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.


  1. Fred, Bismarck:

    Indeed, all those big names missing! I wonder if the Last Night was named far enough in advance for everyone to have scheduled for it. Could it be some stayed away deliberately from an occasion that would have been too sad for them to handle?

    We're running out of people to ask questions like this, aren't we?

  2. I counted 22 members, or just over 1/3. But if you add in the following Friday, a lot of them did come back for the last couple of shows.

  3. For what it is worth, here is the Friday Night Opry line-up from March 15, 1974, that last show at the Ryman. (There are souvenir programs that were sold at one time at the Opry of the final Friday Night show, but those feature the announced line-up and are a replica of what was sold that night. This is the actual running order of the show, which is slightly different)

    7:00: Roy Drusky (host); Del Reeves; Jan Howard; Charlie Walker
    7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Bob Luman; Jim & Jesse; Mary Lou Turner
    8:00: Archie Campbell (host); Bobby Bare; Dottie West; Justin Tubb; Phil Campbell
    8:30: Roy Acuff (host); Jean Shepard; Stonewall Jackson; Minnie Pearl; Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper
    9:00: Wilburn Brothers (host); Osborne Brothers; Jeanne Pruett; Del Wood
    9:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Hank Locklin; Grandpa Jones; Bill Carlisle; Cates Sisters
    10:00: Billy Walker (host); Charlie Louvin; Willis Brothers; Stu Phillips;
    10:30: George Morgan (host); 4 Guys; Ray Pillow; Lonzo & Oscar; Ernie Ashworth

  4. Byron, if my memory serves, that was an unusually long Friday Night Opry--usually they ran three hours. I count 33 members plus acts that worked with members.

  5. The Isaacs are getting popular at the Opry. I don't mind I like them a lot.

    Byron: I just read that Claude King (1923-2013), of "Wolverton Mountain" fame has passed away. I know very little on Mr. King, and have not scene much of him in the Country community in my lifetime. Did he ever do the Opry much?

  6. I've seen Claude King's name on older Opry lineups but I can't recall a time recently when he performed on the show. I have a photo of him, Jack Greene and Connie from a fairly recent backstage visit, though.

  7. Some of you all might be interested in a coffee table sized picture book that traces those last few weeks at the Ryman. It's title is "Historic Photos of the Opry: Ryman 1974." I know the Ernest Tubb Record Shop carries it, but it's a bit pricy.

  8. Fred, Bismarck:

    I saw Claude King once just by happy accident, in 1979 or 1980.

    The Bismarck Rural Firemen had booked Ferlin Husky and Charlie Louvin as a fundraiser, their first. This fundraiser has since become a successful annual event, but back then nobody knew what he was doing, and Ferlin and Charlie played to about 100 people. (Size of the crowd made no difference, each put on a fantastic set.)

    It so happened Claude was playing a date in a night club just across the river, in Mandan, and in between sets over there he dropped in on Ferlin and Charlie, just to say howdy. (As I remember, it was on Charlie's set.) How he had learned of their show I don't know. Anyway, a delighted Charlie called him out of the audience and had him sing 2 or 3 songs, of which one, of course, was the great "Wolverton."

    I think it's a nice example of the collegiality that prevailed among our oldtimers. I can imagine it was quite a treat for them to run unexpectedly into a buddy on the long, long trail that reached into places like North Dakota in the middle of the winter!

  9. Mike, you are right about the final Friday Night Opry. It ran about a half hour over, to 11:30. That final Saturday night ran way over also and Marty Robbins closing it out added to it.

    I never saw Claude King perform. He really never made it up to Ohio, at least not that I know of. Barry, I have seen the same photo of him visiting backstage, and in fact, I thought I saw several photos yesterday, showing him with various Opry stars including Jimmy C Newman among others. Not sure how many times he did the Opry, but I have got to believe during the peak of his career, he made some appearances.

    David, you are right about The Isaacs. They seem to be on Pete Fisher's short list of who to call when a line-up needs filled out. I would prefer them over Jimmy Wayne. Unless Jimmy has another hit, he is getting a little repetitive on the Opry. His songs are starting to sound old after a while.

  10. Without the information in front of me I'm guessing but Claude was on the Opry maybe a year and half ago. He was backstage and Bill Anderson brought him out unscheduled and I think he only did Wolverton Mountain. He still sounded good. There is a Bear box out on him and I'm thinking it is knew. Maybe that is why he was in town.

    If anyone wants to know exactly when it was Byron should have it and I know I can find it my unorganized mess!

    Knightsville, IN

  11. Correction on the Claude King box set....released in 1994!

    Knightsville, IN

  12. Fred, Bismarck:

    Ditto on Jimmy Wayne, Byron. I heard him when I tuned in on the Saturday night following the Shelton dustup. To me, he is a poster child for everything that is wrong with what passes for country today, including his indistinguishability (new word?) to the ear from so many others out there. Ugh! If putting up with his likes is the price of making the Opry relevant to the younger set, the show has simply outlived its time.

  13. Fred:

    You know I love the Opry, as a fan, it has been so much a part of my life. However, maybe it has outlived its time. I often think of Hank Snow retiring before his performances got too bad and he might be remembered as an old "fart" (Blake still echos in my head)who couldn't sing. I just hate the thought but it occurs to me often that the Opry should end with some dignity and grace. If they want to continue a show at the Opry House call it Today's Country or the Next Best Thing in Country or something. I would really miss it and we should watch what we wish for but it IS frustrating.

    Knightsville, IN

  14. Somewhere in a box, hopefully in reasonalby good condition (though after nearly 40 years I'm not hopeful) is a tape with bits of pieces of that final Saturday night broadcast. The Willis Brothers doing "Give Me Forty Acres", a classic Lonzo and Oscar rendering of "Charming Betsy" (Lonzo: What's your girl's name? Oscar: Bureau. Lonzo: Oscar, a bureau is a big thing that sits in the corner and has long, beat up drawers. Oscar: That's her.) and Minnie Pearl's routine, "Jealous Hearted Me" and the long, loud ovation that followed over which you can hear Minnie sobbing in the background....only to bounce right back with that wonderful, smoky cackle of a laugh she had. Also, before Roy Acuff closed out his segment he brought out Judge Hay's steamboat whistle and blew it in tribute. I should go looking for it but I'm almost afraid of what I might find.

  15. Barry, you should go looking for it. Who knows, you might find some long lost PBS tapes!!!

    Fred and Jim, sometimes I feel the same way about the Opry and I wonder how many more years it has left. But then I go and the "big red curtain" goes up, and it still feels like the Opry, no matter who is on stage. It is still fun and electric and there are still enough legends and veterans to make it worth while. And as far as the younger performers, I have to admit that most are not bad. Maybe we just need to give them a chance to grow up and realize what the Opry is all about.

  16. Hey Everyone,

    I'm Cody and I'm a aspiring professional magician, but listening to country music (especially the older country) is one of my other hobbies. I've read your blog for about a month, but this is my first comment.

    Anyways, on the delayed hall of fame announcement, how likely do you think it is that the delayed announcement is because two were elected from each category to make up for both the backlog and possibly Dottie West being a posthumous inductee. If this is true, I bet they say it's to celebrate the expansion.

  17. Welcome aboard Cody. Glad to have you a part of us and hope this is just the first of many comments.

    I am not sure why the Hall of Fame announcement is delayed this year, although there has never been a set date or time for the announcement. Sometimes it is nothing more than fitting it into their schedule. Who knows for sure?

  18. Jim, if I am correct, Hank Snow did not "retire." He had had health problems, came back in 1996, and then was off again. I do not know exactly what it was then except he did have respiratory issues. I remember Jean Shepard saying at some point in 1998 or 1999 that she had talked with him and he hoped to come back to the Opry soon, but he did have dementia.

  19. Michael:

    Now I'll have to dig out my recordings and see just what Hank said. I recall that at one point he said something to the effect that he was going into retirement or maybe semi retirement but he would come back to visit once in a while and I remember him returning for a couple of shows. I do want to be correct in that fact but my point was that he knew he was starting to get winded and off in his performances and he stopped before he ended on really poor condition.

    I did not find a specific date last night because it was further back than I remembered but Claude King did appear with Bill Anderson on the Friday night Opry in May of 2007 and he did sing Wolverton Mountain. He was not scheduled. Now that I have narrowed it down I will zero in on the exact date and pass it along. Maybe Byron will beat me to it. I was thinking I was nuts when I couldn't find it last night.

    Knightsville, IN

  20. In 2007, Bill Anderson was on the Friday Night Opry on May 4th and May 11th. I think the date was May 4th because there is a picture of Claude at the Opry and Jimmy C Newman and Mel McDaniel are both in the picture with him and they both were scheduled on the May 4th show. To me that would be the date.

    As far as Hank Snow, his health started to decline in 1995. He did 125 Opry shows that year, but he began missing a few. In 1996, his only 2 Opry appearances were on Friday August 9, when he did the 1st show that night, and Saturday August 31. He was scheduled for the weekend of September 7th and 14th, but cancelled out of those shows. September 14, 1996 was the final night that Hank was ever scheduled to do the Opry.

    When he returned to the Opry in in 1996 after being gone for almost 9 months, he received a great ovation and sounded good. He said how much he missed the Opry and was glad to be back. While respiratory issues have been mentioned (and Hank was a long time smoker), I do think the bigger issue was the dementia that set it. After his final Opry appearance, he remained pretty much at home and just faded away. There were mentions of him maybe coming back to the Opry, but I think Jean Shepard's comment was correct.

  21. Jim, you may well be right. I think that retirements are so rare that he would have stood out. I recall Bill Anderson doing a piece on his website about how few country artists really did retire, and he mentioned only a few: Sonny James (who I believe had some throat issues), Barbara Mandrell, the Statlers, Jeanne Pruett.

    On Hank Snow, I remember after he died that dementia was discussed as the cause and there was a sad story about how Minnie and their son didn't live in the same place with him and there were issues about paying bills and the like--not that they lost the money, but that Mr. Snow had lost his mental capacity.

  22. I saw Mr. Snow at the Opry a couple of times in his later years and while he sounded superb,he was having to use printed index cards to read the lyrics of the songs he was singing so it is not surprising that there were more severe issues later on. Granted, his catalog was extensive and he made efforts to vary the songs he did which I think was refreshing. From that aspect it is not surprising that he or anyone else would need assistance with lyrics. Sinatra also suffered dementia and needed monitors to read lyrics in his later years and I'm told that George Jones also uses monitors these days as well.

    I hope I'm wrong but I have a feeling we may have seen the last of regular appearances from Little Jim. He (or more likely Mona) has a twitter account which earlier this year was tweeting that he had a "cold" and hoped to be back soon. The tweets stopped early Feb. More recently Bill Anderson has posted on his website that LJD is no longer doing the CFR shows because his health isn't up to it. Again, I hope I'm wrong. LJD is a treasure!

  23. Michael, don't forget Carl Smith. He disappeared completely except an occasion or two where he appeared on Nashville Now with Carlene. Well, come to think of it, maybe he didn't retire, didn't he always tell everyone he was working with a jug band? The one time that my brother and I got to speak briefly with Goldie that was what she laughed and told us when we expressed our appreciation for his music. Way off subject but Goldie Hill was one of those precious people that is not properly remembered and did not make enough music. What can you say, she chose family over career, could there be anything more admirable?

    We talked with Jean and her husband Bennie in July of 1998 and Hank Snow is one of the folks we ask about. They said they stayed in touch with him and yes he apparently talked of returning to the stage.


  24. Jim, you're right, and I remember him appearing on Nashville Now with Carlene, saying he'd do it for his daughter, but otherwise, he was C. Wellington Smith, rancher. And I've heard that Goldie Hill was a national treasure, so it's good to see you confirming it too.

    As for the words to the songs, Hank Snow did tell the story of when he would have a new song and didn't know the lyrics, he would put them on a music stand and Vito Pelletieri would turn them upside down to bug him. But for all of the jokes about Mr. Acuff and his ability with names--introducing one songwriter as Tom P. Hay, for example--he was known in the trade as "One Take Ake" and to my knowledge never forgot a lyric on stage.

  25. A correction on Hank Snow's final Opry show. He did do the Friday Night Opry on September 6. Both shows that night. Then he cancelled out for Saturday. Sorry about that. Also, I think one reason he used the note cards when singing in his final years was that he was such a profectionist that he did not want to make any kind of mistake. I heard him say once that he practiced his guitar for hours each day to make sure he didn't lose touch with it.

    As far as Opry retirements, in the modern Opry it just doesn't happen any more, however in the earlier history of the Opry, retirements did take place, and even up into the 1980s with Marion Worth and Lonzo & Oscar coming to mind.

  26. Retirements don't take place anymore unless you're Holly Dunn. Once you start tracking the history of the Grand Ole Opry and it's members, you realize the "rules" about membership are and always have been very arbitrary.

    Concerning Hank Snow, I have a recording of both of his shows from his final (September 6th) appearance, and he closes his last show saying,
    "The Good Lord willing and the creeks don't rise, I will return to the Grand Ole Opry tomorrow night for two shows: one at 8:30 and one at eleven; and we hope that you folks out in radio-land will be with us if you can't be with us here in the auditorium. For now: goodnight, good luck, good health, and may the Good Lord always be proud of you. Thank you and God bless you."
    I'm not trying to say Hank didn't contemplate retirement, or even announce it at some point - but he was obviously not retiring on this show, or intending that this Sept. 6th performance be his last, although it ultimately was.
    Just for trivial sake, on his last segment Hank opened with "Geisha Girl", and his last song on the Opry was "(For Every Inch I've Laughed) I've Cried A Mile". The final guest on his segment was Charley Pride, and the announcer was Eddie Stubbs.

    on one final note, I also remember Grandpa Jones using note cards attached to the microphone stand for at least some songs in his very late performances.

  27. About Hank Snow and the note cards, they may have been a safety net for him if he was starting to have memory problems. However, at one point back around 1990 or so I counted up how many consecutive songs he did without repeating and it was over 90. The only song he did more than once in those several weeks was I'm Movin On which he only did two or three times. Thats a lot of lyrics to remember at any age. I was contemplating at the time that one man provided more variety on the Opry than our local radio station did in a week!

  28. To follow up on Hank Snow's song selection, toward the end of his career he said that he wanted to do on the Opry each song that he had recorded in his career, starting more or less at the beginning and working his way through. While I don't think he did every song, he got a good number of them in, which I think goes to the post of him doing 90 without repeating.

    Robert, to follow up on your post and the fact that he clearly intended to be back the following night, perhaps on that Friday he was having one of his good days, and then on Saturday, he didn't. While I think he really wanted to continue to do the Opry, and intended to, it was apparent that he was not up to it.

  29. Sorry for the speculation and mis information but I have finally pinned down that final Claude King appearance on the Opry. It was Friday May 16, 2008. Claude was in town taping Bill Anderson's Legends show for XM. I must be getting old because it sure seems like it was only few months ago that I was listening and hit the record button when Bill said he had a special guest.



  30. Hank Snow definitely boasted a larger working repertoire than that of any artist I can think of in the twilight of their career. I can certainly believe that he did 90 different songs in the early 90s. I did a quick count of the performances I taped (and I didn't catch every single show), and made a list of over 50 different songs, not counting instrumentals, that Hank performed on the Opry in just his last SIX MONTHS of regular performing. He was repeating more songs that just "Movin' On" by 1995, but that is still an extraordinary number. Compare this to Roy Acuff in his last few years, or Little Jimmy Dickens in recent years, whose regular repertoire would both number closer to a dozen than it would to 90. Grandpa Jones kept up a pretty wide repertoire until the end, but his results on his less familiar songs were much worse than Hank Snow's (from a perfectionist point of view anyhow). Bill Monroe had a large repertoire until the very end, but had the luxury of having a lead singer in the band, and thus only having to remember the chorus to many of the songs.

    One thing that hasn't been mentioned, before we blame Snow's cards purely on a bad memory, is that Hank Snow came from the old-school line of thought at the Opry, in that the radio presentation was the first priority - rather than the concert-mentality we are confronted with today. I have seen pictures of Hank using words on stage from the days when he was far too young for his memory to be at fault. I have also seen pictures of Roy Acuff and the band singing from a book gathered around the microphone at the Ryman in the 50s. You couldn't see a songbook or an index card or a script on the radio, so it wasn't a concern to the artists to use one.
    In that same line of thinking, Hank was also the last to regularly introduce his guests from behind the announcer's podium. You'll never see artists introduced from the wings now because the show is being performed with the in-house audience as first priority now. Even though the radio audience has shrunk from what it used to be, there's still a lot more people listening on the radio than will fit inside the Opry house.

  31. Fred, Bismarck:

    Re. the size of that Opry radio audience:

    Would some knowledgable Good Samaritan please explain just what happened to the good old 50,000-watt Clear Channel signals we used to enjoy? Is it conflict from all the microwave and cell-phone signals out there, or were the old CC stations required to throttle their signals down?

    I have tried to research this on the 'Net without happy results.

  32. My WSM AM650 reception in Bloomington, IN, about 250 miles away, seems as strong as ever. FCC search shows WSM still pretty much owns 650 East of the Mississippi.

    Great question, Fred. Pretty sure I don't have the answer.

  33. Michael, you are correct. Sonny James retired to allergies that were affecting his ability to sing. He was starting to have those problems when I started doing a lot of work for him in the late 70’s. By that time he had drastically cut back his touring schedule and retired completely by 1982. Like Carl Smith, he had a ranch in Alabama and he became a gentleman rancher. He and his wife, Doris, are still as active in social circles as they’ve ever been. A friend recently sent me a photo of a fund raising event at my college in Nashville that they attended and they both look great. Two of the nicest, most genuine people you will ever meet if you’re fortunate enough to do so. I think my early exposure to Sonny and his guys, the APTLY named Southern Gentlemen, spoiled me for life and led to my lifelong impatience for the temperamental and diva-like behavior from anyone, celebrity or not. Go check out Sonny’s website as he’s got an entire section of photos of his band members over the years.

    You might call Hank Snow’s cue cards a low-tech version of what we now call “confidence monitors”. Politicians and speakers have used them for years but they’re becoming more popular in concert settings. George Jones and Merle Haggard are just two of the artists that use them. Since the standard teleprompter would look completely out of place on a concert stage they’re disguised to look like the rest of the monitors on the floor. But they’re there.

    Hank was one of those Opry stars who wasn’t content to do the same 2 or 3 “signature songs” week in and week out and like to dig back into his catalog for songs he didn’t usually do. He used them for as long as I remember and not just in his final years. And he wasn’t the only one. If you look at photos from the 40’s, you’ll see a lot of performers working from a script, particularly on the network broadcasts. After all, it was radio and no one except the studio audience would know. I’ve got a great photo of Minnie Pearl at the microphone on the Prince Albert show with a page of handwritten jokes in her hands.

    On a side note, I’m always amused by the awards shows, particularly the Oscars, when presenters who are great actors are so awkward and uncomfortable when they’re reading lines from a teleprompter. You’d think that would be easier than memorizing lines from a script.

    I was picking up WSM 2 weeks ago in Daytona Beach, Florida, as clear as a bell around 7:30 local time. Of course, it was cold (and not just "Florida cold") and clear which helps a clear channel signal travel farther. In the winter I can often pick up the big AM stations out of Des Moines, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Dallas and New Orlenans here in Orlando.

  34. Barry, a few years back, I did a paper on Sonny James for a conference and managed to talk with a couple of his Southern Gentlemen. Gentlemen they were and are, and Sonny's nickname for them and himself was absolutely appropriate. I wish I'd gotten to meet him or talk with him in the process, but I know he read and liked my paper!

  35. Hey Guys Still No Word Of New Hall Of Fame Inductees Whats It Taking It So Long To Announce Them? I Bet Its To Celebrate The Expanison If Its Two Inductees From Each Category(Non-Performer Veterans Era And Modern Era)This Year Who Do You Think Which Two Will Make It This Year?

    1. Don't know about a mass induction, but would not be surprised if several people were not involved to get to Nashville... i.e.. The Browns and Oak Ridge Boys...that is seven alone...not to mention if there were any ties in the categories.

  36. Thanks David for answering. I have kept kind of quiet on the subject (at least on the blog), until the announce when the announcement will be. For what it is worth, the fact that they are possibly getting everyone together for the announcement leads me to think that the inductees are all living (or the majority of them are). Also, I have checked the tour schedules of some of the finalists, and the Oak Ridge Boys have been touring pretty heavily over the past several weeks, although they are in town next weekend. Obviously the Browns are not active, and Jim Ed does very limited shows, mostly on the weekends. If you look at a few of the other finalists, Kenny Rogers is out west and Alan Jackson and Ronnie Milsap are open.

    The past several years, the announcement has come on the 1st Tuesday in March, so obviously they are a little late this year, but that is not unusual for the Hall of Fame. After the Hall of Fame announcement stopped being a part of the CMA Awards show in October, the Hall of Fame announcements have varied, but still usually in the late winter months, and not always at the Hall of Fame. The year that Bill Carlisle and Porter Wagoner were elected, the Dixie Chicks made the announcement at the Opry. (I have heard over the years that Porter was not overly happy about that!!)

    1. Byron:
      I had not thought to look at the touring schedule. Another clue.

      Also, another factor to consider is that the 2012 inductees were only inducted in November, compared to a March announcement and early summer inductions from years past. The CMA may hold this year back a few weeks or even longer because of this.

  37. Hey Guys Lets Make Our Final Predictions For This Years Hall Of Fame Inductees Who Do You Guys Think Will Make It From The Non-Performer Veterans Era And Modern Era Categories This Year

  38. Fred, Bismarck:

    Thanks, Nat and Barry, for your info re. Clear Channel radio. Looks like you (and probably others) are still pulling in 650 and other CC stations OK. Glad to know it's still out there for somebody. Of course, I don't keep the late hours I used to, but back when I could operate with 4-5 hours sleep, late-night country from some of these powerhouses was one of my glories.

  39. Hey Guys I Think It Will Be Ronnie Milsap That Gets Inducted From The Modern Category This Year

  40. My picks for the hall of fame would be [Modern Era,Oak Ridge Boys] [Veterans,June Carter Cash] [Recording Musician,Don Rich]My second choices would be Dottie West,Kenny Rogers,Hank Jr.,Archie Campbell,Bobby Bare,the Browns,Ronnie Milsap,Tanya Tucker,Alan Jackson,Bradley Kincaid.I can hardly wait.

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