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:
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
Bobby Bare (host): Detroit City
Connie Smith: How Great Thou Art
Ernie Ashworth: Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor
Bobby Bare: The Mermaids
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
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
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
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
Wilburn Brothers (host): It Looks Like the Sun's Gonna Shine
Lonzo & Oscar: Traces of Life
Wilburn Brothers: God Bless America Again
Billy Grammer (host): Gotta Travel On
Jerry Clower: The Coon Hunt
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Liberty
Billy Grammer: How Great Thou Art
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.