Sunday, March 31, 2013

April 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 April.

April 19, 1924: The WLS "National Barn Dance" was aired in Chicago for the first time. It was the first of the many weekly "Barn Dance" programs that would spring up across the country and would be copied by many country radio stations, including WSM in Nashville. Lulu Belle & Scotty, Bradley Kincaid and Gene Autry were among the successful performers who were successful on WLS. The show would last until 1960 when the station changed formats.

April 17, 1926: Uncle Dave Macon becames a regular on the WSM Barn Dance. At the age of 55, he was the first perfomer who would come to the show with a national reputation and in a way, his hiring would start the show on the path of becoming a group of professional entertainers versus those who "came down from the hills for the weekend." He would remain an Opry member until his death on March 1, 1952 at the age of 81.

April 30, 1932: The Dixieliners, which consisted of Kirk and Sam McGee, along with Arthur Smith, made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Arthur Smith had been performing on the Opry for several years when he was teamed up with the McGees. Arthur played fiddle, Sam guitar and Kirk banjo. The performed well together and were popular. Within a short amount of time, they had two ten-minute segments on the show. However, Arthur had a drinking problem and was suspended from the Opry in 1938 for failing to appear for personal appearances. On January 14, 1939 the Dixieliners made their final appearance on the Opry as Arthur Smith left the Opry. After that Sam and Kirk McGee would continue with the Opry.

April 29, 1933: The Delmore Brothers, Rabon and Alton, made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. They stayed as regular performers until 1938. (back in those days the term members was not used). Alton would later have a book published that he wrote called "Truth is Stranger" that really details their stay at the Opry and in his view, what happened between them and George D. Hay and Harry Stone that caused them to leave the Opry. After leaving the Opry, the Delmore Brothers moved around from radio station to radio station, eventually ending up at WLW in Cincinnati, where they recorded as the Browns Ferry Four, with Grandpa Jones and Merle Travis. All 4 of these individuals would one day be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. At the time, the Rabon and Alton were considered among the most popular acts on the Opry.

April 15, 1937: Bob Luman was born in Texas. He gained fame as a member of the Louisiana Hayride, and then came to Nashville, joining the Opry in 1965. When Bob played at the Hayride, his guitarist was James Burton, who would join up and play with Ricky Nelson. When Bob joined the Grand Ole Opry, the younger fans loved him as he had a bit of rock n' roll to him. Roy Acuff, on the other hand, did not care for the style of music. Until he died in 1978, Bob had close to 40 songs on the country charts.

April 26, 1941: Ernest Tubb records "Walking The Floor Over You". The recording took place in Dallas, Texas and was one of the first country records to feature a prominent electric guitar. The success of this record would lead to Ernest coming to Nashville and joining the Opry in 1943.

April 14, 1945: Upon the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a performance of "Taps" was played on the stage of the Opry, which marked the first time that a trumpet was played during an Opry performance. Let's just say that it has been written that George D. Hay was not happy about that.

April 6, 1946: Roy Acuff quit the Grand Ole Opry in a salary dispute. At the time, he was the host of "The Prince Albert Show" segment of the Opry that aired on the NBC radio network. He was making $15.00 per night on the Opry and asked for a raise to $100 per night. When WSM refused his demands, he left the show, going out to California on an extended tour. Roy never really talked about this episode in his Opry career, but there was pride involved on both sides. He was the Opry's biggest star and he knew that if he went out on the road he could make more money and also have time to appear in movies. He wanted that recognized by both the Opry and the sponsor. Roy would eventually return to the Opry, and when he returned he was paid more than the union scale.

April 13, 1946: Chet Atkins makes his first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry. He was introduced by Red Foley. Chet later told the story. "I ran into Red in his manager's office. Actually, I had gone to Chicago to try to meet Foley. Anyway, I played a tune for him and sure enough he said, 'How'd you like to go to Nashville with me, Ches?' Dreams do come true sometimes." Chet stayed with Red and "The Prince Albert Show" for about 6 months, and then he quit after a dispute with the Esty Agency, who represented R.J. Reynolds Tabacco Company.

April 13, 1946: The same night that Chet came to the Opry, Red Foley debuted as the host of "The Prince Albert Show" segment of the Opry, that was broadcast on the NBC radio network. He also became a member of the Opry on that night. After Roy Acuff quit as a member of the Opry and as host of the show, William Esty and Company, which was the advertising agency that represented R.J. Reynolds Tabacco Company, the makers of Prince Albert, undertook a broadly based survey to determine how best to replace Roy. Most listeners wanted the Opry to continue without changes. But it came clear after all the questioning that a large percentage of Opry fans really wanted more music on the show, suggesting the need to replace Roy with an entertainer who was basically a singer. Esty checked all the available data, which included record sales, jukebox plays and radio favorites, and it all came down to Red Foley. Red would later say, "I guess I was never more scared than I was that night I replaced Roy Acuff. The people thought I was a Chicago slicker who had come to pass himself off as a country boy and bump Roy out of his job." Red of course was from Kentucky and he had a solid career as a country singer. He would be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Minnie Pearl would call Red, "the best looking thing she had ever seen."

April 26, 1947: After leaving the Opry the previous year due to a contract dispute, Roy Acuff returned to the Opry as the host of the Royal Crown Cola Show. As the story goes, Ernest Tubb and Harry Stone visited Roy in a Nashville hospital and Harry told him, "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. Please come and help us out. Roy, you mean everything. We wish that you would change your mind and come back." While there is no evidence that the Opry was going to go under, the speech to Roy accomplished what it meant to do and Roy rejoined the show, where he would stay for the remainder of his life.

April 3, 1948: The Louisiana Hayride starts with its 1st performance on KWKH in Shreveport. Over the next decade, a large number of the Opry's new members would come from this show, earning it the reputation as a farm club for the Opry. Those stars included David Houston, Billy Walker, Webb Pierce, Jim Reeves, Faron Young and Hank Williams, among many others. And of course, the Hayride played an early influence on the careers of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

April 26, 1952: Martha Carson joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. She came to the Opry on the strength of her hit, "Satisfied." She remained with the Opry until her first child was born in 1957 and then took a sabbatical, which also included a year of working in New York. According to Martha, "I got a leave of absence from the Opry. I didn't quit and I wasn't fired. When I cam back to Nashville, Opry manager Ott Devine said they had no openings. I never did go back. I never even got to be a guest."

April 15, 1953: Red Foley made his last Grand Ole Opry appearance as the host of the "Prince Albert Show." He would leave Nashville to work in televison, eventually hosting the Ozark Jubilee. Red had numerous personal issues and when he decided to leave the Opry, management had no objections. While many wondered about Red when he joined the Opry, he was one of the Opry's biggest and most popular stars during his time there. Nobody ever sang "Peace In The Valley" better than Red.

April 12, 1958: Don Gibson joined the Grand Ole Opry. Don would be a member of the cast until being fired in December 1964 for failing to make the required number of appearances per year. In 1975 he would rejoin the show and remain a member until his death of November 17, 2003. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001 and I am told that after he was elected, he never went to the Hall to see his plaque. Although he rejoined the Opry, he never really made that many appearances on the show after coming back.

April 30, 1960: The WLS "National Barn Dance", which was based out of Chicago, aired its final show. At one time, this was a major competitor for the Grand Ole Opry, and much like the Opry was, it was broadcast nationally.

April 30, 1966: Ray Pillow joined the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Ray's 47th year as an Opry member. On the night he was inducted, he was introduced by Ernest Tubb. Though he is now on senior status and his Opry appearances are reduced, he still does a great job hosting a segment and is one of the smoothest singers at the Opry.

April 22, 1967: The 4 Guys joined the Grand Ole Opry. They would remain Opry members until being fired by new Opry General Manager Pete Fisher in April 2000. They spent 33 years as Opry members and also operated a dinner theater in Nashville. The reason given for their termination was the fact that all of the original members were no longer current members of the group.

April 6, 1968: Following the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee, the city of Nashville imposed a curfew that forced the Opry to cancel its live performance for the first and only time in the history of the show (or so they say). WSM and the Opry aired a previously taped show. However, Roy Acuff, Sam and Kirk McGee, and a few others put on a makeshift show at a nearby sqaure dance hall for Opry fans that afternoon.

April 6, 1968: On the same date as the cancelled show, Bud Wendall takes over as the General Manager of the Opry replacing Ott Devine, who had been at the Opry since 1959.

April 21, 1971: After taking a break to raise her children, Connie Smith rejoins the Opry.

April 27, 1971: Opryland opens for the 1st time. The park was an immediate hit. 3 years later, the Opry House would be completed and the Grand Ole Opry would move out there.

April 12, 1972: The first "Fan Fair" was held in Nashville. It was so successful that it would become an annual event that still takes place today, although it is now called the "CMA Music Festival" and takes place in June.

April 2, 1977: Vito Pellettieri worked his final show as the Opry's stage manager. He suffered a stroke several days later and on April 14 he passed away at the age of 87. While very few have heard of Vito, he was probably one of the most influential people in the history of the Opry. So much so that he was never really replaced as the stage manager. Years after his death, one veteran Opry member was quoted as saying, "I miss Vito. You know, we don't have a marshall anymore. What we have out there is a piece of paper in a box, with a list of the acts and when they're supposed to go on. But we don't have anybody encouraging us, goading us, giving us advice on how to do better. Nobody to jack us up." One of Vito's closest friends was Hank Snow and Hank writes about Vito extensively in his autobiography. For those who do not know, Vito was the WSM librarian and started as the Opry's stage manager in 1934. Here is what Vito said of his first night at the Opry. "I went home, took me a big drink, and told my wife there wasn't enough devils in Hell to drag me back there." But he did go back, because as he later said, he needed the money. Vito was the one who set the Opry up on a schedule and assigned times and slots to the performers. He broke the show into segments with hosts and sponsors. Before he did that, the show was a free-for-all, with the performers coming and going when they pleased. To show what the Opry's members thought of Vito, in 1959, it was announced that he faced mandatory retirement from both of his positions at WSM (music librarian and Opry stage manager). Immediately, the Opry's members, every one of them, signed a petition demanding that he be allowed to continue at the Opry. WSM officials relented. Vito stayed with the radio show but retired as the station's librarian. That November during the annual disc jockey convention hosted by WSM, Opry performers staged a surprise program in Vito's honor. Roy Acuff made a lengthy, off-the-cuff speech. "He is one of the men who made the Opry what it is today." That was followed by a five minute standing ovation. Vito, with tears in his eyes said, "This is the most impressive moment in my life."

April 13, 1985: The Grand Ole Opry begins regular television broadcasts on The Nashville Network, (TNN). The original shows were a half-hour and would eventually expand to one hour. In 2001, the broadcast moved to Country Music Television (CMT) and in 2003 moved to Great American Country (GAC). The first televised show was a special one hour show and featured Roy Acuff as host, along with Connie Smith, 4 Guys and Minnie Pearl during the first half hour. The 2nd half hour was hosted by Porter Wagoner and he had Dottie West, Jack Greene, the Crook Brothers and the Melvin Sloan Dancers as his guests.

April 13, 1981: Guy Willis of the Willis Brothers, died at the age of 65. The Willis Brothers consisted of Guy, Skeeter and Vic, and they joined the Opry in 1946. They were originally called the Oklahoma Wranglers and backed Hank Williams.

April 20, 1991: Emmylou Harris begins a 3 night run at the Ryman Auditorium, where the recording of her "At The Ryman" album takes place. It marked one of the first uses of the Ryman for a performance since the Opry moved out in 1974. They were only able to use a portion of the seating for these shows due to the poor condition of the Hall. These performances helped to spark the idea of renovating and reopening the Ryman.

April 2, 1994: On TNN's telecast of the Grand Ole Opry that night, an all-star bluegrass jam took place featuring Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Roy Husky, Jr., Marty Stuart, Alison Krauss and the great Earl Scruggs. Vince said that night, "That's what this place is all about. Night that are like that."

April 12, 1997: Lewis Crook passed away in Nashville at the age of 87. The Crook Brothers joined the Opry on July 24, 1926, and remained at the Opry until 1988, a total of 62 years. Lewis was not with the Crook Brothers when they originally joined the Opry. He came aboard in 1928 and after Herman Crook passed away, Lewis would continue for a few more years to make appearances with the Opry's Square Dance Band.

April 6, 1998: Former Opry member Tammy Wynette passed away in Nashville at the age of 55. She had been having some serious health issues for a number of years.

April 18, 1998: Diamond Rio joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be their 15th year as Opry members and they remain a crowd favorite whenever playing the Opry. Since joining the show, they have generally done a good job, making at least the "asked for" 10 appearances each year.

April 12, 1999: Lecil Martin, known as "Boxcar Willie" passed away in Branson, Missouri at the age of 67. He joined the Opry in 1981, at the personal invitation of Roy Acuff.

April 17, 2004: The Judds made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.

April 30, 2004: The Grand Ole Opry took to the road and sponsored the Grand Ole Opry American Road Show, which took place in York, Pennsylvania. Those who were a part of the show included Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Del McCoury Band and Rebecca Lynn Howard.

There you have the highlights for this month!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hall of Fame Announcement April 10

I know there has been lots of speculation, but it has been confirmed that the Country Music Hall of Fame's 2013 inductees will be announced on April 10. There is a lot of interest in the announcement as there are so many deserving and eligible candidates. Those include Alan Jackson, Ronnie Milsap, Oak Ridge Boys, Dottie West, The Browns, Ricky Skaggs and Hank Williams, Jr. The fans of Dottie West and The Browns have been very active in promoting those candidates. All those named above, along with the other finalists mentioned, are all deserving and I am sure if not this year, at some point all will make the Hall.

In looking at some of the comments on the blog regarding the Hall of Fame and the possiblility of a "mass induction", I can tell you that is not going to happen. While the last, and only mass induction took place over a decade ago and did get a lot of the backlog of candidates into the Hall, most of those associated with it were not happy at all. I don't think you will see a repeat.

As far as the leading candidates, it is not a stretch to say that those I named above are the favorites, although I would be surprised if Hank, Jr. or Ricky got elected. I think the "money" is on Alan Jackson in the modern category, while there are many who feel that Dottie West or The Browns get in as a veteran act. The interesting thing is how Kenny Rogers, Oak Ridge Boys and Ronnie Milsap are actually classified. They could be in either category.

I am sure between now and April 10 there will be lots of comments, but let's keep it real and to the point. We don't need to go on about who might be elected in 5 or 10 years. Let's focus on this year, either those mentioned or perhaps others that might be considered.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 3/29 & 3/30

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the shows this weekend, and as they generally are Easter weekend, they are 2 pretty good shows.

The Friday Night Opry will feature guests artists Michael W. Smith, The Black Lillies, Old Crow Medicine Show and Maggie Rose. All have appeared previously at the Opry. If you have not had a chance to see The Black Lillies or Old Crow Medicine Show you would be in for a treat. Both acts are very, very talented. Appearing with them will be Opry members Ricky Skaggs, Craig Morgan and Bill Anderson, all of whom will be appearing both nights. For Bill, it is a return to the Opry after a brief vacation and Spring training.

The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night, in addition to Ricky, Craig and Bill, will feature new Opry members Rascal Flatts. In addition, guest artists Will Hoge, The Henningsens and Kacey Musgraves will be appearing. And Craig Morgan gets another opportunity to host a segment.

Friday March 29
7:00: John Conlee (host); Maggie Rose; Mike Snider
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jimmy C Newman; Old Crow Medicine Show
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds; Jean Shepard; Craig Morgan
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Black Lillies; Michael W Smith

Saturday March 30
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); The Henningsens; Mike Snider
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Will Hoge
8:15: Craig Morgan (host); Jim Ed Brown; Kacey Musgraves; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Rascal Flatts

As I mentioned, 2 pretty good shows. 9 Opry members each night.

For this week's look back in Grand Ole Opry history, I have a couple. The first is from Saturday March 28, 1970. This was the night that Marty Robbins returned to the Opry stage after his open heart surgery. His surgery took place on January 27th, so it was a remarkable comeback for Marty. Marty took the stage that night at 11:45 and the segment just about 45 minutes. And the crowd still wanted more. Everyone was smiling, even those at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop waiting for the Midnight Jamboree to start. This was during the days of 1 Opry show on Saturday night, and it was estimated that close to 2,000 people were waiting outside to take the place of people leaving the show early. And it was also the night that Marty first did, "My Woman, My Woman, My Wife", which he wrote for his wife right after his surgery. So here is the line-up from that night:

7:30: Standard Candy
Jim Ed Brown (host): (?)
Grandpa Jones: Make Me A Pallet Down on the Floor
Stu Phillips: Crystal Chandeliers
Bill Carlisle: I'm Moving
Jim Ed Brown: Lift Ring; Pull Open
Grandpa Jones: Dear Old Sunny South By the Sea
Stu Phillips: Blue Canadian Rockies
Bill Carlisle: Rusty Old Halo
Jim Ed Brown: Looking Back to See

8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt (host): Rolling in My Sweet Baby's Arms
Charlie Louvin: Will You Visit Me on Sundays
Billy Walker: Darling Days
Crook Brothers: Arkansas Traveler
V. Jorden: Little Dave
Charlie Louvin: Tiny Wings
Billy Walker: You Gave Me A Mountain
Uncle Josh: Just Joshin'

8:30: Stephens
Bill Anderson (host): But You Know I Love You
Earl Scruggs Revue: Lonesome Ruben
George Morgan: Lilacs and Fire
Jan Howard: Rock Me Back to Little Rock
Bill Anderson: Love Is A Sometimes Thing
Earl Scruggs Revue: Girl From the North Country
George Morgan: My Elusive Dreams
Bill Anderson: Thirty Pieces of Silver

9:00: Luzianne
Porter Wagoner (host): Big Wind
Dolly Parton: Just the Way I Am
Bobby Bare: God Bless America Again
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: Tomorrow is Forever
Del Wood: Down Yonder
Dolly Parton: How Great Thou Art
Bobby Bare: Detroit City
Mac Magaha & Buck Trent: Turkey in the Straw

9:30: Kelloggs
Hank Snow (host): Millers Cave
Willis Brothers: Bob
Leroy Van Dyke: If A Woman Answers, Hang Up the Phone
Jim & Jesse: I've Got A Freight Train in My Mind
4 Guys: The Games People Play
Leroy Van Dyke: Auctioneer
Jim & Jesse: Tennessee Central No 9
Hank Snow: Conscience, I'm Guilty

10:00: Fender
Jim Ed Brown (host): Alabama Jubilee
Grandpa Jones: Don't You Cry Melinda
Stu Phillips: Little Tin God
Bill Carlisle: Shanghai Rooster
Jim Ed Brown: Pop A Top

10:15: Union 76
Bill Anderson (host): Wild Weekend
Charlie Louvin: I Don't Believe You've Me My Baby/Don't Laugh/My Baby's Gone/When I Stop Dreaming
Jimmy Gaetley: People Lution
Bill Anderson: 8 by 10/Still/Po Folks

10:30: Trailblazer
Lester Flatt (host): Great Big Woman and A Little Biddy Bottle of Wine
Billy Walker: Cross the Brazos At Waco
George Morgan: Lilacs and Fire
Lester Flatt: Regina

10:45: Beech-nut
Porter Wagoner (host): You Gotta Have A License
Dolly Parton: Daddy, Come and Get Me
Earl Scruggs Revue: Foggy Mountain Breakdown
Crook Brothers: Sally Ann
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: Tomorrow is Forever

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): It's A Little More Like Heaven
Bobby Bare: The Streets of Baltimore
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Fire on the Mountain
Del Wood: Cajun Stripper
Bobby Bare: Four Strong Winds
Kirk McGee: Milk Cow Blues
Hank Snow: Born For You

11:30: Lava
Marty Robbins (host): Singing the Blues
Jim & Jesse: Golden Rocket/When I Stop Dreaming
Leroy Van Dyke: Oklahoma Hills/Walk on By
4 Guys: Put A Little Love In Your Heart/Ruby Don't Take Your Guns to Town
Marty Robbins: Begging to You/I Walk Alone/Devil Woman/I Love You in A Very Special Way/My Woman, My Woman, My Wife/They'll Never Take Her Love From Me

The next line-up is from Saturday March 29, 1980, 33 years ago:

1st show
6:30: Lonzo & Oscar (host): Ernie Ashworth
6:45: Billy Grammer (host): Jimmy Dickens
7:00: Roy Drusky (host): Connie Smith; Johnny Russell; Beverly Heckle
7:30: Jimmy C Newman (host): Skeeter Davis; Vic Willis; Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers
8:00: Osborne Brothers (host):Stu Phillips; Bill Carlisle; Del Wood
8:30: Hank Snow (host): 4 Guys; Justin Tubb; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Kelly Foxton

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host): Billy Grammer; Lonzo & Oscar; Ernie Ashworth
10:00: Roy Drusky (host): Connie Smith
10:15: Jimmy C Newman (host): Johnny Russell; Wade Landry
10:30: Osborne Brothers (host): Del Wood
10:45: Justin Tubb (host): Vic Willis; Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers
11:00: Hank Snow (host): Stu Phillips; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Kelly Foxton; Kirk McGee
11:30: 4 Guys (host): Bill Carlisle

It is safe to say that this was not one of the Opry's strongest line-ups.

On a final note, today was the memorial service for Jack Greene. And as I was finishing up this posting, a very good friend of mine who attended the service, called and gave me a rundown.

The service started with a recording of Jack Greene singing, and then Keith Bilbrey was introduced, and he acted as the MC. Dallas Frazier said a prayer and Keith did a brief biography of Jack, "The Life Of A Legend." Gene Watson performed "There Goes My Everything". Ricky Skaggs and The Whites did "Blessed Assurance" and then Lorrie Morgan did a fantastic version of "Ava Maria." Dallas Frazier delivered the message and then "Wish I Didn't Have to Miss You" was played. Jeannie Seely was introduced next and then Joe Rucker did "Statue of A Fool." Mandy Barnett performed "Peace In The Valley"and Penn Pennington, who performed with Jack for many years did "He Is My Everything." Dallas Frazier said some closing remarks and "Highway to the Sky" was played and everyone came out and sing "Will The Circle Be Unbroken." (I hope I got everything right and thanks Glen for the report. If I missed something, I apologize). Many members of the Opry Staff Band backed those singing at the service.

Among those in attendance was Garth Brooks, John Conlee, T G Sheppard and Kelly Lang, George and Nancy Jones, Steve Wariner, Crystal Gayle, Glen Douglas Tubb, along with Pete Fisher and his wife, who represented the Opry. Vince Gill was also scheduled to be there but was not. Also attending was former Opry announcer Haryl Hensley. Also attending was Jack's former wife, June. Special mention to LeeAnn Lallone, who put the service together. I know others were there and I wrote my notes as fast as I could, so if I missed someone, sorry about that.

I was told it was a fitting tribute to a great Opry star.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Observations From The Opry

This past weekend I was in Nashville and attended both the Friday Night Opry and the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night. It was a good weekend as both Opry shows were sold-out and the quality of the shows was pretty good. The crowds both nights were excited and seemed to really enjoy the shows.

The Friday Night Opry opened with John Conlee, Dailey & Vincent and Connie Smith for the 1st segment. All were in good form and sounded good. Dailey & Vincent have a nice bluegrass sound and I think someday they would make good Opry members. Connie did "Once A Day" and "Amazing Grace" and did a very good job on both numbers. George Hamilton IV hosted the 2nd segment, and his guests were Chris Janson and the Oak Ridge Boys. Chris is one of those young country singers and this was his 2nd time on the Opry. The younger fans knew who he was and he was loud and enthusiastic. He brought a lot of life to the show. The Oak Ridge Boys are well, the Oak Ridge Boys. I don't think they ever stand still on stage. They did 3 songs, including "Elvira" and "Bobbi Sue" before finishing with a gospel number. Since they did 3 songs, George IV did just an short version of "Break My Mind" to finish the 1st half of the show.

The 2nd half started with Ricky Skaggs, who was with Kentucky Thunder and did not do bluegrass, instead sticking to his traditional country sound. His first guest was another of the younger female singers, Jaida Dreyer. This was the 2nd time I have seen her on the Opry, and I am sorry but I was not impressed. She wore a short, tight dress and has the blonde dyed hair. It was nothing against her youth, I just did not like her voice and she rambled on too much before she started singing and between songs. Ricky's final guest was the great Gene Watson. He looked and sounded good. My only complaint was I wished they would have let him encore with one of his great hits. But he did 2 songs and Ricky finished it out. The final segment was hosted by Jeannie Seely, with Bobby Osborne and Alan Jackson as the guests. Bobby was limited to one song, which as usual was "Rocky Top." Alan did 3 songs and as you would expect, he was the star of the show. I do have 2 issues with Alan, First, he is an Opry member but only does the show once or twice a year. He needs to be there more. And second, when he came out to sing, there were about 20 or 25 rolled up shirts on the piano behind him and during his entire time on stage, he kept going back and throwing the shirts into the crowd. I have never seen that at the Opry before, and while the fans who caught the shirts were happy, it kind of distracted a bit from his singing. Jeannie closed out the show with a final number. Over all, it was an excellent show.

Saturday night I was able to go backstage and get a different perspective of the show. I have been back there before and always enjoy the time and seeing the artists behind the scenes. It also is great to get a chance to talk to a few of them. As far as backstage, The Marshall Tucker Band had Roy Acuff's dressing room #1, while Ricky Skaggs and #2. Jim Ed Brown and Jimmy C Newman were in Jimmy Dicken's room, while the other artists were scattered about. Also, George Hamilton IV was backstage. I was surprised to see him as he was not scheduled, but I found out that every night he is not on tour, he acts as the backstage host to the groups that pay the extra money for a backstage tour of the Opry House. He waits for the groups in the green room and talks to them about the Opry. He is the perfect one to do that with his great personality. A great decision by the management.

As far as the show, Jim Ed Brown hosted the first segment and had Kristen Kelly, Jimmy C Newman and Jean Shepard has his guests. Jim opened with "Pop-A-Top" which is always a treat. Kristen did 2 songs and sounded good on both, while Jimmy and Jean did one each. Jean looked ok and sounded good. Jeannie Seely hosted the 2nd segment and her first guest was Kayla Sloan, the Walmart cashier. She was very, very nervous and while I don't know how she sounded on the radio, in the Opry House she sounded very good. She did "Coal Miner's Daughter" and "Coat of Many Colors". She is really, really country. I hope if she has a career in music that some record company doesn't ruin her voice. The audience gave her a standing ovation. Marshall Tucker Band followed and they were great. I know they are "Southern Rockers" but they sounded and looked more country than most of those who were on the show. They had the crowd in their hands and they brought Kayle out to sing "Can't You See" with them. A very special Opry moment.

After intermission, John Conlee hosted, with Jan Howard doing one number and then Charles Esten coming out and doing a couple. He introduced Connie Britton, who was backstage visiting. He sounded good and he did hang around backstage until after the show. Ricky Skaggs closed out the night, again doing bluegrass, with James Wesley and The Whites each doing 2 songs. James Wesley is young and does sound country, and The Whites, are well, The Whites. A nice job by all.

The Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree was hosted by The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, and they did a nice job. I would estimate about a hundred people there. It started on time and ended on time, with no special guests.

As far as a few other observations, Jimmy Dickens was again absent. He was on the schedule when it was released on Wednesday, but by Thursday he was off. The word is that he has been battling the flu. The Opry programs that were given away that night still had Jimmy listed on the schedule and a few people in the audience were disappointed that he was not on. That is something I don't quite get. I know they print about 10,000 programs each weekend, but you would think they would wait until later Thursday to do the printing and cutting down on the errors. That was just one of several mistakes in the program.

On Saturday night, Joe Edwards, formally of the Grand Ole Opry Staff Band was visiting backstage. He still looks great and was funny and in good spirits. He was going around talking to all the musicians and they all seemed to appreciate the time spent with him. I can't believe he has been gone from the Opry for over 10 years now.

Another interesting item is that they have added Mrs Grissoms as the sponsor on the opening segment on Saturday night, along with RCC Western Boots as a sponsor on Friday night, but in the programs and on the video screens, they do not put up the company logos or acknowledge them in any way. I guess since they are not a presenting or "proud sponsor" of the Opry, they don't get the star treatment. But the Mrs. Grissoms theme music has the audience clapping along, and I think in some cases, singing along. It was fun to hear. Also, the Low T Test Center is out as a sponsor, although they still run their commercials before the show starts.

As far as the Hall of Fame, no news. I asked a few people about when an announcement might be coming or if there were any ideas, and nothing. In fact, some artists were asking others if they knew anything. Talk about keeping it under a hat.

I will finish with a little editorial: I know that many of been complaining about the Opry and that it isn't what it once was. That is true. But the Opry is what it is, a mixture of new artists, legends and superstars. And everytime I go to the Opry, and this time was no exception, when that big red curtain goes up, it is still the greatest show in the world. While I would like to see more of the legends, the fact is there are not many left. While we can enjoy them while they are still here, we need to embrace the new artists who, if there is an Opry in the future, will be a part of the show. It is kind of funny but in the 1960s, people were complaining when Bob Luman became a member, saying he was too rock n' roll. Yet now we look back and wonder where the Bob Luman's of the world are. Take it back even further and Pee Wee King was thought of as being too progressive. What I would give to hear him sing "Tennessee Waltz" again. I guess what I am saying is that times change and the Opry will change. We need to support it and give it a chance. While in Nashville, I asked several people if they thought the Opry would make it to 100. That is only 13 years away. Everyone said yes, but they worried as to what form it would be. It is hard to think, but when that time comes, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Vince Gill, Lorrie Morgan and many of those, who we think as the younger Opry members, will be pushing 70!! We have to ask, who are gonna fill their shoes?

If you get a chance, go to the Opry. Attendance is up, the crowds are coming and the shows are pretty good. Especially when sitting in the Opry House.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 3/22 & 3/23

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the schedule for the 2 shows this weekend. There are a couple of headlines regarding the Opry for this weekend. First, Jimmy Dickens is on the schedule for both nights. This will be his first shows since December 2012 and I will be very interested in how he looks and sounds. I know he has been battling a cold and throat issues and I think he just wanted to get through winter before returning. The second headline is Opry member Alan Jackson will be returning to the Opry this weekend. Since joining the Opry, Alan has only appeared once or twice per year, so this might be it for him in 2013. I hope not, but we will see. Alan is promoting a new album, "Precious Memories-Vol 2", so I am sure that is one of the reasons he has scheduled an Opry appearance this weekend. Joining Alan on Friday night will be one of the Opry's newest members, the Oak Ridge Boys, along with frequent Opry guests Dailey & Vincent.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will feature the Opry debut of Kayla Sloan. Who is Kayla you might ask? She is the 21 year old singing Walmart cashier from West Virginia, who has become a sensation on Facebook and YouTube. She has received a lot of mention and the publicity has resulted in an invitation to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. Joining her on Saturday night will be the Marshall Tucker Band, who has made several Opry appearances, along with Charles Esten, from "Nashville." And on another note, Ricky Skaggs continues his strong string of Opry performances in 2013, as he is scheduled for both shows this weekend.

Friday March 22:
7:00: John Conlee (host); Connie Smith; Dailey & Vincent
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); George Hamilton IV; Oak Ridge Boys
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host);
8:45: Jeannie Seely (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Alan Jackson

Saturday March 23:
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Kristen Kelly; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Kayla Sloan; Jean Shepard; Marshall Tucker Band
8:15: John Conlee (host); Jan Howard; Charles Esten; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites

I would assume they are going to add a guest or two for Ricky's segment on Friday night. It doesn't make sense for him to do the entire half hour. I also would have thought that if you were going to have a segment with just one guest, it would have been with Alan Jackson. I would also assume an additional performer for Ricky's segment on Saturday night also.

For this week's look back in Grand Ole Opry history, I want to go back 33 years ago, as it was on Saturday night March 22, 1980 that Marion Worth made her final appearance as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Marion joined the Opry in 1963 and was a regular performer on the show up until her retirement. While she never had a #1 country hit, she did place 12 songs on the country charts along with 4 albums. She first hit the charts in 1959, and by the 1980s, her recording days had just about ended. Among her biggest hits was "Shake Me I Rattle", which she sang frequently on the Opry. After Marion left the Opry, she continued to perform, although her appearances decreased each year. She passed away on December 19, 1999 at the age of 69. Like so many others of her generation, she died of emphysema.

Here is the line-up from Saturday March 22, 1980, Marion Worth's final appearance as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. What is interesting about this show is that it was also the Grand Ole Opry's annual reunion show, or "Old-Timers" night as it was sometimes called.

1st show:
6:00: Vietti
Charlie Louvin (host): Will You Visit Me On Sundays
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Lonzo & Oscar: Rocky Top
Billy Grammer: Indian Love Call
Paul Howard: Stay A Little Longer
Charlie Louvin: Apartment No. 9

6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Roy Drusky (host): Second Hand Rose
Vic Willis: Faded Love/Maiden's Prayer
Del Wood: Down Yonder
Roy Drusky: Strangers

6:45: Rudy's
Justin Tubb (host): You Nearly Loss Your Mind
Jim & Jesse: Let Me Wisper
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong With the Way that We're Doing it Now

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Ole Slewfoot
Connie Smith: When I Need Jesus, He's There
Wilburn Brothers: It Looks Like the Sun's Gonna Shine
Zeke Clements: Just A Little Lovin/Why Should I Cry Over You/Smoke on the Water
Porter Wagoner: I've Enjoyed As Much of this As I Can Stand/Everything I've Always Wanted/Tennessee Saturday Night

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Ball Knob, Arkansas
Wilma Lee Cooper: Poor Ellen Smith
Sid Harkreader: Sally Goodin/Amazing Grace
Alcyone Beasley: Silver Threads Among the Gold/Little Shoes
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Layfayette
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

8:00: Martha White
Bill Monroe (host): Mule Skinner Blues
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry/Washed My Hands in Muddy Water
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down/Don't Sing Me No Songs About Texas
Bill Carlisle: Shanghai Rooster
Bill Monroe: Just A Little Talk With Jesus

8:30: Acme
Hank Snow (host): Hello, Love
4 Guys: Hangin On
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Curly Fox: The Old Gray Mule/Mockingbird
Duke of Paducah: Comedy
Hank Snow & Kelly Foxton: Stop Me From Loving You

2nd show
9:30: Kelloggs
Porter Wagoner (host): Sugarfoot Rag
Charlie Louvin: Who's Gonna Love Me Now
Lonzo & Oscar: Fox on the Run
Billy Grammer: Am I Blue
Skeeter Davis: It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
Porter Wagoner: A Satisfied Mind/I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name/Your Old Love Letters

10:00: Little Debbie
Jim & Jessie (host): Sleepy-Eyed John
Vic Willis: Beer-Barrel Polka
Del Wood: Keep on the Firing Line
Jim & Jesse: Paradise

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Justin Tubb: Lonesome 7-7203
Roy Drusky: Welcome Home
Roy Acuff: Lord, Don't Give Up On Me

10:30: Trailblazer
Bill Monroe (host): It's Mighty Dark For Me to Travel/Blue Moon of Kentucky
Connie Smith: Sing, Sing, Sing
Wilma Lee Cooper: The Legend of the Dogwood Tree
Bill Monroe: My Sweet Blue-Eyed Darling

10:45: Beechnut
Wilburn Brothers (host): Release Me
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Gray Eagle
Wilburn Brothers: The Light House/God Bless America Again

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): There's A Fool Such As I
Bill Carlisle: Same Ol' Tale that the Crow Told Me
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Duke of Paducah: Comedy
Kirk McGee: Railroad Blues
Hank Snow & Kelly Foxton: Hasn't It Been Good Togther

11:30: Budweiser
Stonewall Jackson (host): Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
4 Guys: Let Your Love Flow/Daddy's Little Cowboy
Marion Worth: Someone is Looking for Someone Like You
Curly Fox: Alabama Jubilee
Stonewall Jackson: Why I'm Walkin/Waterloo

Finally, it was on Saturday March 27, 1971 that Jan Howard joined the Grand Ole Opry. This week will be her 42nd year as an Opry member, although she has performed on the show for a much longer time as for several years she was part of Bill Anderson's show.

To remember Jan Howard's Opry anniversary, here is the line-up from Saturday March 27, 1971:

1st show:
6:30: Billy Walker (host); Ray Pillow; Del Wood
6:45: Jack Greene (host); Jeannie Seely;
7:00: Bill Monroe (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper; Ernie Ashworth; James Monroe; Bill Carlisle
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Grandpa Jones; Jan Howard; George Morgan; Crook Brothers
8:00: Roy Acuff (host); Loretta Lynn; Tex Ritter; Willis Brothers; Lonzo & Oscar
8:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Dolly Parton; Stringbean; Tom T Hall; Hank Locklin; Fruit Jar Drinkers

2nd show
9:30: Bill Anderson (host); Willis Brothers; Jan Howard; Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper; Ray Pillow
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Bill Carlisle; Del Wood
10:15: Billy Walker (host); Ernie Ashworth
10:30: Roy Acuff (host); Jack Greene; Jeannie Seely
10:45: Porter Wagoner (host); Dolly Parton; Stringbean; Crook Brothers
11:00: Tex Ritter (host); Loretta Lynn; Hank Locklin; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Sam McGee
11:30: Marty Robbins (host); Lonzo & Oscar; Ronnie Robbins

There you have it for this weekend. I will be in Nashville and at the Opry on Friday and Saturday night. I will have a full report and some observations next week. I am especially interested in the veterans and am looking forward to the weekend in Nashville.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Just Thinking.....

With the passing of another Grand Ole Opry legend in Jack Greene, it got me doing some thinking regarding the number of Opry legends we have recently lost. Over the last 10 years Johnny Paycheck, Bill Carlisle, Don Gibson, Skeeter Davis, Roy Drusky, Billy Walker, Del Reeves, Porter Wagoner, Charlie Walker, Ernie Ashworth, Hank Lockin, Charlie Louvin, Mel McDaniel, Billy Grammer, Wilma Lee Cooper and Jack Greene have all passed away. That comes out to 16 Opry members in that short time. 2011 was a particular brutal with 4 members passing away in a relatively short amount of time.

In that same 10 year span, the Opry has added 15 members, with Trace Adkins, Del McCoury, Terri Clark, Dierks Bentley, Mel Tillis, Josh Turner, Charlie Daniels, Carrie Underwood, Craig Morgan, Montgomery Gentry, Blake Shelton, Oak Ridge Boys, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban and Darius Rucker all joining the cast.

I have to ask the question, was the Opry better off before losing these legends, or is it better with the new members it has added?

When you look at who has passed away, with the exception of Don Gibson, all of those legends were pretty active members of the Opry. Johnny Paycheck, Skeeter Davis, Del Reeves, Mel McDaniel, Billy Grammer, Wilma Lee Cooper and Jack Greene had health issues toward the end of their lives that ended their Opry careers before their deaths. Roy Drusky, Ernie Ashworth and Hank Lockin were in semi-retirement. Bill Carlisle, Billy Walker, Porter Wagoner and Charlie Walker were active with the Opry right up until they died, while Charlie Louvin would have done the Opry more if someone had called.

Of those 15 who joined the Opry in the last decade, the most active member is Del McCoury. But then again, he is one of the veterans who understands what the Opry is all about. Of the others, Mel Tillis, Josh Turner, Charlie Daniels, Carrie Underwood, Craig Morgan and the Oak Ridge Boys give the Opry some appearances, while Trace Adkins, Terri Clark, Dierks Bentley, Montgomery Gentry and Rascal Flatts have given the show limited time. Blake Shelton has been a zero, while the jury is still out on Keith Urban and Darius Rucker.

So it goes back to my question, is the Opry better off with what we have?

My personal opinion is no. The Opry still needs to come up with a group of members who will support the show and stay with the show. I am particulary pleased with the increased appearances by Ricky Skaggs so far this year. But more members need to follow.

When you look at the Opry's membership, who knows how long Jimmy Dickens has left. Jean Shepard has had her health issues and Hal Ketchum has been unable to do the Opry for a number of years. Stonewall Jackson has had a few issues, as has Stu Phillips. And we have not even covered the Opry members over the age of 80 who are in pretty good health, such as Jan Howard, Bobby Osborne, Jimmy C Newman, Jesse McReynolds and Buck White.

As always, there is cause for concern. Like I said at the start, I was just thinking........

Friday, March 15, 2013

Jack Greene

Late last night we received the news that Grand Ole Opry legend Jack Greene had passed away. Jack has been battling Alzheimer's for a number of years, so while his passing was not a surprise, it was still a shock to hear. While Jack's last Opry appearance was in December 2011, his last public appearance was at his 83rd birthday party in January and he surprised those attending by performing and sharing the stage with Jeannie Seely, among others.

Jack Henry Greene was born in Maryville, Tennessee on January 7, 1930. He started in radio in 1947 on WGAP in Maryville. He was initially a singer-guitarist who played bass and drums in various groups, both in Eastern Tennessee and in Georgia with the Peachtree Cowboys. For a time he owned a downtown Atlanta club, the Covered Wagon, while working a day job for a glassmaker. He was working the Dixie Jubilee in East Point, Georgia when Ernest Tubb came through in late 1961, saw Jack play, and hired him six months later. For the next five years, he was the band's "big-eared singing drummer," as Ernest liked to call him.

He sang "The Last Letter" on the first Texas Troubadours album, and it was popular enough for Decca Records to issue it as a single and offer him his own recording contract in 1964. Jack's release of "There Goes My Everything" made him a star. The record topped Billboard's chart for seven weeks, and Ernest Tubb persuaded Greene to leave the band and build his own career in May 1967.

Between then and 1969 Greene was at the top of his career, scoring seven more Top Five country hits including "All the Time" "You Are My Treasure" "What Locks the Door" and the majestic "Statue of a Fool." At the first CMA Awards event in 1967, Jack was Single of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year, to become the CMA's first single-year multiple award winner. From 1969 through the mid-1970s Decca Records paired him and Jeannie Seely on a series of successful duets, the first and most popular of which was "Wish I Didn't Have to Miss You."

Jack Greene joined the Grand Ole Opry on December 23, 1967 and remained a loyal Opry member until his death. Even in the last appearance that I saw of Jack at the Opry,which was in October 2011, and while he had some trouble with the words, his voice was strong and solid. The audience gave him a standing ovation as he nailed, "There Goes My Everything" and "Statue of a Fool."

There are many who feel that Jack should be in the Country Music Hall of Fame. I will leave that to others to decide, but what I do know is that Jack Greene was one of the legends of country music and the Grand Ole Opry. And he was about the nicest man you would ever meet.

In memory of Jack Greene, here is the Grand Ole Opry line-up from December 23, 1967, the night Jack joined the Grand Ole Opry:

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Drusky (host): White Lightning Express
Jean Shepard: Happy Tracks
Willis Brothers: I'll Be Home for Christmas
Stu Phillips: Juanita Jones
Stringbean: Gonna Make Myself A Name
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharmon
Jeannie Seely: I'll Love You More
Opry Staff Band: Jingle Bell Rock
Roy Drusky: Weakness In A Man

8:00: Martha White
Porter Wagoner (host): Julie
Dottie West: Paper Mansions
Harold Weakley: Since Never
Osborne Brothers: Making Plans
Del Wood: Down at Papa Joe's
Crook Brothers: Bill Cheatham
George McCormick: The Branded Man
Mac Magaha & Buck Trent: Turkey in the Straw
Porter Wagoner: Green, Green Grass of Home

8:30: Stephens
Bobby Lord (host): Hawkeye
George Hamilton IV: Early Morning Rain
Ernie Ashworth: At Ease, Heart
Archie Campbell: Cockfight
Margie Bowes: There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight
Grandpa Jones: That's All This World Needs
Hal Rugg: Steel Guitar Rag
Bobby Lord: Winter Wonderland

9:00: Luzianne
Ernest Tubb (host): Thank's A Lot
Bill Monroe: Christmas Time's A Comin
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Loretta Lynn: What Kind of a Girl
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Devil's Dream
Ernest Tubb: Blue Christmas

9:30: Kelloggs
Hank Snow (host): Reindeer Boogie
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Lonzo and Oscar: Jangle Bells/Frosty the Snowman
4 Guys: White Christmas
Del Reeves: A Dime at a Time
Cousin Jody: Mockingbird
Harold Weakley: Paint A Picture of My World
Hank Snow: Christmas Wants

10:00: Schick
Bobby Lord (host): Shadows on the Wall
Jean Shepard: Many Happy Hangovers to You
Stringbean: Run Little Rabbit, Run
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips

10:15: Pure
Porter Wagoner (host): Ole Slewfoot
Grandpa Jones: Jingle Bells
Del Wood: Down Yonder
Porter Wagoner: Woman Hungry
Mac Magaha & Buck Trent: Katy Hill

10:30: Buckley's
George Hamilton IV (host): Truck Driving Man
Dottie West: Like a Fool
Cousin Jody: Wabash Cannonball
George Hamilton IV: Abilene

10:45: Kent
Ernest Tubb (host): In the Jailhouse Now
Margie Bowes: Enough To Make A Woman Lose Her Mind
Jack Greene: What Locks the Door
Crook Brothers: Sally Goodin

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Down the Trail of Aching Hearts
Skeeter Davis: Dear Heart
Del Reeves: Girl on the Billboard
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldiers Joy
Osborne Brothers: My Favorite Memory
Sam McGee: San Antonio Rose
Hank Snow: Christmas Roses
Chubby Wise: Lee Highway Blues

11:30: Lava
Marty Robbins (host): Tonight Carmen
Bill Monroe: Scotland
Bill Carlisle: What Kind of Deal is This
Loretta Lynn: The Third Man
Lonzo and Oscar: A King Size Cola & A Moon Pie
Bobby Sykes: I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
Marty Robbins: Ribbon of Darkness/Begging To You/Singing the Blues/Lovesick Blues/El Paso

The Grand Ole Opry spotlight will be shining a little less brighter tonight as we have lost another of our stars, but we all have the great memories of Jack Greene that will always stay with us.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 3/15 & 3/16

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend, which will mark the 39th anniversary of the Grand Ole Opry House. This week the Friday Night Opry will feature guest artists Joey + Rory, along with Exile. Frequent Opry guest Mandy Barnett is also scheduled, along with newcomer Rachel Farley, who will be making her Opry debut. She is another in the line of "hot new" female country artists and has been doing some dates with Florida Georgia Line and Montgomery Gentry. The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night will feature Opry member Charlie Daniels, along with Steven Curtis Chapman, Sarah Darling and Keith & Kristyn Getty. Steven Curtis Chapman is promoting a bluegrass album. Also scheduled both nights are Opry members Bill Anderson and Ricky Skaggs. Missing again is Jimmy Dickens.

Friday March 15:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Joey + Rory; Jimmy C Newman; Jesse McReynolds
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Exile
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Rachel Farley; Mike Snider
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jean Shepard; The Whites; Mandy Barnett

Saturday March 16:
7:00: Nashville Irish Step Dancers; Jim Ed Brown (host); Craig Campbell; Mike Snider; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Steven Curtis Chapman
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Sarah Darling; Keith & Kristyn Getty; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Charlie Daniels Band

As I noted last week, it was on March 9, 1974 that the last Grand Ole Opry show was held at the Ryman Auditorium. The final Friday Night Opry was held on March 15, 1974. So following the theme, it was 39 years ago this Saturday, March 16, 1974 that the new Grand Ole Opry House opened. As you would expect, it was a star-packed show that featured a visit from President Richard Nixon, who was the first President to visit the Opry. He appeared during the 1st show, which started at 6:30 and lasted until 10:15. The 2nd show started at 10:45 and finished up just prior to 2 a.m. While legend has it that just about every Grand Ole Opry member was there for the opening of the new Opry House, that is not quite true. Those that were missing included Bobby Bare, Archie Campbell, Bill Carlisle, Lester Flatt, Tom T Hall (who would later say he quit the night they left the Ryman), David Houston, George Jones, Bob Luman, Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Billy Walker and Tammy Wynette. Tom T was actually scheduled but didn't show, while Hank Locklin, Lonzo and Oscar, Jean Shepard and the Willis Brothers were on just the first show and Marty Robbins did just his usual 2nd show.

Speaking of the 1st show, the artists appeared more or less in alphabetical order, with Roy Acuff coming out first. That was followed by the entire cast coming out and then the show was underway. The commercials were still played, although there were no real Opry segments. The 2nd show tried to go the same way, but a few of the artists got out of line.

The first show started with the picture of George D Hayf from the 1940 "Grand Ole Opry' movie. His voice came through saying, "First, we're gonna hear from Roy Acuff and his Smoky Mountain Boys. Smoke it up, Roy!" Then on the screen was the young Roy Acuff, starting to sing "Wabash Cannonball". The screen slowly rose and there in front of the audience was the real Roy Acuff and his Smoky Mountain Boys, picking up the song perfectly. The crowd rose to a standing ovation as the entire cast of the Opry came out to join Roy. He made a few comments and the cast sang, "You Are My Sunshine" and the show was off and running. The President arrived around 7 and went up to the balcony to their seats. About a half hour later, Roy Acuff asked the Presidential party if they wished to join them on stage, which of course they did. The President stayed about 1 hour at the Opry.

I have printed this before, but I know there are many new readers to the blog. So for that reason, here is the running order of the 2 shows from Saturday March 16, 1974, the opening of the new Grand Ole Opry House.

1st show:
Roy Acuff: Wabash Cannonball
Roy Acuff and Everyone: You Are My Sunshine
Howdy Forrester/ Ralph Sloan and the Tennessee Travelers: Squaredance
Bill Anderson: Po' Folks'
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Jim Ed Brown: Morning
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Big Midnight Special
Roy Drusky: Satisfied Mind
Jerry Clower: Marchelle's Talking Chain Saw
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Black Mountain Rag
Billy Grammer: Gotta Travel On
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Jeannie Seely: Don't Touch Me
Jack Greene & Jeannie Seely: Wish I Didn't Have to Miss You
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Richard Nixon and Everyone: Happy Birthday Mrs. Nixon
Richard Nixon: My Wild Irish Rose
Roy Acuff and Everyone: Stay A Little Longer
Everyone: God Bless America
Jan Howard: My Kind of People
Fruit Jar Drinkers/Tennessee Travelers: Sally Goodin
Jim & Jesse: Freight Train
Grandpa Jones: Are You From Dixie
Hank Locklin: Danny Boy
Lonzo & Oscar: Traces of Life
Bobby Lord: Live Your Life Out Loud
Charlie Louvin: D. McCall: American Trilogy
George Morgan: you Turn Me On
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Stu Phillips: There Must Be Another Way to Say Goodbye
Ray Pillow: Countryfried
Del Reeves: Lay A Little Lovin On Me
Jean Shepard: Second Fiddle
Hank Snow: I'm Moving On
Connie Smith: How Great Thou Art
4 Guys: Cottonfields/Maria
Ernest Tubb: Walking The Floor Over You
Minnie Pearl: Jealous Hearted Me
Justin Tubb: Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Dottie West: Country Sunshine
Wilburn Brothers: Arkansas
Del Wood: Down Yonder
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Marion Worth: Delta Dawn
Sam McGee: San Antonio Rose
Porter Wagoner: I've Never Seen So Many Happy Faces
Dolly Parton: Jolene
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: The Right Combination

2nd show:
Roy Acuff: Back in the Country
Howdy Forrester: Eighth of January
Minnie Pearl: Comedy
Bill Anderson: A World of Make Believe
Ernie Ashworth: Honky-Tonk Hardwood Floor
Jim Ed Brown: The Three Bells
Ernest Tubb: Waltz Across Texas
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Little Darling Pal of Mine
Roy Drusky: Don't It Make You Want to Go Home
Crook Brothers: Liberty
Billy Grammer: Somewhere My Love
Jack Greene: Statue of A Fool
Jeannie Seely: Can I Sleep In Your Arms Tonight, Mister
Jack Greene & Jeannie Seely: What in the World Has Gone Wrong With Our Love
Porter Wagoner: I've Never Seen So Many Happy Faces
Dolly Parton: Jolene
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: The Right Combination
Jan Howard: Sunshine on My Shoulders
Stonewall Jackson: Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
Jim & Jesse: Paradise
Grandpa Jones: Heading South With Nashville On My Mind
Connie Smith: Dallas
Bobby Lord: Mississippi
Charlie Louvin: You're My Wife, She's My Woman
Jerry Clower: The Last Piece of Chicken
George Morgan: Red Rose From the Blue Side of Town
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Jimmy C Newman: Potato Song
Osborne Brothers: Ruby
Stu Phillips: There Must Be Another Way to Say Goodbye
Ray Pillow: Countryfried
Del Reeves: Lay A Little Lovin On Me
Sam & Kirk McGee: Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms
Hank Snow: There's A Fool Such As I
4 Guys: Let Me Be There
Justin Tubb: Rambling Man
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharmin
Dottie West: Country Sunshine
Wilburn Brothers: Knoxville Girl
Del Wood: There's A Big Wheel
Marion Worth: Me & Bobby McGee
Marty Robbins: Devil Woman
Ronnie Robbins: Mama Tried
Marty Robbins: I'm Wanting To/Big Boss Man/Singing the Blues

There are a couple of great stories from that opening night, courtesy of Bill Anderson. The first one is that when President Nixon was finished and left the building, the next artist scheduled was Jan Howard. As she said on stage, "I've had some tough acts to follow in my career, but I wouldn't give this spot to a dry cleaner." And the 2nd is that he asked Ernest Tubb what he thought of the President coming to the Opry and Ernest answered, "I just wished it'd been a different President." There were also unconfirmed stories that the reason Bill Monroe wasn't there was because of the President, not that it was Richard Nixon personally, but that because he was from the wrong political party!!

Next weekend I will be headed to Nashville and a weekend at the Opry that will feature Opry member Alan Jackson, who will be making his once a year appearance on the Opry.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 3/8 & 3/9

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the weekend shows. The Friday Night Opry will feature Opry member and Hall of Famer, Mel Tillis, along with guest artists Carolyn Dawn Johnson and The Isaacs. Also appearing will be non-Opry member, but frequent Opry guest Jimmy Wayne, along with Zac Brown Band's John Driskell Hopkins and the bluegrass group Balsam Range.

The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night will feature Opry members Diamond Rio, along with the Annie Moses Band, who were very impressive in the Opry debut several months back. Also Ashley Monroe and Brett Eldredge will be appearing.

Friday March 8:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host): Carolyn Dawn Johnson; Jimmy Wayne
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host): Jan Howard; George Hamilton IV; The Isaacs
8:15: Bill Anderson (host): The Whites; John Driskell Hopkins & Balsam Range
8:45: Mel Tillis (host): Jason Crabb; Del McCoury Band

Saturday March 9
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host): Brett Eldredge; Jean Shepard
7:30: Mike Snider (host): Connie Smith; Annie Moses Band
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host): Jimmy C Newman; Ashley Monroe; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host): Jesse McReynolds; Diamond Rio

Ralph Stanley was originally on the Opry schedule for both shows this weekend, but has cancelled and Jimmy Dickins is still among the missing.

For this week's look back at Grand Ole Opry history, it was 39 years ago this Saturday night, March 9, 1974 that the Grand Ole Opry held their final Saturday night performance at the Ryman Auditorium. The Opry would do its final show at the Ryman the following Friday night, before moving to the new Grand Ole Opry House the following night. Most of the Opry's members were glad to be leaving the old building, but it was an emotional night with a lot of memories.

Among those were Minnie Pearl, who said, "The night we left, the last night we played at the Ryman. I was crying. I was so sentimental about the old building. I never felt that way about the War Memorial, and that's where I started on the Opry. But we had thirty years or more at the Ryman and it had so much ambiance. The church pews, the haze of hair spray in that ladies' room, Henry leaving me out of the car in the alley and me running up those cement steps to the stage door, the people out front-."

Jan Howard said, "That last night was a very sacred moment. But I'm glad we left. Listen, when you see people pass out in front of you because of the heat, and you're performing on a stage that's a hundred ten degrees, and there's no air, yes, I'm glad we moved. But it still was a reverent moment that night, almost like being in church. You knew it was history and you were a part of it."

Jeannie Pruett added, "Marty Robbins and I did the last show, the 11:30 segment. I can remember when that curtain came down, well, we were going from what we knew and loved and held dear, to the unknown. And I just wondered to myself if it was the end of the Opry, or was it the beginning."

Roy Acuff had the final word. "Certainly there are memories of this old house that will go with us forever. Not all of them good. Not all of them. Many of them are, but some of them are punishment. Punishment is the way that we ask you to come to visit with us and then we sit you out in the audience here and in the hot summer we sell you a fan for a dollar. You do your own air conditioning. And some of you, we sell you a cushion to sit on because the seats are not just the most comfortable they can be. But out in Opryland, when you come to see us, we'll furnish the air conditioner. We'll furnish the cushion seats. You just don't know how much we do appreciate you people. It's you who have made the Grand Ole Opry so successful. Will you not forget us when we move into our new building? You'll love us for being out there and we'll love you for coming to see us. Thank you. God bless you all. Good night."

There is no doubt that the Opry had to move out of the Ryman Auditorium. In addition to the building, the downtown area of Nashville and Lower Broadway had become unsafe and unfriendly. It would be almost 20 years until the area became what it is today and the funding was available to renovate the Ryman.

To look back and remember the final Grand Ole Opry show from the Ryman Auditorium, here is the running order of the 2 shows from March 9, 1974:

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Willis Brothers (host): Give Me 40 Acres
Stu Phillips: There Must Be Another Way To Say Goodbye
Willis Brothers: Cool Water

6:45: Rudy's
Bobby Bare (host): Detroit City
Connie Smith: How Great Thou Art
Ernie Ashworth: Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor
Bobby Bare: The Mermaids

7:00: Shoney's
Billy Grammer (host): Under the Double Eagle/Black Mountain Rag/Wildwood Flower
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Nine Pound Hammer
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Billy Grammer, Jr: Orange Blossom Special
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: To My Mansion in the Sky
Bill Carlisle: I'm Moving

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jeanne Pruett: You Don't Need to Move A Mountain
Lonzo & Oscar: Charming Betsy
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Ida Red
Roy Acuff: Back in the Country
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets

8:00: Martha White
Wilburn Brothers (host): Roll, Muddy River
Justin Tubb: Rambling Man
Jody Miller: Good News
Jerry Clower: Comedy
Wilburn Brothers: Knoxville Girl
Justin Tubb: Texas Dance Hall Girl
Jody Miller: Let's All Go Down to the River

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
4 Guys: Let Me Be There
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Hank Snow: Brand On My Heart
Jan Howard: Sunshine On My Shoulders
4 Guys: Top of the World
Hank Snow: Hello Love

2nd show
9:30: Kelloggs
Bobby Bare (host): Come Sundown
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Philadelphia Lawyer
Bobby Bare: Blowing In The Wind/Worried Man Blues/Gotta Travel On
Willis Brothers: Maiden's Prayer
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: I Shall Not Be Moved
Bobby Bare & Bobby Bare, Jr: Daddy, What If

10:00: Fender
Stu Phillips (host): Pride
Jody Miller: Darling, You Can Always Come Back Home
Bill Carlisle: Little Liza Jane
Stu Phillips: There Must Be Another Way to Say Goodbye

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): When I Lay My Burdens Down
Minnie Pearl: Jealous Hearted Me

10:30: Trailblazer
Wilburn Brothers (host): It Looks Like the Sun's Gonna Shine
Lonzo & Oscar: Traces of Life
Wilburn Brothers: God Bless America Again

10:45: Beechnut
Billy Grammer (host): Gotta Travel On
Jerry Clower: The Coon Hunt
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Liberty
Billy Grammer: How Great Thou Art

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): In The Misty Moonlight
Jan Howard: Where No One Stands Alone
4 Guys: Streaking With My Baby On A Bright & Sunny Sunday Afternoon
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Tanya Tucker: Delta Dawn
Sam McGee: Freight Train/Victor Rag/I Don't Love Nobody
Hank Snow: I Don't Hurt Anymore

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): I Walk Alone
Jeanne Pruett: You Don't Need to Move A Mountain/Satin Sheets
Justin Tubb: Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
Marty Robbins: Don't Worry/Big Boss Man/I'm Wanting To/Rollin In My Sweet Baby's Arms/Love Me/Now Is The Hour

Every time I look at this line-up for the final Saturday night at the Ryman, I am struck by the number of Opry stars missing. Folks such as Bill Monroe, Ernest Tubb, Bill Anderson, Porter Wagoner, Osborne Brothers, Jim & Jesse, Loretta Lynn, Jack Green, Del Wood, George Morgan and Grandpa Jones among so many others. For the final night at the building and knowing how much the Opry influenced the careers of many of these artists, I would have thought more would have been there that night. A few others did do the final Friday Night Opry the following week, but I would have expected more there that Saturday night.

Finally, could the Hall of Fame announcement be coming soon? Stay close my friends.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Jim & Jesse McReynolds

It was on March 2, 1964 that Jim & Jesse became members of the Grand Ole Opry. While Jim McReynolds passed away on December 31, 2002, Jesse has continued on as an Opry member. Today is his 49th year as a member.

Jim and Jesse were born in Carfax, Virginia and raised in the hill country of Appalachian Virginia. Their father and grandfather were fiddlers and music was a big part of their lives. The brothers began performing as the McReynolds Brothers, moving around to various radio stations throughout the Southeast and Midwest. The first recorded as the Virginia Trio for Kentucky Records in 1951. By the time of their first sessions for Capital Records in 1952, Jesse was already experimenting with his cross-picking style, which he describes as "a backwards roll, like the technique used in banjo playing." At this time, they began calling themselves Jim & Jesse and their band the Virginia Boys.

In the 1950s Jim & Jesse appeared on a number of radio barn dancers, including the WDVA Barn Dance in Danville, Virginia, the Midday Merry Go-Round on WNOX in Knoxville, the WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, West Virginia, and the Suwanee River Jamboree on WNER in Live Oak, Florida. Beginning in the mid-1950s they also had their own local television shows in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, which were picked up by sponsor Martha White in 1960 and expanded to include other markets. In 1960 Jim & Jesse began to record for Epic Records, and their first two albums, "Bluegrass Special" and "Bluegrass Classics" with Allen Shelton on banjo, Don McHan on guitar and harmony vocals, and David Sutherland on bass, are considered to be the most definitive of their style and talents.

In 1964, the year they joined the Grand Ole Opry, "Cotton Mill Man" became Jim & Jesse's first record on the country charts, and "Diesel on My Tail", their most commercially successful single, reached the country Top Twenty in 1967. Starting in the 1970s, most of their recordings were on their own Double J label. From the mid 1960s into the 1970s Jim & Jesse had a popular, syndicated TV program; on it their music included electric guitars and steel guitars instead of traditional acoustic bluegrass instrumentation.

The duo consistently made the country charts on a regular basis from the 1960s into the 1980s and their hits included "Paradise", "Better Times A-Coming", "Ballad of Thunder Road". "Freight Train" and "North Wind". In 1993 Jim & Jesse were elected into the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Honor.

Jim McReynolds passed away on December 31, 2002 after a long illness. Since that time, Jesse has continued on alone, continuing the McReynolds sound while also striking out on his own. His latest album was a tribute to the Grateful Dead, that Jesse said was his best selling album. Jesse is also considered one of the most innovative and prolific mandolin players around today. He continues to record and tour with a new group of Virginia Boys, that at times have included his grandchildren.

Jesse remembered the first time they were on the Opry. "The first time we were on the Opry we thought, 'Gosh, think of all the people who've been here.' I see all these young people come in now and just stand downstairs where so many big stars have been throughout the years. We were the same way, never dreamed we'd ever get to the Grand Ole Opry.

To honor Jesse McReynolds, and to remember Jim McReynolds, here is the line-up from the Grand Ole Opry on March 7, 1964, their first appearance as members of the Grand Ole Opry.

7:30: Luzianne
Jimmy Newman (host): Alligator Man
Wilburn Brothers: (?)
Marion Worth: You Took Him Off My Hands
Stringbean: Little Pink
Jimmy Newman: DJ For A Day
Del Wood: Waiting for the Robert E Lee
Merle Kilgore: (?)
Wilburn Brothers: (?)
Jimmy Newman: Six Days on the Road

8:00: Martha White
Flatt & Scruggs (host): (?)
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Glaser Brothers: (?)
Ernest Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Flatt & Scruggs: (?)
Ray Pillow: (?)
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Flatt & Scruggs: (?)

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Low & Lonely
June Stearns: (?)
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Each Season Changes You
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Roy Acuff: The End of the World
Hank Williams, Jr: Long Gone Lonesome Blues
Brother Oswald: My Curly Headed Baby
Howdy Forrester: Soldier's Joy
Roy Acuff: Mother's Only Sleeping

9:00: Pet Milk
Ernest Tubb (host): (?)
Jean Shepard: (?)
Billy Walker: Forever
Jim & Jesse: (?)
Ernest Tubb (?)
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Ida Red
Cousin Jody: I Suffered More Then You'll Ever Know
Jean Shepard: (?)
Ernest Tubb: (?)

9:30: Kelloggs
Leroy Van Dyke (host): (?)
Carter Family: (?)
The Browns: (?)
Willis Brothers: Big Daddy
Leroy Van Dyke: (?)
Dottie West: (?)
The Carter Family: (?)
The Browns: (?)
Leroy Van Dyke: (?)

10:00: Shick
Wilburn Brothers (host): (?)
Jimmy Newman: The Mover
Stringbean: (?)
Wilburn Brothers: (?)

10:15: SSS Tonic
Flatt & Scruggs (host): (?)
Marion Worth: He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
Del Wood: Quennie of the Town
Flatt & Scruggs: (?)

10:30: Harveys
Roy Acuff (host): (?)
Skeeter Davis: He Says the Same Things to Me
Ernest Ashworth: A Week in the County Jail
Roy Acuff: (?)
Howdy Forrester & Jimmy Riddle: Black Mountain Rag

10:45: Ford
Ernest Tubb (host): (?)
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: I Wanna Be Loved
Crook Brothers: Lafayette
Ernest Tubb: (?)
Stoney Cooper: Fiddle Tune

11:00: Coca-Cola
Leroy Van Dyke (host): (?)
Jean Shepard: (?)
Billy Walker: Charlie's Shoes
Glaser Brothers: (?)
Leroy Van Dyke: (?)
Hank Williams, Jr: Cold, Cold Heart
Sam McGee: Dear Old Southern Home
Glaser Brothers: (?)
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Leroy Van Dyke: (?)

11:30: Gretsch Guitars
Marty Robbins (host): (?)
The Browns: (?)
Willis Brothers: Private Lee
Jim & Jesse: (?)
Marty Robbins: (?)
Cousin Jody: Cripple Creek
Don Winters: (?)
Willis Brothers: Everlovin Dixieland
Marty Robbins: (?)

A couple of notes on this particular night. Ernest Ashworth was also a new member of the Grand Ole Opry on this night. This has happened a couple of times in the Opry's history, when 2 new members joined the same night. Connie Smith and Bob Luman were two others. Also Ray Pillow was on this show, but he was a guest artist and not a member as of yet.

Again, congratulations to Jesse McReynolds for 49 years of Opry membership.

Friday, March 1, 2013

March Opry Highlights

Another month has passed and it is time to review the important and historical events that have taken place in Grand Ole Opry history during the month of March. Along with June and October, March has been one of the busier months in the history of the Opry.

March 31, 1934: Grand Ole Opry regular Kitty Cora Cline ended her Opry career. She was the first female solist at the Opry. The story goes that she was headed to the Opry to do the show and observed a very serious accident that bothered her so much that she refused to travel in a car again.

March 16, 1946: Grandpa Jones performed for the first time on the Grand Ole Opry.

March 22, 1952: Uncle Dave Macon, one of the early stars in the history of the Opry, passed away at the age of 82. Even with his advanced age, Uncle Dave continued to perform reguarly on the Opry, making his last appearance on March 1, 1952, just 2 weeks before he died. He would later be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

March 21, 1953: Bill Carlisle and the Carlisles made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Bill Carlisle would quickly become an Opry member and would remain with the Opry until his death in 2003.

March 2, 1963: Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins make their final Grand Ole Opry apperarance.

March 9, 1963: During the Opry's performance that night, the Grand Ole Opry paid tribute to Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, Randy Hughes and Hawkshaw Hawkins, who died in a plane crash earlier in the week. They died on March 5 when the plane in which they were returning to Nashville in crashed near Camden, Tennessee. The Opry also remembered Jack Anglin, who was part of the duo Johnny and Jack, who had passed away while on his way to the service for Patsy Cline. Opry manager Ott Devine read the tribute. "All of their friends standing with me tonight on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium know that it is impossible to put into words our thoughts, our feelings, our love for Patsy, Hank, Cope, Jack and Randy. And so we ask that you in our audience please stand and join us for a moment of silent prayer in tribute to them."

March 29, 1963: Texas Ruby Owens dies in a fire at her home. Along with her husband Curly Fox, she came to the Opry in the 1940s. After her death, Curly would continue to play the Opry.

March 2, 1964: Jim and Jesse McReynolds join the Grand Ole Opry. They would actually make their first appearance as Opry members the following Saturday night, March 7. They would continue as Opry members until the death of Jim McReynolds on December 31, 2002, after which Jesse would continue on with the Virginia Boys. Jesse still performs on the Opry, usually along with a few of his grandchildren. This will be Jesse's 49th year as an Opry member.

March 7, 1964: Ernie Ashworth becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. In 1963, he had the #1 hit, "Talk Back Tembling Lips", which was on the charts for 42 weeks. In his long career in country music, he would never equal that success. Ernie remained an Opry member until he passed away on March 2, 2009.

March 28, 1964: Connie Smith makes her first appearance at the Opry. She was a backstage guest of Bill Anderson. She also visited the Ernest Tubb Record Shop that night. Later in the year, Chet Atkins would sign her to a contract with RCA Records and the rest is history. Connie would join the Opry a year later after having her #1 hit, "Once A Day." In 2012, she was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

March 15, 1968: The Byrds make an appearance on the Opry. They performed Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowwhere" and "Hickory Wind." It was reported that they received a lukewarm reception.

March 28, 1970: After undergoing a heart bypass operation on January 27, 1970, Marty Robbins returned to the Opry, hosting a he usually did, the 11:30 segment. Reporter Jerry Thompson was there and wrote, "The sound from the jam-packed crowd was deafening. They couldn't hear the words to the song that familiar figure behind the Opry mic was crooning, but there was no mistake. Marty Robbins was back where he belonged. Midway through the show, Robbins sat at the piano and told the audience, 'I had so many things I was going to say tonight. I want to thank all my friends for their concern and I want to thank God for letting me be there. Now, I can't think of anything to say, so I guess I'll have to sing for you.' And sing he did until 12:27 a.m. when the curtain closed amidst repeated shouts of 'More, more, more."

March 27, 1971: Jan Howard becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. In a few places the date is listed as March 17, but the 27th date seems the valid one. This will be here 42nd year as an Opry member. Jan was a frequent guest on the Opry prior to becoming a member, and in fact, she was on so many times that many thought she already was. Opry General Manager Bud Wendell was one of those. When he realized she wasn't, he immediately corrected the over sight. On an additional note, on March 13 Jan will be celebrating her 83rd birthday.

March 9, 1974: The Opry conducts its final Saturday night show at the Ryman Auditorium. The Ryman had been the Opry's home since 1943.

March 15, 1974: The final Friday Night Opry takes place at the Ryman Auditorium. The final segment that night was hosted by George Morgan and he concluded his segment by singing his hit song, "Candy Kisses." After the Opry, Rev. Jimmy Snow, son of Hank Snow, hosted "Grand Ole Gospel Time" with special guests Johnny Cash, June Carter, The Carter Family, and his father Hank. The show concluded with the singing of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken."

March 16, 1974: The new Grand Ole Opry House opens, with a special appearance by President Richard Nixon, who was the first President to appear at the Opry. There was much discussion on who would be the first artist to perform at the new Opry House, and since the Opry's management decided to have each performer appear in alphabetical order, Roy Acuff was the first. And Roy was fine with that and in fact had said, "I've made my request that if I'm still here when the Opry House opens, they let me be the first one to go on the stage. I jsut want to open the curtain and sing tow songs. Then they can have it." After Roy's appearance, Bill Anderson was next and the show went from there. On an additional note, there was much discussion on who was to introduce the President, but President Nixon quickly settled the debate by saying, "Roy will do it." And Roy did.

March 15, 1975: Just one year after the new Opry House opened, the Cumberland River floods the area around the Opry House forcing the Opry to move the show to the Municipal Auditorium in downtown Nashville. Although the Opry House was not damaged, the parking lots in the area were flooded. The Opry was unable to return to the Ryman because the building was deemed as unsafe. The Cumberland River would flood again in 2010, but that time the Opry House sustained heavy damage. This show was also the annual old-timers night.

March 4, 1978: For the 1st time in the Opry's history, an entire Opry show was televised. PBS approached Opry officials to see if there was an interest in televising the show as part of their annual fundraising campaign. The Opry agreed and it was considered such as success that PBS would do it again for the next 3 years. The Opry did have to make a few changes for the show, including removing all references to their commercial sponsors. That included covering the sponsor's logos that appeared above the Opry stage. What made these PBS shows so special, besides the quality of the line-ups, was the fact that they did not change the show at all. The format stayed the same, although several of the performers dressed up a bit more than usual.

March 10, 1979: James Brown performed on the Opry. He was invited by Porter Wagoner and his appearance caused much controversy. Many of the Opry's members refused to welcome him to the Opry and several boycotted the show. Remember that this was 1979 and in the South.

March 22, 1980: This was the final Opry show for Opry member Marion Worth. She had joined the Opry in 1963. While she didn't have a spectacular career in country music, she was a popular member of the Opry. She passed away on December 19, 1999.

March 28, 1980: Tom T Hall rejoined the Grand Ole Opry. Tom T had quit the Opry in 1974 when the show moved from the Ryman Auditorium to the new Opry House. It has been reported that Ernest Tubb saw Tom T in the parking lot at a show and told him he needed to come back to the Opry. He did and for most of the 1980s was a regular performer on the show. He has not been back to the Opry for many, many years.

March 1, 1982: Grand Ole Opry member Roy Acuff was honored with a two-hour special that was televised on NBC. An all-star cast of performers and politicians honored Roy, including President Ronald Reagan, Vice-President George Bush, Minnie Pearl, Tom T Hall, Bill Anderson, Chet Atkins, Charlie Daniels and Gene Autry. Among those scheduled to appear but missing due to illness were Dottie West and Johnny Cash.

March 7, 1983: The Nashville Network made its debut. This network would later become home for the Grand Ole Opry as a half hour of the show was televised each Saturday night, giving many fans the first opportunity to see a portion of the show.

March 3 1984: The Whites become members of the Grand Ole Opry. This popular group, who usually performs on any segment hosted by Ricky Skaggs, will be celebrating their 29th year as Opry members.

March 13, 1999: Trisha Yearwood joins the Grand Ole Opry. This will be her 14th year as an Opry member, which just about equals the number of appearances that she has made since becoming an Opry member. Prior to joining, she was quoted as saying how much she wanted to become an Opry member and like many others, promised to support the show and appear whenever she could. And sorry to say, like so many others of her generation, that promise has gone by the wayside.

March 17, 2003: Country Music Hall of Fame member Bill Carlise passed away at the age of 95. He had suffered a stroke earlier in the week. Despite numerous health issues over the last several decades of his life, Bill would continue to perform on the Opry right up until his death.

March 15, 2008: Carrie Underwood is invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Opry member Randy Travis made a surprise appearance during Carrie's Opry performance that evening, which was televised by GAC. She would formally become an Opry member on May 10, 2008.

March 8, 2009: Grand Ole Opry member Hank Locklin passed away at the age of 91. At the time of his death, he was the Opry's oldest living member. He joined the Opry in 1960.

March 1, 2011: It was announced that Grand Ole Opry members Reba McEntire and Jean Shepard were elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Many had felt that Jean should have been elected to the Hall of Fame many years ago, and it was a well deserved honor for this long time Opry member.

March 6, 2012: It was announced that Opry members Connie Smith and Garth Brooks had been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.