Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 3/1 & 3/2

(I have updated the line-up to reflect the additions of Scotty McCreery and Charlie Worsham. I don't know why Scotty was not on the original line-up posted as he has been advertised for this show for over a month.)

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend and the big news is the return of Blake Shelton to the Opry stage. Blake joined the Grand Ole Opry in October 2010 and since he joined the show, he has made just 4 Opry appearances, the last of which was in 2011. With his recent comments regarding the fans of classic country music, and knowing how Pete Fisher and the Opry management operates, it is really no surprise that he is back on the show. Since is ill-advised comment, he has been reaching out to some of the traditional country artists and doing some repair work on his reputation.

In addition to Blake Shelton, who is appearing both nights, the Friday Night Opry will feature Opry members Montgomery Gentry, Josh Turner and Steve Wariner. In fact, of the 12 acts scheduled for Friday night, 11 are Opry members. The exception is the country group Parmalee, which will be making their Grand Ole Opry debut.

Saturday night's show will feature a former Grand Ole Opry member, BJ Thomas. BJ was an Opry member for a very short period of time, joining the Opry on August 7, 1981. He actually made 7 Opry appearances that year, but was gone shortly after that. This was one of those situations that just didn't work out for BJ. Joining BJ will be pop artist Richard Marx, who will be performing with BJ. Also appearing on Saturday will be Morgan Frazier, who is another in the long line of new female singers in country music. On a final note, still no Jimmy Dickens this weekend, and as it was noted last week, he is not listed on the Opry's website for any upcoming Opry appearances.

Friday March 1:
7:00: Steve Wariner (host); Mike Snider; Parmalee
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jimmy C Newman; Montgomery Gentry
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); George Hamilton IV; Josh Turner
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Jesse McReynolds; Blake Shelton

Saturday March 2:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Charlie Worsham; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Presss
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Morgan Frazier; Connie Smith
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); BJ Thomas w/Richard Marx; Scotty McCreery; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Blake Shelton

Also this week, the Tuesday Night Opry returns after the winter layoff. The show this week will honor the 50th anniversary of the death of Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Randy Hughes. Among those scheduled to perform are Jean Shepard, who was the wife of Hawkshaw Hawkins. I would expect a moving performance and perhaps some personal thoughts from Jean. Also scheduled will be Mandy Barnett, who has done an outstanding job performing as Patsy Cline.

7:00: Darryl Worley; Jean Shepard
7:30: Florida Georgia Line; Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys
8:15: Riders In The Sky; Terri Clark
8:45: John Conlee; Mandy Barnett

It is too bad that the Opry did not schedule some of the legends who were members of the Opry at the time Patsy, Cowboy and Hawkshaw were, or who knew them. Folks such as Bill Anderson, Jimmy C Newman, and Jan Howard among others. I think tributes are done best by those who personally knew the artists being honored. If this is a show to honor this group, why is Florida Georgia Line scheduled? On the other hand, we should feel good that the Opry is taking the time to remember this tragic event. Over the past decade, they have not done a real good job remembering or honoring the history of the show. Perhaps this will be a start.

For this week's look back in Grand Ole Opry history, I want to go with 2 different dates. The 1st is from March 2, 1963, 50 years ago this weekend, which was the final Opry show for Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas. They would pass away several days later in that tragic plane crash. As noted last week, Patsy Cline's final Opry show was the previous week. On this particular Saturday night, Patsy was performing in Birmingham, Alabama with Flatt & Scruggs, Tex Ritter and Charlie Rich as part of a package show.

7:30: Kelloggs
George Morgan (host): Little Dutch Girl
Carter Family: 14 Carat Nothing
Jimmy C Newman: Bayou Talk
Willis Brothers: Eat A Little More
George Morgan: Untie the Knot
Harold Morrison: Pretty Little Pink
June Carter: (?)
Jimmy C Newman: A Fallen Star
George Morgan: Down Memory Lane

8:00: Martha White
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Come Walk With Me
Billy Walker: I've Got A New Heartache
Wilburn Brothers: Roll Muddy River
Stringbean: Pretty Little Widow
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: There's A Higher Power
Del Wood: Are You From Dixie
Margie Bowes: Think It Over
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Wilburn Brothers: Troubles Back in Town
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Philadelphia Lawyer

8:30: Stephens
Hawkshaw Hawkins (host): Darkness on the Face of the Earth
Lonzo & Oscar: There's A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea
Bobby Lord: Out Behind the Barn
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Hawkshaw Hawkins: I Don't Apologize
Glaser Brothers: Lover's Farewell
Curly Fox: Instrumental
Hawkshaw Hawkins: Silver Threads & Golden Needles

9:00: Jefferson Island Salt
Cowboy Copas (host): You Don't Have to Be A Baby To Cry
Bill Monroe: (?)
Roy Drusky: Second Hand Rose
Minnie Pearl: Comedy
Cowboy Copas: Alabam
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheethem
Bill Carlisle: Shutter and Boards
Bill Monroe: (?)
Cowboy Copas: The Man Upstairs

9:30: Pet Milk
Roy Acuff (host): Plastic Heart
Jordanaires: (?)
Marion Worth: Shake Me; I Rattle
Cousin Jody: Lady Cop
Roy Acuff: The Wreck on the Highway
Brother Oswald: Roll On Buddy, Roll On
Justin Tubb: (?)
Jimmy Riddle: Fox Chase
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

10:00: Gates Rubber
George Morgan (host): Roly Poly
Curly Fox: (?)
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Satisfied
Del Wood: Bill Bailey
George Morgan: Who's Jealous Now

10:15: Luzianne
Wilburn Brothers (host): Day After Day
Bill Carlisle: Leave That Liar Alone
Margie Bowes: Within Your Crowd
Harold Morrison: The Cat Came Back
Wilburn Brothers: Not That I Care

10:30: Harvey's
Jimmy C Newman (host): (?)
Carter Family: (?)
Billy Walker: Thank You For Calling
Jimmy C Newman (?)

10:45: Ford
Hawkshaw Hawkins (host): Big Old Heartache
Willis Brothers: I Still Do
Stringbean: There'll Be Moonshine In Them Old Kentucky Hills
Crook Brothers: Sally Goodin
Hawkshaw Hawkins: Lonesome 7-7203

11:00: Coca-Cola
Roy Acuff (host): Little Pal
Jordanaires: (?)
Marion Worth: Tennessee Teardrops
Lonzo & Oscar: I'm My Own Grandpa
Roy Acuff & Brother Oswald: Stuck Up Blues
Sam & Kirk McGee: While I'm Away
Justin Tubb: (?)
Brother Oswald: John Hardy
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbin' Ridge
Roy Acuff: Shake Me Mother's Hand For Me

11:30: SSS Tonic
Cowboy Copas (host): Down in Nashville, Tennessee
Bill Monroe: (?)
Roy Drusky: It Worries Me
Cousin Jody: Mockingbird
Archie Campbell: A Fool's Side of Town
Glaser Brothers: Odds & Ends
Bobby Lord: So Doggone Lonesome
Bill Monroe: (?)
Cowboy Copas: Flat Top

The 2nd date I would like to look back to is March 1, 1980. This was a night that the Opry was televised on PBS as part of their fundraising program. The Opry was first televised on March 4, 1978 and would be televised annually until 1981. And unlike TNN, CMT and GAC, these were full Opry shows. The only concession to television made by the Opry, and to accomodate PBS, was that the radio commericals were not aired over PBS and the sponsor signs were covered. The commercials were replaced by backstage features. The 1980 show was the 3rd in the series of 4 televised and took place 33 years ago Friday Night.

1st show:
6:00: Vietti
Del Reeves (host): Crazy Arms/My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You
Jean Shepard: Then He Touched Me
Wilburn Brothers: God Bless America Again
David Houston: There's A Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere
Del Wood: 12th St. Rag
Del Reeves: Take Me To Your Heart and Let Me Live There

6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Charlie Louvin (host): I Don't Love You Anymore/I Think I'll Go And Cry Myself to Sleep/See the Big Man Cry
Connie Smith: Satisfied
Hank Locklin: Send Me The Pillow You Dream On
Charlie Louvin: Love Don't Care

6:45: Rudy's
Charlie Walker (host): Don't Play Me No Songs About Texas
Skeeter Davis: It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
Ernie Ashworth: There's No Place I'd Rather Be Tonight
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Tennessee Saturday Night
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner's Daughter/We've Come A Long Way Baby
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong With the Way That We're Doing it Now
Jim & Jesse: Freight Train
Porter Wagoner: Everything I've Always Wanted

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Down in Union County
Minnie Pearl: Careless Love
Jimmy Dickens: Another Hell of A Night In Dixie
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Durang's Hornpipe
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

8:00: Martha White
Grandpa Jones (host): Stop That Ticklin' Me
Wilma Lee Cooper: A Daisy A Day
Ronnie Milsap: Back on My Mind Again/Why Don't You Spend the Night
4 Guys: Let There Be Peace
Grandpa Jones: Fallen Leaves

8:30: Acme
Hank Snow (host): I Don't Hurt Anymore
Osborne Brothers: Take Me Home Country Roads
Marion Worth: Someone Is Looking for Someone Like You
Roy Drusky: Welcome Home
Hank Snow & Kelly Foxton: Hasn't It Been Good Together
Fruit Jar Drinkers: (?)

2nd show
9:30: Kelloggs
Porter Wagoner (host): Ole Slewfoot
Jean Shepard: Seven Lonely Days
Ronnie Milsap: I'm a Stand By My Woman Man/What Goes On When the Sun Goes Down/Day Dreams About Night Things
Charlie Lovin & Jim & Jesse: Show Boat Gambler
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Ray Pillow: Super Lady
Porter Wagoner: Cold Hard Facts of Life/Carroll County Accident/Green Green Grass of Home

10:00: Little Debbie
Jack Greene (host): Yours For the Taking
Jeannie Seely: Since I Met "Cha Boy
Vic Willis: Last Cheater's Waltz
Jack Greene & Jeannie Seely: Fox on the Run

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Once More
Minnie Pearl: Jealous Hearted Me
Connie Smith: He Was There All the Time
Roy Acuff: Lord, Don't Give Up On Me

10:30: Trailblazer
Grandpa Jones (host): Who Will Sing For Me
Skeeter Davis: The Old Rugged Cross; The King is Coming
Billy Grammer: When They Ring The Golden Bells/Kentucky
Jan Howard: I Will Survive

10:45: Beechnut
George Hamilton IV (host): Forever Young
Loretta Lynn & Sissy Spacek: You Ain't Woman Enough
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Rachel
George Hamilton IV: Close Your Eyes, I'll Be There in the Morning

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Stu Phillips: There's More to Love
Osborne Brothers: Country Boys & Georgia Mules are Fading Fast Away
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
4 Guys: Fire
Hank Snow & Kelly Foxton: My First Night Alone

11:30: Budweiser
Marty Robbins (host): Tonight Carmen
Wilma Lee Cooper: I Couldn't Believe it Was True
Jimmy Dickens: Out Behind the Barn
Roy Drusky: Just A Closer Walk With Thee
Marty Robbins: Don't Worry/Cool Water/Muddy Water/Among My Souvenirs/The Great Speckled Bird/Love Me/El Paso City/You Gave Me A Mountain/Touch Me With Magic/She's Made of Faith/A White Sports Coat/What Are Friends For Jenny/El Paso
(That was 13 songs for Marty, a total of 48 minutes)

On an interesting note, Ernest Tubb, Archie Campbell and Don Gibson were all scheduled but cancelled. Ernest was scheduled to host both segments that Loretta Lynn was on.

There you have it for this week. Enjoy the Opry.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 2/22 & 2/23-Updated

Update #2:
Jimmy Dickens is off the schedule for Saturday night. Riders In The Sky are back to hosting the opening segment with Mike Snider moving into the 2nd segment hosting spot. Frequent Opry guest Jimmy Wayne has been added.

2 changes in the Opry line-up for this weekend already. Jean Shepard is out on Friday night, replaced by Sunny Sweeney. On Saturday night, Riders In The Sky have moved down a segment and will be hosting the 2nd segment. Mike Snider has been moved down. And the reason for this move is that Jimmy Dickens has been added to the Saturday night line-up, hosting in his usual spot. I will be interested to see if he makes it or not, and will be listening to see how he sounds and what he might say about being gone.

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend. Standing out right away is the fact that Jimmy Dickens is once again missing from this week's show. I have heard nothing new regarding Jimmy, so let's hope he is well. I did notice that they have taken his name off the list of any future appearances. At 92, we all know he is week-to-week. I also have noticed that Jean Shepard is on the schedule for Friday night. Jean has been battling a few health issues lately so I am glad to see that she is listed.

As far as the shows for this week, the Friday Night Opry will feature former America Idol Lauren Alaina, along with Edens Edge, The Steeldrivers and Opry member Joe Diffie. Saturday night's show will have another "Nashville" perfomer as Jonathan Jackson makes another Opry appearance, along with frequent Opry guest Aaron Tippin. Old Crow Medicine Show, one of my personal favorites, is scheduled for both nights, and once again, we see Ricky Skaggs on the Opry schedule. The way Ricky is starting off the year, you would think he is setting himself up for a record number of shows. No matter what the reason, I am glad to see Ricky doing the Opry more. The show needs him. Finally, I don't want to forget to mention Ray Pillow, who is doing his 1st Opry show of the year, and hosting a segment, which I think he does very well.

Friday February 22:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host): Edens Edge; Jesse McReynolds
7:30: Mike Snider (host): Sunny Sweeney; Joe Diffie
8:15: Ray Pillow (host): The Steeldrivers; Lauren Alaina
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host): Jimmy C Newman; Old Crow Medicine Show

Saturday February 23:
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host): Maggie Rose; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Mike Snider (host): Jimmy Wayne; Aaron Tippin
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host): George Hamilton IV; Jonathan Jackson; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host): The Whites; Old Crow Medicine Show

In looking back at Grand Ole Opry history, it will be 50 years ago this Saturday night, February 23, 1963 that Patsy Cline made her final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Patsy had joined the Opry on January 9, 1960, making her an Opry member for just short of 3 years. But her contributions to the show were great. Even before becoming a member, she had made numerous guest appearances. Patsy would pass away a week later, on March 5, 1963 in Camden, Tennessee after the plane that she was returning to Nashville in crash, killing not only her but Randy Hughes, Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins. While February 23 was the final date that Patsy performed on the Opry, both Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins would perform on the show the next Saturday, March 2.

I know I have posted this line-up before, but I also know that there are new readers to the blog who might not have seen it, so here is the running order of the Grand Ole Opry, Saturday February 23, 1963, Patsy Cline's final Opry show.

7:30: Kelloggs
Faron Young (host): Yellow Bandana
Willis Brothers: San Antonio Rose
Marion Worth: Shake Me; I Rattle
Harold Morrison: Beaver Creek
Faron Young: How Much I Must Have Loved You
Del Wood: 12th St. Rag
Merle Kilgore: I Am
Willis Brothers: Big Daddy
Faron Young: Hello Walls

8:00: Martha White
Ray Price (host): Heartaches By The Numbers
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Doin' My Time
Hawkshaw Hawkins: Silver Threads and Golden Needles
Patsy Cline: Leavin' On Your Mind
Ray Price: Walk Me to the Door
Crook Brothers: Love Somebody
Billy Walker: Charlie's Shoes
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Satisfied
Ray Price: Crazy Arms

8:30: Stephens
George Morgan (host): Mississippi
Cowboy Copas: Alabam
Lefty Frizzell: (?)
Archie Campbell: Comedy
George Morgan: Almost
Curly Fox: (?)
Melba Montgomery: (?)
Cowboy Copas: Don't Shake Hands with the Devil
George Morgan: Rainbow in My Heart

9:00: Jefferson Island Salt
Roy Acuff (host): New River Train
June Stearns: Call Me Up
Bill Monroe: How Will I Explain About You
Minnie Pearl: Jokes
Roy Acuff: Sweeter Than the Flowers
Brother Oswald: Southern Moon
Bill Monroe: Were You There
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldiers Joy
Roy Acuff: Stay A Little Longer
Howdy Forrester & Jimmy Riddle: Cowbell Polka

9:30: Pet Milk
Hank Snow (host): I've Been Everywhere
Glaser Brothers: Lover's Farewell
Sonny James (?)
Cousin Jody: Lady Cop
Hank Snow: Begger to A King
Margie Bowes: Think It Over
Sonny James: (?)
Glaser Brothers: I Wish I Had Never Seen Sunshine
Hank Snow: These Hands

Faron Young (host): Safely In Love
Marion Worth: Tennessee Teardrops
Curly Fox (?)
Faron Young: Alone With You

10:15: Luzianne
Hawkshaw Hawkins (host): Darkness on the Face of the Earth
George Morgan: Allegheny Rose
Del Wood: Blue Eagle
Hawkshaw Hawkins: Twenty Miles From Shore

10:30: Harvey's
Ray Price (host): (?)
Cowboy Copas: Filipino Baby
Patsy Cline: Bill Bailey
Ray Price: (?)

10:45: Sustaining
Roy Acuff (host): I Don't Know Why
Willis Brothers: Footprints in the Snow
Brother Oswald: Mountain Dew
Crook Brothers: Soldier's Joy
Roy Acuff: So Many Times

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Big Wheel
Bill Monroe: A Good Woman's Love
Billy Walker: Thank You For Calling
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: There's A Higher Power
Hank Snow: Yellow Roses
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bile Them Cabbage Down
Glaser Brothers: Odds and Ends
Sam & Kirk McGee: Freight Train Blues
Bill Monroe: Big Sandy Breakdown
Hank Snow: Wreck of the Old 97

11:30: SSS Tonic
Marty Robbins (host): Ruby Ann
Margie Bowes: Within Your Crowd
Sonny James: (?)
Cousin Jody: Mockingbird
Marty Robbins: Devil Woman
Don Winters: Too Many Times
Margie Bowes: I Really Don't Want to Know
Sonny James: (?)
Marty Robbins: Don't Worry

Talk about a line-up!! Every segment but one was hosted by a future Hall of Fame member and it is amazing to see up to 10 songs in a half hour segment. If you ever listen to tapes from the Opry back in those days, it was short introductions and little or no talking between songs. In other words, it was get on and get off!! The other interesting fact is that this show took place during the period when the Opry wasn't doing so well at the Ryman, with crowds down due to the rock n' roll explosion that was taking place. Among the Opry members missing that night were Ernest Tubb, Grandpa Jones and Porter Wagoner among others. And if I did my adding right, there were a total of 35 performers on the show that night, with 11 being future Hall of Fame members. Compare that with this Saturday night with just 11 acts total on the show, and no Hall of Famers. You can really see where the Opry has gone in the last 50 years.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Roy Acuff's 75th Anniversary

This week will mark a special moment in the history of the Grand Ole Opry as it was 75 years ago this week, on February 19, 1938 that Roy Acuff became a regular performer on the Grand Ole Opry. While the Grand Ole Opry may or may not mark the occasion, I thought that it is an important enough milestone to mention.

Roy Acuff first appeared on the Opry in October 1937 but the appearance did not go well. David Cobb, a WSM announcer at the time said, "I sincerly did not want to say anything to hurt Roy's reputation, but I said the sonner he found another way to make a living, the better it would be for him." Pee Wee King also had some memories about Roy's early visit to the Opry, and in getting him to come back. "My manager, Joe Frank, was the one who gave Roy his first big boost. He contacted Roy and said, 'Man, you're missing the big boat. You don't have to be stuck in a little town like Knoxville. Come on down to Nashville. You can go national.' Roy was skittish about leaving Knoxville, especially since he'd been turned down by the Opry once."

Roy came back to Nashville and was offered another chance to audition for the show. This was on February 5, 1938 and David Stone picks up the story. "There was a gap in the program. Someone stopped too early or didn't show up. I crooked my finger at Roy. He came out and I introduced him, and Roy said he was going to sing 'The Great Speckled Bird.' Come Monday morning, the powers that be wanted to know who was the guy singing about the bird. But as the morning went on, the lanky guy who was head of our mail department called up and said, 'What are we going to do about all these letters coming about something to do with a bird?' We went down to the mail room and there were several stacks of mail just for Roy."

Roy Acuff also had some memories. "You didn't get on the Opry for singing a song or having a hit number. They didn't ask you if you ever recorded. They didn't care. You had to be a showman. The only way you could get on was to have something to show and prove it. When I came back, I was supposed to fiddle, and I did. But I sang 'The Great Speckled Bird' that night. The audience reaction was overwhelmingly positive. The next day, we had to be in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, then I went back to Knoxville, and in two weeks they sent my mail. It came in bushel baskets." Roy also said, "I was hired by the Opry as a fiddle player. Country music in the late 1930s was mostly instrumental. I never would have lasted as a fiddle player. I've stuck around all these years because of my singing."

At the time, the biggest stars on the Opry were the Delmore Brothers and it was through their request that David Stone offered Roy a spot on the Opry and WSM. The letter that David wrote back to Roy, dated February 10, 1938 said, "I am in receipt of your telegram that you will be here for programs starting the 19th. I will book you for a spot on the Grand Ole Opry, and also a series of 7:00 a.m. programs starting Monday February 21st.

When Roy came to the Opry, his band was called the Crazy Tennesseans. The group included Clell Summery, Jess Easterday, Imogene Sarrett and Red Jones. Because of the objections of David Stone, Roy changed the name of his group to the Smoky Mountain Boys.

What is also interesting about Roy coming to the Opry is that Harry Stone was the person who actually hired Roy, and not George D. Hay. Hay was on leave from the show in 1937 and early 1938 and during the time he was gone, Harry Stone took over active management of the Opry and began to hire professional entertainers for the show. Those included Curly Fox and Texas Ruby and Pee Wee King and his Golden West Cowboys. What is interesting is that when Hay returned to the show he would constantly have disagreements with Pee Wee over the western style music that he played, along with the slick presentation that his group had, and with Roy. Hay's issue with Roy is simply that he felt Roy was not good enough to be on the Opry, and he had already been turned down once.

While Roy has always been associated with the Grand Ole Opry, he did have his differences with the management, one of which led him to leaving the Opry in 1946. Roy made some salary demands to management, feeling that since he was the biggest star and host of the Prince Albert Show, he should be paid more than the others. Rather than give in to his demands, the Opry hired Red Foley to come in and take over the Prince Albert hosting spot and Roy left the Opry. Roy spent his time away from the Opry touring, and in 1947 after an extensive tour on the West coast, was was hospitalized in a Nashville hospital. Among his visitors were Harry Stone and Ernest Tubb. From Roy, "Harry said, 'Roy, the Opry is losing many of its people, and it looks like maybe we're going under if you don't come back and be with us. Come and help us out. We wish you would change your mind, and come back.' I replied, 'Harry, if I mean that much to WSM and the Grand Ole Opry, I will come back and to everything I can to help the Opry at all times.'"

When Roy did come back on April 26, 1947, it was not as the host of the Prince Albert show. Red Foley, who turned out to be very popular as that host, kept the slot and Roy was given the Royal Crown Cola segment to host. He also came back at a higher rate for his appearances than union scale. Roy would remain a member of the Grand Ole Opry until his death in November 1992, and as he said he would do, he did everything he could to help the Opry at all times.

In looking back to the February 19, 1938 show that marks Roy's hiring as an Opry performer, also appearing on the Opry that night were DeFord Bailey, Dr. Humphrey Bate, Crook Brothers, Delmore Brothers, Curly Fox and Texas Ruby, Fruit Jar Drinkers, Pee Wee King and his Golden West Cowboys, the Gully Jumpers, Jack Shook and His Missouri Mountaineers, Lakeland Sisters, Robert Lunn, Kirk and Sam McGee, Uncle Dave Macon, Sarie and Sally, and theVagabonds, among others.

The Opry doesn't seem to spend much time looking back at it's history. I wish that they would as there are so many important events that have influenced where the show is at today. While the little 8 minute video that they show before the show is nice, they could do so much more. Pete Fisher and the group can start by making special mention of Roy Acuff and the 75th anniversary from when he joined the Grand Ole Opry. No man has influenced the show more and we could use some of that influence today.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 2/15 & 2/16

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-up for the 2 shows this weekend. The line-ups are pretty solid, with the Friday Night Opry featuring Opry members Josh Turner and Craig Morgan. What is interesting for Friday is that Craig will be hosting a segment, which I believe is the 1st time that he has had the opportunity. Also appearing on Friday night will be non-members The Black Lillies, along with newcomer Chris Janson.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will feature guest artists The Grascals, who I believe would make good Opry members, Jenn Bostic, and country music veteran Collin Raye. Appearing on both nights again this weekend is Ricky Skaggs, who seems to have taken up temporary residence at the Opry as he continues his string of 2013 Opry appearances. Missing again this weekend is Jimmy Dickens, with nothing new to report regarding Jimmy.

Friday February 15
7:00: John Conlee (host); Chris Janson; Jean Shepard; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); George Hamilton IV; Josh Turner
8:15: Craig Morgan (host); Jim Ed Brown; Riders In The Sky
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; The Black Lillies

Saturday February 16
7:00: John Conlee (host); Greg Bates: Jesse McReynolds
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Connie Smith; The Grascals
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jenn Bostic; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Collin Raye

Out of the 13 acts on Friday night, 11 are Opry members, while 8 of the 12 acts on Saturday night belong to the Opry. As an Opry fan, it is tough to see just one show on Saturday night and such few Opry members on the schedule. The Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree will feature George Hamilton IV this weekend.

This week's look back at Grand Ole Opry history takes us back to Saturday February 15, 1947, 66 years ago this weekend. This one obviously goes way, way back and Eddy Arnold was still a member of the Opry at this time. It was also the Opry anniversary of The Andrew Brothers, who joined the Opry on February 18, 1939. That show would have marked their 8th year as an Opry member.

February 15, 1947
8:00: Purina
Eddy Arnold: Just Because
Oklahoma Wranglers: Farther and Farther Apart
Rod Brasfield: Jokes
Uncle Dave Macon and Dorris: Bill Bailey
Eddy Arnold: Mother the Queen of My Heart
Jamup and Honey: Jokes
Zeke Clements: Am I Too Late
Lonzo and Oscar: Green Back Dollar
Crook Brothers: Sally Goodin
Eddy Arnold: What Is Live Without Love

8:30: Warren Paint & Color Co.
Paul Howard: I Can't Go On This Way
Lew Childre: Alabamy Bound
Bill Monroe: Blue Moon of Kentucky
Milton Estes: Good Old Mountain Dew
Clyde Moody: Shenandoah Waltz
Lew and Stringbean: The Martins and the Coys
Jimmy Salph: Writing Your Darling Through Tears
Possum Hunters: Stoney Point
Robert Lunn: Robert Lunn Blues
Jimmy Walker: No One Will Ever Know
Bill Monroe: True Life Blues

9:00: Royal Crown
Golden West Cowboys: Steel Guitar Rag
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Leather Britches
Cowboy Copas: Divorce Me C.O.D.
Texas Ruby: Dear Old Southern Home
Johnny and Jack: This World Can't Stand Long
Bradley Kincaid: Old Smokey
Annie Lou and Danny: Ragtime Cowboy Joe
Cowboy Copas: Tragic Romance
York Brothers: Rainbow at Midnight
Shorty Boyd: Flower of Texas

9:30: Prince Albert
Red Foley: Tennessee Central No.9
Oak Ridge Quarter: I'm In His Care
Duke of Paducah: Jokes
Curley Fox: Whoa Mule Whoa
Red Foley: Old Shep
Grandpa Jones: Gathering Flowers from the Hillside
Minnie Pearl: Jokes
Old Timers Quartet: Oh You Beautiful Doll
Red Foley: One Step More
Breakdown: Skip to My Lou

10:00: Wall-Rite
Chubby: Fire on the Mountain
Lester and Bill: No One Will Take You From Me
Quartet: Shining Path
Marie and Clyde: Railroad Boomer
Bill Monroe: Little Joe

10:15: Weatherhouse
Paul Howard: With Tears In My Eyes
Uncle Dave Macon and Dorris: In the Sweet Bye and Bye
Clyde Moody: Leaf of Love
Possom Hunters: Miss Sally
Zeke Clements: I'll Face the World with a Smile

10:30: Cherokee Mills
Texas Ruby: Foggy River
Bradley Kincaid: Swapping Song
Lazy Jim Day: To Be Selected
York Brothers: A Love That Ended Too Soon
Curley Fox: Black Mountain Rag

10:45: Southern Agriculture
Milton Estes: There's A Big Rock in the Road
Lew and Stringbean: John Henry
Johnny and Jack: To Be Selected
Crook Brothers: Will The Circle Be Unbroken
Milton Estes: Say You'll Be Mine

11:00: Eddy Arnold Songbook
Eddy Arnold: Chained to a Memory
Lily Belle: A Face I See at Evening
Lonzo and Oscar: Jole Blonde
Eddy Arnold: So Sure There's No Mistake

11:15: Ernest Tubb Songbook
Ernest Tubb: Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right
Dot and Smokey: Columbus Stockade Blues
Jimmy and Leon: You Gotta Pay the Fiddler
Ernest Tubb: Forth Worth Jail

Golden West Cowboys: Kentucky Waltz
Oklahoma Wranglers: El Rancho Grande
Gully Jumpers: Breakdown in D
Kirk McGee: Golden River
Golden West Cowboys: Nashville Blues

11:45: Michigan Bulb
Wally Fowler: Plowing in the New Ground
Jimmy Walker: Tear Stains on My Letter
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Rabbit Where is your Mommy
Andrews Brothers: Mother's Only Sleeping
Wally Fowler: I Got Faith
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Dixie-Home Sweet Home

A couple of Opry notes from this time period:

>There was no Roy Acuff on the Opry during this period as this was when he had "quit" the Opry and went on tour. Red Foley had replaced Roy as the host of the Prince Albert show.
>The Golden West Cowboys were headed by Pee Wee King, a future Hall of Fame member.
>Interesting that even then, Kirk McGee was scheduled in a later slot. Years later, he would complain about the Opry putting him on so late.
>The Oklahoma Wranglers was of course, the original name for the Willis Brothers, long-time Opry members.
>Interesting that Ernest Tubb was scheduled for only 1 later segment, of which he sponsored himself.
>Rod Brasfield and Minnie Pearl received just one slot.
>Nice to see such old-times as Uncle Dave Macon and Bradley Kincaid on the show.

A nice look back.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Blake Shelton Scheduled For Opry

The Grand Ole Opry has posted that Blake Shelton has been scheduled for Saturday March 2. I guess that answers the question as to what the Opry's management response would be to his remarks concerning country music and its veteran performers. I can almost guarantee that GAC will televise the show live, or tape it for replay later.

On another note regarding the March 2nd show, Scotty McCreery is also scheduled that night. Earlier that week on February 27, the Opry is doing a special show for the Country Radio Seminar that is taking place in Nashville. Scheduled for that show are Opry members Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Josh Turner and Darius Rucker, along with guest artists Little Big Town, Dustin Lynch, Greg Bates and Kacey Musgraves. Also scheduled is the above mentioned Scotty McCreery. While I have not heard anything offical, or even in the rumor stage, I would maybe pay attention to the show that night. There might be some interesting news coming out of it.

As far as Blake Shelton, I am happy that he is coming back to do the Opry after being gone for over a year, but I think we all know it is nothing more than a public relations stunt to get him back in good standing with country music and its fans. We will see how his appearance goes. Personally, I would love nothing more than to have Blake perform on a segment hosted by Jean Shepard. I would gather that she would not be afraid to say something to Blake and put him in his place.

In another Opry note, Jimmy Dickens will again be missing this weekend from the show. It has been since December that Jimmy last did the Opry. The word is that he is doing fine and just resting at home, getting his voice back in order. Let's hope that is all it is.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 2/8 & 2/9

Before getting into the Grand Ole Opry line-up for this week, a couple of notes regarding some past Grand Ole Opry performers:

Richard Garratt, a partner and founding member of The Four Guys, passed away on February 3rd. There was no cause of death listed. He was part of the original group that joined the Opry on April 13, 1967. The other original members were Sam Wellington, Berl Lyons and Brent Burkett. He remained a part of The Four Guys into the early 1970s, when he left and was replaced by Dave Rowland, who would later have success with the group, "Dave & Sugar." After Dave left the group, Richard rejoined, staying for a few years until the majority of the group fired him as there were differences.

Also passing away this week was Sonny Day, who was a member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys. Sonny played accordian and was instrumental in helping to create the unique Acuff sound in the 1940s. He was featured on the original recording of "Wabash Cannonball" and starred with Acuff in the movie "Night Train to Memphis." He also performed with Minnie Pearl, Patsy Cline, Tanya Tucker and Vince Gill. He also received a star on the Walkway of the Stars at the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1981. After the movie with Roy, Sonny left the Smoky Mountain Boys in an effort to achieve his own solo success. For a time he had a show on WEOL radio in Elyria, Ohio. After that, he worked for various people in the music history.

As far as the Opry this weekend, one of the Opry's long lost members is returning to the show and that is Lorrie Morgan, who will be hosting segments on Friday and Saturday night. I was doing a little checking and in 1985, right after she joined the Opry, she was on 130 times. By 1989, she was down to 43 appearances and by 1991, she was down to just 5, as her solo career began to finally take off. She would not it double digits again in Opry appearances until 2000 when he made 12 appearances. Last year she was on the Opry just 5 times. Hopefully 2013 will be different.

Also appearing on both shows this weekend is Ricky Skaggs. Including this weekend, there have been 12 Opry shows so far in 2013 and Ricky has been on 7 of those. That is an impressive start to the year, and it is nice to see Ricky really stepping up his Opry shows over the past several years.

In addition to Lorrie and Ricky, the Friday Night Opry will include guest appearances by The Isaacs, Kellie Pickler and Lee Greenwood, who is celebrating the 30 year anniversary of his recording of "God Bless the USA." Saturday night's show will feature frequent Opry guests Darryl Worley and Restless Heart. And no Jimmy Dickens again this weekend.

Friday February 8
7:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; John Conlee
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; The Isaacs
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Striking Matches; Lee Greenwood
8:45: Lorrie Morgan (host); Jesse McReynolds; Kellie Pickler

Saturday February 9
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Craig Campbell; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Lorrie Morgan (host); Jimmy C Newman; Connie Smith
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Restless Heart; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Darryl Worley

This week's look back in Grand Ole Opry history goes to February 7, 1981, which is the night John Conlee joined the Opry. He will mark his 32nd year as an Opry member by appearing on Friday night. Like many of those who joined during this era, his Opry appearances were few and far between for the first dozen or so years that he was a member. However, as his touring and hit making days have slowed down, he has become more of an Opry regular, setting a good example for others from his generation.

Congratulations to John Conlee for 32 years of Opry membership and here is the line-up from Saturday February 7, 1981, the night John Conlee joined the Grand Ole Opry.

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Stonewall Jackson (host): Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
Ernie Ashworth: Mind Your Own Business
Stonewall Jackson: Ol' Chunk of Coal

6:45: Rudy's
Charlie Walker (host): Crazy Arms
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong With the Way that We're Doing It Now
Bill Carlisle: Knothole
Charlie Walker: Don't Play Me No Songs About Texas

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol' Slewfoot
Jimmy Dickens: Take An Old Cold Tater
John Conlee: She Can't Say That Anymore/What I Had With You/Rose Colored Glasses
Connie Smith: When God Dips His Love In My Heart
Porter Wagoner: What I've Always Wanted/On A Highway Headed South

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jean Shepard: Slippin' Away
Jim & Jesse: Truck Stops and Pretty Girls
Vic Willis Trio: Last Cheater's Waltz
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Durang's Hornpipe
Roy Acuff: That's The Man I'm Looking For

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): I Love You Drops
Skeeter Davis: The Rose
Wilburn Brothers: Making Plans
Ray Pillow: Countryfried
Lonzo & Oscar: Green, Green Grass of Home
Bill Anderson: Mr. Peepers

8:30: Acme
Hank Snow (host): Storms Never Last
4 Guys: Fire
Charlie Louvin: Mama's Angels
Roy Drusky: Don't It Make You Want to Go Home
Stu Phillips: I Will
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Bailey
Hank Snow & Kelly Foxton: Check

2nd show
9:30: Kelloggs
Porter Wagoner (host): Tennessee Saturday Night
4 Guys: Swing Down, Chariot
Jimmy Dickens: John Henry
Billy Grammer: When Your Hair has Turned to Silver
David Houston: My Lady
Two's Company: How Can I Help You Forgive Me
Porter Wagoner: On A Highway Headed South

10:00: Little Debbie
Jack Greene (host): I Need Somebody Bad Tonight
John Conlee: Back Side of Thirty/Rose Colored Glasses
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): I Couldn't Believe it was True
Jan Howard: Good Hearted Woman
Bill Carlisle: Same Old Tale that the Crow Told Me
Carol Lee Singers: A Song That Holy Angels Cannot Sing
Howdy Forrester & Jimmy Riddle: Limerock

10:30: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): One More Sexy Lady
Jean Shepard: You Still Have A Place in my Heart
Jim & Jesse: The Rider in the Rain
Bill Anderson: Golden Guitar

10:45: Beech-Nut
Charlie Louvin (host): See the Big Man Cry
Connie Smith: Love Lifted Me
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travlers: Black Mountain Rag
Charlie Louvin: She Is

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Old Shep
Skeeter Davis: Isn't It Always Love
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Stu Phillips: Born to Be A Man
Kirk McGee: Blue Night
Kelly Foxton: Make the World Go Away

11:30: Bama
Roy Drusky (host): Strangers
Lonzo & Oscar: Blue Kentucky Home/Boogie Grass Band
Ray Pillow: Bubbles In My Beer/Too Many Memories
Opry Staff Band: Buckaroo
Roy Drusky: The Last Farewell/One Day at A Time

Again, congratulations to John Conlee!!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Country Music Hall of Fame

First, I always give credit where credit is due, and I thank David who I am sure all of you recognize from his comments on the blog, for passing this along to me. Somehow I missed it and I appreciate it.

Usually by March 1st, the Country Music Hall of Fame announces the newest inductees. Information has been posted on another website that lists 5 names in each category that David, along with myself, are assuming are the finalists in each category. If this is the case, this would be the 2nd year in a row that a leak has come out of the Hall of Fame voting. Personally, I would think that the Hall would want to announce the finalists ahead of time, and create a little excitement and news for the Hall of Fame. The major sports do it, as does the Rock Hall of Fame. Again, this is unofficial, but here are the 5 names being mentioned in each category:

Veterans' Era
(These acts are eligible for induction in this category 45 years after they first achieved national prominence)

Dottie West
Johnny & Jack
The Browns
Hank Williams, Jr
Archie Campbell

The surprise on this list is Johnny & Jack. While deserving, their names have not come up before. Perhaps it was the deaths of Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright that have people staring to think about this duo. But I will say, that they are a longshot at best. If I was a voter, my preference would be The Browns. It is time to honor them while they are still alive and able to enjoy it. While my heart says The Browns, realistically I think it will be Dottie West. There seems to be a big push for her this year. ( I will say that I am somewhat surprised again that Bobby Bare and the Wilburn Brothers did not make this list. There had been some talk in the last part of 2012 about the Wilburn's getting consideration, and in my opinion, Bobby Bare is more than deserving to be in the Hall).

Modern Era
(These acts are eligible for induction in this category 20 years after they first achieved national prominence)

Kenny Rogers
The Oak Ridge Boys
Ronnie Milsap
Ricky Skaggs
Alan Jackson

Wow, this is a tough category. Alan Jackson will get in someday, and soon. But for now, he can wait. Kenny Rogers and Dottie West going in together would seem logical and if Dottie does get it, I would fully expect Kenny to join her. Many already think the Oak Ridge Boys are already in. Ricky Skaggs set the trend for traditional country music and bluegrass. If I was a voter, Ronnie Milsap would be my pick. His string of #1 hits is remarkable as well as overcoming his handicap. While my heart is for Ronnie, realistically I would not be surprised if it was Kenny Rogers. All are deserving.

Non-Performer, Songwriter. and / or Touring Musician active prior to 1980
(This is the rotating category, with 2013 set aside for the non-performer)

Buddy Killen
Joe Galante
Fred Foster
Jimmy Bowen
Tony Brown

I think the 3 favorites would be Buddy Killen, Fred Foster and Tony Brown. Jimmy Bowen, while influential and with an impressive record, floated around with different labels and has made some enemies along the way. The same can't be said for Tony Brown and you can probably count on Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris pushing the way for him. His work goes back to Elvis and he is well liked and popular. Buddy Killen is one of the pioneers in the publishing business and Fred Foster was head of Monument Records. I will say that I am surprised that Cowboy Jack Clement is not a finalist, but going from this list he did not make the cut. Realistically, I think any of the 3 I mentioned could go in, with my personal vote going to Tony Brown.

Those are my thoughts. I now open it up to others.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

February Opry Highlights

As I do each month, here are the important and historical events that have taken place in Grand Ole Opry history during the month of February:

February 9, 1914: The legendary Ernest Tubb was born in Crisp, Texas. He came to the Grand Ole Opry in the early 1940s and opened the first Ernest Tubb Record Shop in 1947. He was one of the first members elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame and in his career he probably helped more young entertainers to get their start in the business than anyone else in the history of country music. He passed away in 1984 after a long illness.

February 1, 1928: Harry Stone becomes the Grand Ole Opry's staff announcer. Harry would eventually become the general manager of WSM radio and in that position, he and the Opry's founder George D. Hay, would clash over the direction of the Opry. Judge Hay wanted to keep the show rural and as he would say, "close to the ground", while Harry Stone wanted to make the show more professional and bring on paid, full time entertainers to be on the show. We all know who won that argument. Once the Opry started down that road, it has never turned back.

February 25, 1932: Faron Young was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. Faron joined the Louisiana Hayride in 1951 and in 1954 he came to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry. He would remain an Opry member until December 6, 1964, when he was fired from the Opry for failing to appear the required 26 times per year. While he would not rejoin the Opry, Faron would continue to make guest appearances on the show. He passed away in 1996. Following his death, he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

February 5, 1938: Roy Acuff makes his second Grand Ole Opry appearance, along with his band, the Crazy Tennesseans. His first appearance had taken place several months prior and was not considered very good. On his return date, Roy sang "The Great Speckled Bird" and the listeners responded with an avalanche of mail to WSM. 2 weeks later, on February 19, 1938, he was added to the cast. With his addition, the Opry began a shift from an emphasis on instrumental music to vocal performers. When Roy first joined the Opry, he spent time touring with Uncle Dave Macon and the Delmore Brothers, who were established entertainers and knew the territory. On a final note, Harry Stone didn't like the name of Roy's band. He thought that the name "Crazy Tennesseans" was a slur on the state and he recommended to Roy that since he was from the Smoky Mountain area of Tennessee, that he adopt that name. So beginning on February 26, 1938, it was Roy Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys, and it would remain that way until his death in November 1992.

February 18, 1939: The Andrew Brothers became regular performers on the Grand Ole Opry. They were brought in to replace the Delmore Brothers, who had left the show. The 2 brothers were known for their harmony and were from Mobile, Alabama.

February 23, 1952: Del Wood makes her debut on the Grand Ole Opry. The previous year, she had a million selling instrumental record with "Down Yonder", which featured her signature ragtime piano playing. When Del accepted the invitation to play the Opry, she turned down a two week engagement to play with Bob Crosby and his orchestra. She would reamin at the Opry as a member until her death on October 3, 1989. Those who knew Del will tell you that she was one of a kind and her ragtime piano is still missed at the Opry today.

February 26, 1955: The Louvin Brothers, Charlie and Ira, became members of the Grand Ole Opry. In 2001, the Louvin Brothers were elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and some of the greatest songs in country music history came from this duo. Ira passed away on June 20, 1965, the result of a terrible head-on automobile accident. Charlie continued as an Opry member until his death in January 2011. In his later years, Charlie was bitter over the treatment given to him by the Opry's management and the reduction in the number of his Opry appearances. On a side note, some publications give the Louvin's Opry date induction date as February 10, however that was not on a Saturday night. (As many of us know, the Opry is famous for playing with dates).

February 23, 1957: Porter Wagoner joins the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. He would be one of the Opry's most colorful and popular members until his death on October 28, 2007, shortly after being honored for 50 years of Opry membership. Porter made his first appearance at the Opry the year before, in 1956 and he would later write about that night. "The first night I appeared on the Opry, I came off the stage and went back to the little dressing room area, and I met Roy Acuff in the hallway there. And he came up to me and he said, 'Porter, I'm awful glad that you're becoming a part of the Grand Ole Opry. We need more of your kind of people here.'" It is ironic that after Roy died in 1992, Porter would replace him as the face of the Opry. The first night he was on the Opry, he was introduced by Carl Smith, who would later become one of Porter's good friends. During his time as an Opry member, he brought Norma Jean, Mel Tillis and Dolly Parton to the Opry, along with James Brown.

February 27, 1959: The late Billy Grammer joined the Grand Ole Opry. Billy remained an Opry member until his death in April 2011. On the Grand Ole Opry the week after his death, Vince Gill opened the show by singing Billy's signature song, "Gotta Travel On", paying tribute to one of the finest singers and guitar players the Opry has known.

February 4, 1960: Billy Walker, the "Tall Texan" joined the Grand Ole Opry. Billy would have a long career in country music and remained an Opry member until his death on May 21, 2006, the result of a car accident as he was returning to Nashville from a show in Alabama. On the night he joined the Opry, he was introduced by Ernest Tubb.

February 6, 1960: George Hamilton IV becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 53rd year as an Opry member, although for a period of time George left Nashville and gave up his Opry membership. George has traveled all over the world, bringing country music to millions of fans, and still tours overseas. I can tell you from personal experience that George is one of the nicest and most sincere members of the Grand Ole Opry.

February 23, 1963: Opry member Patsy Cline makes her final Grand Ole Opry appearance. Less than 2 weeks later, she would die in a plane crash, along with fellow Opry members Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas. Randy Hughes also passed away in the crash. Patsy was an inspiration to a generation of female country singers including Loretta Lynn, Dottie West and Jeannie Seely. Patsy was later elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

February 8, 1975: After an absence of 18 years, Jimmy Dickens rejoined the cast of the Opry. Hank Snow introduced him that night by saying, "Jimmy is one of the greatest showmen of all time. It's like replacing the most important spoke in a wheel to have him back on the Opry. We need more Jimmy Dickenses." That night, Jimmy sang "Family Reunion" and later said, "I thought it was appropriate. It's hard to put in words and say how you feel about being back in the family. It's been so long." Unlike the first time Jimmy joined the Opry in 1948, this time he stayed around and is still an Opry member today.

February 6, 1976: Ronnie Milsap joins the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 37th year as an Opry member. Sorry to say, but Ronnie has not taken full advantage of his Opry membership, and his appearances have been few and far in-between. But whenever he plays the Opry, this future Hall of Fame member always receives a great ovation.

February 7, 1981: John Conlee joins the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 32nd year as an Opry member. I am sure all of you know that John was a licensed funeral director in his home state of Kentucky. He has one of the most distinctive voices in country music and his hit, "Rose Colored Glasses" is one of the great classics in country music history. After first appearing on the Opry, John was quoted as saying, "I made sure to stand on the circle from the stage of the old Ryman. That circle has been so important to me because so many big stars had stood on that wooden flooring." Early on as an Opry member, John made few appearances. But over the years, as his touring has slowed down, John has become one of the Opry's more dependable members. He has set an example for others of his generation who should be taking advantage of the Opry as their active recording and touring years have concluded. My favorite John Conlee story comes from last year when I was walking from my car to the Opry's stage door at the back of the Opry House and not paying attention, I almost got hit by a tour bus. As I looked up, I was surprised to see that the driver of the bus was John Conlee. I got a honk and a wave.

February 21, 1981: Boxcar Willie joined the Grand Ole Opry. Boxcar became a star late in life, thanks to his hobo character and his late night television commercials promoting his album of train songs. He made his first Grand Ole Opry appearance on June 19, 1980, at the age of 49. He was "discovered" while performing in England by Wesley Rose, who encouraged him to head to Nashville as he knew his partner Roy Acuff would love to meet him. He got to Nashville, met Roy, and the rest is history as Roy immediately got Boxcar a guest slot on the Opry. Boxcar was also one of the first country music star to put a theater in Branson.

February 20, 1988: The Opry honored Roy Acuff for 50 years of Opry membership. TNN devoted a one hour segment to Roy that featured Minnie Pearl and Loretta Lynn. The previous evening, Johnny Cash and June Carter were scheduled to appear with Roy on the Friday Night Opry, but cancelled their appearances. On an additional note, during the Saturday segment following Roy's televised show, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton reunited on the Opry stage for the first time in 14 years.

February 24, 1991: Webb Pierce passed away in Nashville. Webb came to Nashville from the Louisiana Hayride in 1952 and made his first Grand Ole Opry appearance as a guest on the "The Prince Albert Show." When he joined the Opry in 1953, he was considered the replacement for Hank Williams. Webb was considered one of the biggest stars in country music in the 1950s, but he did not say as an Opry member for long. As he later said, "You had to be there every Saturday night and that was too much, because, you see, most of our money, we made it on Saturday night. Of course, we'd be on a tour and then we'd have to turn around at the end of the week and be back at the Opry. I don't care if you was in Podunk, Canada." In 2001, Webb was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

February 29, 1992: Travis Tritt joins the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 21st year as an Opry member. While still an Opry member, Travis has not appeared on the Opry since 2007. It was on this same night that Trisha Yearwood made her first Opry appearance.

February 21, 1998: The Opry honored long-time Opry member Grandpa Jones, who had passed away earlier in the week from complications after suffering a stroke in January while at the Opry. Grandpa's close friend and neighbor Bill Carlisle, along with Vince Gill, Ramona Jones and Grandpa's children, led the cast in the singing of the great Grandpa Jones song, "Falling Leaves."

February 17, 2001: Brad Paisley joins the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 12th year as a Grand Ole Opry member. On the night that Brad was inducted as a member, he wore the bright yellow jacket that Buck Owens, one of his idols, wore on the cover of the 1966 Live at Carnegie Hall album.

February 16, 2002: Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt and Hank Williams, Jr., performed on the Opry in tribute to Waylon Jennings, who had passed away earlier that week. Porter Wagoner would call it "the most exciting night I can ever remember on the Opry." The 3 entertainers, along with Porter, spend an hour on stage singing Waylon hits.

February 18, 2003: Grand Ole Opry member Johnny Paycheck passed away following a long illness. After a career as an "outlaw" country artist and time in jail, Johnny joined the Opry on November 8, 1997. The cemetary plot that he was buried at in Nashville was donated by George Jones. He was 64 years old when he died.

February 26, 2005: Grand Ole Opry member Charlie Louvin was recognized for 50 years of Grand Ole Opry membership. He appeared on both shows that night and on the first show, he was featured in a segment hosted by Jim Ed Brown. Later that night, he hosted the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree.

There you have it.