Friday, November 8, 2013

Stringbean's Last Opry Show

It was Saturday November 10, 1973 that David Akeman, otherwise known as "Stringbean" played his final Grand Ole Opry show. As I do each year, and this being the 40th anniversary of his murder, I would like to post the line-up from his final show:

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Willis Brothers (host): Little Red Wagon
Johnny Carver: Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree
Willis Brothers: God Walks These Hills With Me

6:45: Rudy's
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Forget, Forgive Us #1
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Josie Brown: Precious Memories, Follow Me
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: When My Time Comes to Go

7:00: Rudy's
Tex Ritter (host): Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
Stringbean: Hillybilly Fever
Karen Wheeler: The First Time for Us
Tex Ritter: Green Grow the Lilacs
Stringbean: Y'all Come
Karen Wheeler: Listen, Spot
Tex Ritter: Fall Away

7:30: Standard Candy
Bobby Bare (host): Ride Me Down Easy
Jimmy Martin: Just Plain Yellow
Melba Montgomery: Crawdad Song
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel
Bobby Bare: The Streets of Baltimore
Jimmy Martin: Tennessee
Melba Montgomery: Wrap Your Love Around Me
Bobby Bare: Detroit City

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Night Train to Memphis
Grandpa Jones: Mountain Dew
Jimmy Driftwood: Run, Johnny, Run/Tennessee Stud
Roy Acuff: Wabash Cannonball
Grandpa Jones: Orange Blossom Special
Oswald: Roll On, Buddy

8:30: Stephens
Billy Grammer (host): Gotta Travel On
Marion Worth: Paper Roses
Billy Grammer, Jr: Orange Blossom Special
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldiers Joy
Billy Grammer: I'm Letting You Go
Marion Worth: Me and Bobby McGee
Billy Grammer: Just A Closer Walk With Thee

2nd show
9:30: Willis Brothers (host): Give Me 40 Acres
Johnny Carver: Tie A Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree
Jimmy Martin: Honey, You Don't Know My Mind
Josie Brown: Precious Memories Follow Me
Skeeter Willis: Maiden's Prayer
Johnny Carver: Tonight Someone's Falling In Love
Jimmy Martin: Who'll Sing For Me When I Am Gone

10:00: Fender
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Little Darling Pal of Mine
Bill Carlisle: Have A Drink on Me/No Help Wanted
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Coming Down From God

10:15: Union 76
Tex Ritter (host): There's A New Moon Over My Shoulder
Stringbean: Gonna Make Myself A Name/Hot Corn; Cold Corn
Tex Ritter: Willie, The Wondering Gypsy and Me

10:30: Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): Ball Knob, Arkansas
Grandpa Jones: Bright Morning Stars Are Rising
Jimmy Driftwood: The Mixed Up Family

10:45: Beech-Nut
Bobby Bare (host): Four Strong Winds
Karen Wheeler: The First Time for Us
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Bobby Bare: Detroit City

11:00: Coca-Cola
Billy Grammer (host): Bonaporte's Retreat
Melba Montgomery: Don't Keep Me Lonely Too Long
Billy Grammer, Jr: Orange Blossom Special
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Billy Grammer: Somewhere My Love
Melba Montgomery: Let's All Go Down to the River
Sam McGee: Worry, Worry Blues
Billy Grammer: What A Friend

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): I Walk Alone
Marion Worth: Paper Roses/Sleeping At The Foot of the Bed
Ronnie Robbins: Too Much Love Between Us/Mama Tried
Marty Robbins: Love Me/Big Boss Man/Crawling On My Knees/Don't Worry/El Paso

It is important to remember, especially someone who's talents and contributions are often overlooked.


  1. Amen, Byron.

    I have no doubt that, if he had lived and lived long enough, especially given that he would have been on Hee Haw for much longer, he would have wound up in the Hall of Fame, and very deservedly so.

  2. Eddie Stubbs had a wonderful show Thursday night dedicated to Stringbean. He had a son of Kirk Gibson in the studio with him. Gibson was Stringbean's guitar player for several months prior to his murder. The gentleman's (son of Kirk Gibson) first name slips my mind. Gibson came forward with a real to real tape done 40 years ago, that aired a half hour prior to the first Opry show after Stringbean's murder. The show had not been heard in 40 years and Stubbs said it was not even in the WSM archives. Apparently, Gibson himself ended up with the only recording of it. The show had touching interviews from Grandpa Jones, Roy Acuff, Buck Owens and Bill Monroe. Excerpts from String and Estelle's funeral and live Opry performances of "Y'all Come" and "Gonna Make Myself A Name/Hot Corn; Cold Corn" , from his last Opry performances that Byron has listed above.
    And Michael I wholeheartedly agree with you about the Hall of Fame. Grandpa Jones is in; Bill Carlisle is in; The Duke of Paducah is in; there is NO GOOD REASON why Stringbean is not in the Hall of Fame. The reason literally is because he was murdered in 1973 and not 1993. Maybe some people will look at this 40 year anniversary and take notice. He was a 30 year Opry member and a great part in the packaged Country music shows of the 1950's and 1960's. Tex Ritter himself, in that last Opry, show referred to him as a "superstar" in country music today, due to his popularity on HEE HAW. Maybe the CMA will look back at his contributions and consider him in the future for the Hall of Fame.

  3. Fred, Bismarck:

    Gentlemen, I couldn't agree more on String's Hall credentials. But given the track record of Hall voters for many years, I would be very surprised. Out of sight, out of mind, etc. Often, in plain sight but still out of mind ... the most notable example, in my opinion, being Mac Wiseman.

  4. I saw that Peter Cooper of the Tennessean is going to have an article in Sunday's paper regarding Stringbean. Peter always does an excellent job with his coverage of country music, so I am looking forward to the article.

    David, I was unable to listen to the tribute to Stringbean on WSM. I am sure they will post it in their archives. It is not surprising that WSM does not have the tape of the show the week following Stringbean's murder as we all know that over the years they have done a poor job with their archives. Just too bad that nobody thought of the historical significance of many of those Opry shows back then.

    Also, if my records are correct, the show the week following Stringbean's final show began with a tribute read by Bud Wendell. Also, Roy Acuff was on both shows of the Opry that night but did not sing on the first show. There was a lot of emotion that night at the Opry and in some cases, it was reflected in the song choices of some of the artists.

  5. Fred, beyond Mac Wiseman having a stellar career and being an A&R man and CMA board executive, I can think of one reason to put him in the Hall of Fame that no one should ever question. Someone once said to Bill Monroe, "Who was your greatest lead singer?" He said, as though it was silly to ask the question, "Oh, Mac." That's it. That's all.

    I know that Stringbean's murder really shook up Mr. Acuff and it helped motivate his decision to move to Opryland after his wife died, so that there would be plenty of people around him.

  6. David, I just realized from reading another story ({%2210202470343577853%22%3A1404012359836290}&action_type_map={%2210202470343577853%22%3A%22og.recommends%22}&action_ref_map={}) that the guitarist was Curt Gibson. He later worked with Hank Snow. Close to that time, Mr. Snow's guitar player, Jimmy Widener, was murdered. That murder tends to be even less remembered, sad to say.

    1. jimmie was a great guitarist, singer, friend, and his loss was a great one. Ome terrific guy. Still missed today. Hope his murderers never get out and a songwriters widow died too

  7. Fred, Bismarck:

    Michael: And of course Grandpa himself relocated to Mountain View, Ark., with which he was previously acquainted because a brother lived there, commuting to do the Opry.

  8. The article that Peter Cooper has in today's Tennessean is outstanding. Really does justice to Stringbean and to the events that happened.

  9. Fred, I'd forgotten about that. The Peter Cooper article is great. A friend of mine asked a question, though, and it's a good question: if everything was so innocent, why did Stringbean carry a gun and hide his money in the chimney? I don't mention that to be unpleasant, but I do think that the idea of "innocence" often can be overdone.

    By the way, Curt Gibson also did recordings, and if you search online, he sang on a record that Kayton Roberts, his fellow Rainbow Ranch Boy, made.

  10. Mike, you bring up an excellent question. The only answer and thought that I have is that Stringbean grew up in the South and being born in 1916, he would have been a teenager during the depression. He saw banks fail and probably many people who he knew lost all of their savings. I know my wife's father never believed in a bank after that and kept all of his money at home and hid it much like Stringbean did. And when you consider that he toured and spent time with Bill Monroe, who in many ways, was much the same as Stringbean-always paid in cash and not puting money into banks. As far as the gun, it was probably a way of life for him, much like you or I carrying our wallets. Not growing up in that era or in that part of the country, it might be hard for us to fully understand.

    As far as the article, one of the things that stood out was Hank Snow refusing to do the prison show after finding out that the Brown boys would be in the audience. While it was written that Stringbean was a very forgiving man, you could say Hank wasn't.

  11. Byron, I agree--I think the history explains bank. I also think we're talking about a culture. If you carried a lot of money, I can imagine him thinking, you should be protected.

    That point about Hank Snow is really interesting, and bear in mind that Jimmy Widener had been killed not long after Stringbean and Estelle. He talked in his autobiography about how much all of that shook him up, as you know.

  12. knew many in the music Jimmie Widener was a favorite as a talent and person Still missed today