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.


  1. Byron:
    Thanks for remembering one of Country Music's greatest vocalists. Growing up Jack Greene was a Saturday night tradition, along with many others who are slowly leaving us one by one. Two others, Little Jimmy & Jean Shepard are battling health issues I know, and we need to continue to remember them.

    While I believe there are others of this generation that should be in the Country Music Hall of Fame, a Jack Greene induction would not offend me in the least. Someday it might happen.

    Here's to the "Jolly Greene Giant" of Country Music.

  2. Thanks Byron for the nice notes on Jack Greene. He one of our greatest vocalist who hung onto his voice to the end and received wonderful applause and sometime standing ovations at the Opry up to his last performances.

    He had several great hits but he was also one of those artist who always put out solid albums with great songs and performances throughout. He and Cal Smith carried the ET kindness to the next generation and they always spoke with love about Ernest. Keep Cal in mind as we note Jack's passing. He has had health issues the last several years as well.

    Is it my internet ignorance or is the Opry being slow to post anything on their website? Or maybe they are not going to!

    Knightsville, IN

  3. The idea of losing Jack Greene is made only a little easier by the knowledge that he could no longer perform and was battling an insidious disease. Happily, those who knew him will have their great memories of him. Those of us who just liked the singer and thought he sure seemed like a nice guy will have the memories of wonderful performances.

  4. I just took a closer look at that 67 lineup. I'd sure like to hear the live version of Hank Snow doing Christmas Wants. For those not familiar, it is a recitation that was on his great 1967 Christmas LP.

    It's also nice to Harold Weakley in the list. I always enjoyed is singing.

    Knightsville, IN

  5. I just remembered this and had to share it.

    One night on Nashville Now, Jack Greene and Ricky Van Shelton did a duet of Statue of a Fool. It was a great moment. When Ricky Van's turn came, Jack said, "Take it, son." When they got back to the couch, Ralph Emery smiled and said it was a nice moment when Jack said that, because Ernest Tubb used to say that to him. Jack looked shocked and said he didn't even realize he had done it.

    Paying it forward.

  6. from PA
    shameful; the Grand Ole Opry webpage still has no acknowledgement of this sad event (just checked at 2:30pm EDST)

  7. Hey Guys Which 70s-80s Stars Do You Guys See Getting Elected From The Modern Category At Some Point And Which Other 70s-80s Stars Do You Guys See Getting Elected From The Veterans Category At Some Point Too I Just Wanted To Know?

  8. To follow-up on another comment made above, as of 5:30, the Opry website still has nothing about Jack Greene. They can post an article about Taylor Swift meeting a cancer patient (which is good), but they can't make mention of a man who gave the Opry 45 years of membership!! I don't know who is in charge of the website, but this is almost criminal!!

    We talk about the "class" of many of the legends, and I want to add Jeannie Seely to that list. I know on several of Jack's last Opry appearances when he was having trouble with the words, Jeannie would go over and kind-of help Jack out. And she did it without embarrasing Jack. She was a great asset to him at his final performance at his birthday in January.

    On another note, I normally do not comment publicly regarding comments on the blog, as I enjoy the communication. But to Anonymous, this is a post regarding Jack Greene, not the forum for the Hall of Fame. Please show some respect for this legendary artist. There will be plenty of time for Hall of Fame discussion later.

  9. Fred, Bismarck:

    At 5 p.m. CDT I have found the Opry Web story on Jack under "News Headlines." Folks may have been looking at the Blog, which is topped by the Taylor Swift piece.

  10. There is a wonderful You Tube video of Mr. Greene performing Statue of A Fool at his 83rd birthday party. He looks and sounds great and one would not know of his Alzheimers just by watching the video.

    Bill Anderson also has a nice tribute on his website today about his friend of nearly 60 years.

  11. I follow the Opry on Facebook. They had a post about Jack Greene very early this morning. Apparently, the same person does not maintain both pages.

  12. The Opry did have a post about Jack's passing on its Facebook page this morning at 7:58 AM central time and another post with a link of Jack singing Statue of a Fool at 12:02 PM central time. The Opry's website may have been lagging, but its Facebook page wasn't.


  13. I did see the facebook, but I did not see it on the Opry site. Thanks.

    As far as the Opry tonight, Pete Fisher did a short dedication to Jack and a moment of silence. Nice.

  14. I would expect Jeannie Seely to do something tonight unless it's just too tough for her, which I would understand, given the circumstances. Bill Anderson is on and he wrote a tribute to Jack Greene on his website about how they had known each other roughly since the dawn of time, and what a fine man and entertainer he was--exactly the class Ol' Whisper would show.

  15. The article that Fred mentioned was on the Opry web site before noon. Basically, you have to look for it. Seems like they could have done a direct link on the main page.

  16. I noticed this morning that the BING search engine has Jack Green passing noted, I thought that was a nice gesture that will be seen by a ton of people.


  17. Sorry about the mis-spelled word, hit send button to fast. Should have been Jack Greene.

  18. I second that Jeannie Seely is a class act. She was very impressive all the way around last night. Maybe it was just me but I thought all of Jack's class did a superb job last night. Overall I think every one did whether I like the music or not.

    Jeannie Seely will be hosting the Midnite Jamboree tonight and doing a tribute to Jack.

    Eddie Stubbs will do a tribute Wednesday night at 8 central.

    Knightsville, IN

  19. Wonderful blog post; thank you.

    Here's Jack at his 83rd birthday party. He looks and sounds great and one would not know of his health issues just by watching this.

    (The image starts off out of focus but quickly correct itself.)

  20. Gerry in Asheville, NCMarch 21, 2013 at 1:31 AM

    Jack should have been in the Hall of Fame while he was ALIVE! He gave his all to country music and his fans. He had the numbers. So does Jim Ed Brown. Are politics at work here? This is disappointing.

    Gerry in Asheville, NC

  21. There are so many eligible candidates that it makes it tough. Jack had a very good career in country music, but I don't know if it was sustained enough to get it. Jim Ed Brown and The Browns will eventually get in. Many think it might be this year.

    On another note, Eddie Stubbs did his usual great job with the Jack Greene tribute Wednesday night on WSM.

  22. Tribute song for Jack Greene

    Solid Gold Statue (Larry W. Jones - Kingwood Kowboy)

    If ever there needs to be
    An award for integrity
    To a love that's as pure as gold
    Then build a solid gold statue
    Of the one who owns my love
    Greatest love story ever told

    Build a solid gold statue
    And let it shine for a love that's true
    Then engrave on its base
    That nothing can replace my love for you

    And on that golden face
    A lovely smile should be placed
    To show the world what pleasantness you bring
    Never a single trace
    Of a tear out of place
    Of lasting happiness you make me sing

    - instrumental -

    And on that golden face
    A lovely smile should be placed
    To show the world what pleasantness you bring
    Never a single trace
    Of a tear out of place
    Of lasting happiness you make me sing

    Build a solid gold statue
    And let it shine for a love that's true
    Then engrave on its base
    That nothing can replace my love for you

    Build a solid gold statue
    And let it shine for a love that's true
    Then engrave on its base
    That nothing can replace my love for you

  23. My daughter's father knew and played with Jack Greene at the Covered Wagon in Atlanta, Ga. Then he took over the club and ran it until 1980. I never had the pleasure of meeting Jack, but he did come to Atlanta in the 1990's and my friend met him and they talked. I did not go because I felt they may need some time to talk alone I wish I had. I can't mention names because I was and still am married. May Jack and my daughter's father rest in peace.