Bill Carlisle: Elvira
Grandpa Jones: My Little Old Home In New Orleans

7:00: Shoney's
Del Reeves (host): Two Dollars In The Jukebox/A Dime At A Time/Looking At The World Through A Windshield
Charlie Louvin: The Family Who Prays
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
The Whites: Pins & Needles
Skeeter Davis: The End Of The World

7:30: Standard Candy
Jimmy Dickens (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jeannie Seely: As Long As I Live/My Tears Don't Show
Ray Pillow: I Wonder Where You Are Tonight
Marty Stuart: Tempted/The Long Black Veil
Jimmy Dickens: I Saw The Light

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Wild Weekend
Connie Smith: How Great Thou Art
Oswald: I'll Be All Smiles Tonight
Jimmy C Newman: La Cajun Band
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Liberty
Bill Anderson: I Love You Drops

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): Forever And One Day
Jean Shepard: Let's All Go Down To The River/I Saw The Light/Will The Circle Be Unbroken/I'll Fly Away/Somebody Touched Me
Roy Drusky: Too Old To Die Young
4 Guys: I'm Bound For Higher Ground
Stonewall Jackson: Ol' Chunk Of Coal
Hank Snow: I've Cried A Mile

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Jimmy Dickens (host): Sleeping At The Foot Of The Bed
Wilma Lee Cooper: He Will Set Your Fields On Fire
Jan Howard: Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good
Marty Stuart: This One's Gonna Hurt You A Long, Long Time/I'll Take The Blame/Hillbilly Rock
Jimmy Dickens: My Eyes Are Jealous

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): What'll I Do With The Baby
Del Reeves: Don't You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me
Grandpa Jones: Gone Home

10:15: Tennessee Pride/Sunbeam
Boxcar Willie (host): There's Nothing Like A Good Old Country Song
Billy Walker: Peace In The Valley
Boxcar Willie: Wabash Cannonball

10:30: Randy Travis Enterprises
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
The Whites: San Antonio Rose
Bill Anderson: City Lights

10:45: B.C. Powder
4 Guys (host): How Married Are You Mary Ann
Charlie Louvin & Monroe Fields: I Love You Best Of All
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Snow Flake Reel
4 Guys: Farther Along

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): There's A Fool Such As I
Jean Shepard: Bouquet Of Roses
Charlie Walker: A Way To Free Myself
Justin Tubb: Waltz Across Texas
Mike Snider: Soldier's Joy/Angeline The Baker/Old Molly Hare
Hank Snow: These Things Shall Pass

11:30: Creamette
Jimmy C Newman (host): Cajun's Dream
Connie Smith: The Deepening Snow
Roy Drusky: As Long As I Live
Johnny Russell: In A Mansion Stands My Love/He'll Have To Go
Jimmy C Newman: Colinda

I hope that everyone has a very thankful and grateful Thanksgiving. I know up here in Ohio it is going to be a white Thanksgiving. As always, my thanks go to those who read the blog and to those who comment on the blog. I enjoy the "give and take", and please continue to visit.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!