Sunday, March 30, 2014

April Opry Highlights

Here are the important and historical events that have taken place in Grand Ole Opry history, or regarding Opry members, in 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. Lulu Belle & Scotty, Bradley Kincaid and Gene Autry were among the successful performers who were part of that show. The "National Barn Dance" lasted until 1960 when the station changed formats.

April 17, 1926: Uncle Dave Macon becomes a regular on the WSM Barn Dance. At the age of 55, he was the first performer who could come to the show with a national reputation. In a way, his hiring would start the show on the path of becoming a group of professional entertainers instead of those who "came down from the hills for the weekend." Uncle Dave would remain an Opry member until his death on March 1, 1952, at the age of 81. He was one of the early members elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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, as had Sam and Kirk, when they decided to team up. They had a good reputation and within a short amount of time, they had two ten-minute segments on the show. Arthur, however, had a drinking problem and in 1938 he was suspended from the Opry after missing several appearances. The Dixieliners made their final Opry appearance on January 14, 1939 when Arthur Smith left. Sam and Kirk McGee would continue on with the Opry.

April 29, 1933: The Delmore Brothers, Rabon and Alton, made their first appearance on the Opry. They stayed as regulars until 1938, when they left for what they thought was a better opportunity. Alton would later have a book published that he wrote called, "Truth is Stranger" that details their stay at the Opry and the issues between themselves and George D. Hay and Harry Stone. After leaving the Opry, the Delmore Brothers moved around from radio station to radio station, eventually ending up at WLW in Cincinnati. There they got together with Merle Travis and Grandpa Jones and recorded as the "Browns Ferry Four." All 4 of these individuals would eventually be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Their final Opry show was September 11, 1938 and their final song was "What Would You Give in Exchange for Your Soul."

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 was on the Hayride, his guitarist was James Burton, who would join up with Ricky Nelson. When Bob joined the 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 particuarly care for that style of music. He passed away in 1978.

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 recordings to feature the electric guitar. The success of the record would lead Ernes to Nashville and the Opry, which he joined in 1943.

April 14, 1945: Upon the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a performance of "Taps" was played from the stage of the Opry. This marked the first time that a trumpet was played during an Opry performance. Buddy Harroll, part of Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys had the honor. Let's just say that it has been written that George D. Hay was not very 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 was broadcast on the NBC radio network. He was making $15.00 per night on the Opry and asked for a raise to $100 a 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. At the time, he was the Opry's biggest star and he knew that if he was out on the road he could make more money and have the time to film some movies. He wanted that recognized by both the Opry and the sponsor. Roy would eventually return to the Opry and when he did, he was paid more than the union scale.

April 13, 1946: A week after Roy Acuff left the Opry, Red Foley debuted as the new host of "The Prince Albert Show" segment of the Opry. This was also the same night that Red became an Opry member. After Roy quit as a member of the Opry, William Esty and Company, which was the advertising agency that represented R.J. Reynolds Tabacco Company, which made Prince Albert chewing tabacco, undertook a broadly based survey to determine how best to replace Roy. Most listeners wanted the Opry to continue without any changes, but it was clear after all the questioning was done that a large portion of Opry fans wanted more music on the show, suggesting the need to replace Roy with a singer. Esty checked all the available data, which included record sales, jukebox plays and radio favorites, and it all pointed to Red Foley. Red would later say, "I guess I was never more scared than 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. Minnie Pearl would call Red, "the best looking thing I have ever seen." It is interesting to note that Red only hosted the Prince Albert portion of the Opry and did not do 2 slots as most of the Opry's performers did. Also, when Roy returned to the Opry a year later, Red remained the Prince Albert host and while Roy and Red got along, they were never the best of friends.

April 13, 1946: The same night that Red Foley came to the Opry, so did Chet Atkins, who was introduced on the Opry that night by Red. 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 for about 6 months, then he quit in his own dispute with Esty. While Chet was on the Opry a lot, he was never an Opry member.

April 26, 1947: After leaving the Opry the previous year, Roy Acuff returned to the Opry as the host of the "Royal Crown Cola Show." There is a story that Ernest Tubb and Harry Stone went to Roy, who was in a Nashville hospital, and told him that the Opry might go under if he didn't come back. While there is no evidence to support that the Opry was in trouble, the words worked with Roy and he came back, never to leave again.

April 3, 1948: The Louisiana Hayride starts on KWKH in Shreveport. Over the next decade, a large number of the Opry's new members would come from the Hayride, earning it the reputation as a farm club for the Opry. Those stars included David Houston, Billy Walker, Webb Pierce, Jim Reeves, Faron Young, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. The Hayride also helped Elvis Presley start his career.

April 26, 1952: Martha Carson, the great gospel singer, joined 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 working a year in New York City. According to Martha, "I got a leave of absence from the Opry. I didn't quit and I wasn't fired. When I came 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." What a poor decision by the management at that time.

April 18, 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 televisioin, 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 stars and one of the more popular members. Nobody sang "Peace In the Valley" better then Red.

April 12, 1958: Don Gibson becomes a member of the 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 rejoined the show and would remain a member of the Opry until his death on November 17, 2003. Even though he rejoined the Opry, he never made very many appearances after coming back. In 2001 he was elected to the Hall of Fame. I am told that after being elected, he never acknowledged his election.

April 4, 1959: Bill Anderson performs for the first time at the Opry. In July 1961, he would become an Opry member.

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 Opry and just like the Opry, at one time it was broadcast on a national basis.

April 30, 1966: Ray Pillow joined the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Ray's 48th year as an Opry member. On the night that he was inducted, Ernest Tubb did the honors. Though he is now on senior status and his Opry appearances have been reduced, he still does a great job hosting a segment and his voice is still smooth and solid.

April 22, 1967: The 4 Guys became members of the 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. The reason given for their termination was the fact that all of the original members were no longer current members of the group. For a number of years, The 4 Guys operated and performed at a dinner theater in Nashville.

April 6, 1968: Following the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., 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 square dance hall for Opry fans that afternoon.

April 6, 1968: On the same date as the cancelled show, Bud Wendall became the new General Manager of the Opry, replacing Ott Devine, who had been the Opry's manager since 1959.

April 21, 1971: After taking a break to raise her children, Connie Smith returned as a member of the Opry. Since the Opry considers Connie a member from when she first joined in 1965, next year she will be celebrating her 50th year as an Opry member.

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

April 27, 1972: Opryland opens for the 1st time. The park was an immediate hit. 2 years later, the Opry House would be completed and the Grand Ole Opry would move to the park.

April 5, 1975: Skeeter Davis returns to the Opry after being suspended 16 months earlier. Several Opry members went to Bud Wendall and asked that she be allowed back.

April 23, 1976: Don Williams is introduced as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. Jeanne Pruett did the introduction. As everyone knows, Don and the Opry really didn't work out and he left a few years later.

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 really never 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 as 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 stage manager). Immediately, every one of the Opry's members signed a petition demanding that he be allowed to continue at the Opry. WSM officials relented and while he retired as the WSM librarian, he continued with the Opry. 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 and among his words he said, "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." Vito never owned a car or learned how to drive. In all his years as the Opry's stage manager, he took the bus to and from the Opry.

April 13, 1981: Guy Willis of the Willis Brothers died at the age of 65. The Willis Brothers consisted of Guy, Skeeter and Vic. They originally joined the Opry in June 1946, but left in 1948 to go on the road with Eddy Arnold, and they were with him until 1957. They also spent some time with Hank Williams. In 1960, they rejoined the Opry. Skeeter Willis died prior to Guy in 1976. After Skeeter died, Vic and Guy continued until Guy had to retire from performing in 1979 due to illness. After Guy retired, Vic formed the Vic Willis Trio and they were Opry members starting in 1979. They continued on the Opry until Vic died in a car accident in January 1995.

April 3, 1982: DeFord Bailey makes his final appearance at the Opry. He had been appearing during the Opry's Old-Timer's night the previous few years.

April 13, 1985: The Grand Ole Opry begins regular television broadcasts on The Nashville Network. The original shows were a half-hour, before eventually expanding to an hour. In 2001, the broadcast moved to Country Music Television and in 2003 moved to Great American Country. The first televised show was a special one hour edition and featured Roy Acuff as the host, along with Connie Smith, Minnie Pearl and the 4 Guys in the first half hour, with Porter Wagoner hosting the second half, with guests Dottie West, Jack Greene, the Crook Brothers and the Melvin Sloan Dancers. The original shows on TNN were not scripted for television, but were nothing more than the radio show with a camera. As a result, many times the timing was not right and the show ended on television in the middle of songs.

April 22, 1989: Clint Black makes his first appearance at the Opry. In January 1991, he would become an Opry member.

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 due to the poor condition of the building. 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 that featured Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Roy Husky, Jr., Marty Stuart, Alison Krauss and Earl Scruggs. Vince said that night, "That's what this place is all about. Nights 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. You could say they were original members. They remained at the Opry until 1988, a total of 62 years. Lewis was not with the Crook Brothers when they originally joined the WSM Barn Dance. He came along in 1928. 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 health issues for a number of years.

April 18, 1998: Diamond Rio became members of the Opry. This will be their 16th year as Opry members and they remain a fan favorite. Since joining the cast, they have generally done a good job with their Opry appearances, and almost always have made the 10 per year asked of the members.

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

April 17, 2004: The Judds made their first guest appearance on the 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 took part in the show included Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Del McCoury Band and Rebecca Lynn Howard.

April 21, 2012: Keith Urban becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 2nd year as an Opry member. As with several other modern Opry members, Keith has made few visits to the Opry House since joining.

April 26, 2013: The Grand Ole Opry dedicates the shows for this weekend to the late George Jones. The guests included Montgomery Gentry, Brad Paisley and John Conlee.

A pretty busy month at the Opry.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Grand Ole Opry 3/28 & 3/29

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the two shows this weekend, and I have to say that the Opry has come up with 2 pretty nice shows. The line-ups look pretty solid and feature a couple of Opry members who do not get to the Opry as often as many of us would like.

Scheduled for both nights is Opry member Patty Loveless. I have said before that she is one of my favorite female country singers. I just wish she would get to the Opry more often. Joining her on Saturday night will be another long-lost Opry member Ronnie Milsap. Hopefully Ronnie makes it as he has cancelled out on his last couple of Opry shows. Joining them will be Opry member Vince Gill and guest artists Lee Greenwood, Leah Turner and Lauren Alaina.

Joining Patty on the Friday Night Opry will be Ricky Skaggs and Joe Diffie. Guest artists include Michael W. Smith, Mark Wills and a new name, Fiddlin' Carson Peters. From what I can find, this is a 10 year old fiddle player who has opened for Ricky Skaggs and has played a few numbers with Ricky. It should be interesting to see and hear this young man.

And what is an Opry weekend without someone from "Nashville" and this weekend it is Jonathan Jackson.

Friday March 28
7:00: John Conlee (host); Mark Wills; Jesse McReynolds
7:30: Riders In the Sky (host); Jan Howard; Jimmy C Newman; Joe Diffie
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Jonathan Jackson; Patty Loveless
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Fiddlin' Carson Peters; Michael W. Smith

Saturday March 29
7:00: John Conlee (host); Leah Turner; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Mandy Barnett; Ronnie Milsap
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Jean Shepard; Lee Greenwood; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Lauren Alaina; Patty Loveless

For this week's look in past Grand Ole Opry line-ups, I go to Saturday March 30, 1974. This was 40 years ago this weekend and 2 weeks after the new Opry House opened. It was also the last Opry appearance of the Earl Scruggs Revue. Earl Scruggs first came to the Opry with Bill Monroe in the 1940s. After the split from Bill, Earl and Lester Flatt became Opry members in the 1950s. On February 22, 1969, they made their final Opry appearance before their break up. Both Lester and Earl remained Opry members and Earl put together a group with his sons, the Earl Scruggs Revue. On September 13, 1969, they made their first Opry appearance. Earl did not perform on the Opry on a regular basis as he preferred to take his group to new and younger audiences. Finally on March 30, 1974, they left the Opry for good.

After a few years away, Earl began to make guest appearances on the Opry and would do so for the remainder of his life. There is also a report that later in life he expressed an interest in rejoining the Opry, but the invitation never came.

Here is the line-up from Saturday March 30, 1974:

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Charlie Walker (host): Don't Squeeze My Sharmon
Ernie Ashworth: Honky-Tonk Hardwood Floor
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down

6:45: Rudy's
Willis Brothers (host): Truck Stop
Justin Tubb: Lonesome 7-7203/Looking Back To See
Willis Brothers: Buying Popcorn

7:00: Rudy's
Archie Campbell (host): (?)
Bob Luman: Lonely Women Make Good Lovers
Tommy Jones: Dixie Humminbird
Archie Campbell: (?)
Bob Luman: When You Say Love
Tommy Jones: Orange Blossom Special
Archie Campbell: Make Friends

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: I'm Going Home On The Morning Train
Lonzo & Oscar: Moving On #2
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Lost Indian
Roy Acuff: Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
Carolee Cooper: Making Plans
Roy Acuff: I Saw The Light

8:00: Martha White
Billy Walker (host): I Changed My Mind
Grandpa Jones: Are You From Dixie
Earl Scruggs Revue: Foggy Mountain Breakdown
Connie Smith: Dallas
Billy Walker: You Gave Me A Mountain
Grandpa Jones: Just Plain Folks
Earl Scruggs Revue: I Shall Be Released

8:30: Stephans
Billy Grammer (host): Detroit City
Stu Phillips: Great El Tigrae
4 Guys: Don't It Make You Want To Go Home
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Johnny Russell: Red Necks, White Socks And Blue Ribbon Beer
Stu Phillips: That's A Chance I'll Have To Take
Billy Grammer: What A Friend

2nd show
9:30: Kelloggs
Charlie Walker (host): Wanting My Woman Again
Willis Brothers: Cool Water
Connie Smith: Amazing Grace
Ernie Ashworth: Honky-Tonk Hardwood Floor
Charlie Walker: Jambalaya
Connie Smith: Louisiana Man
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips

10:00: Fender
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Doin' My Time
Bob Luman: Today I Started Loving You Again
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Coming Down From God

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Back In The Country
Justin Tubb: Loving Arms
Roy Acuff: Carry Me Back To The Mountains

10:30: Trailblazer
Stu Phillips (host): There Must Be Another Way To Say Goodbye
Grandpa Jones: Banjo Sam/Mountain Dew
Stu Phillips: For The Good Times

10:45: Beech-Nut
Billy Grammer (host): Lonesome Road Blues
Lonzo & Oscar: Rocky Top
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Sally Goodin
Billy Grammer: Just A Closer Walk With Thee

11:00: Coca-Cola
Billy Walker (host): Sing Me A Love Song To Baby
Earl Scruggs Revue: Carolina Boogie
Tommy Jones: Alabama Jubilee
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Earl Scruggs Revue: T For Texas
Sam McGee: Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): Devil Woman
4 Guys: Hello Walls/Big Bad John/Wings Of A Dove
Johnny Russell: Red Necks, White Socks And Blue Ribbon Beer
Ronnie Robbins: Am I Good Enough To Be Your Man/Mama Tried
Marty Robbins: Don't Worry/Love Me/Big Boss Man/I'm Wanting To/El Paso/Singing The Blues

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Opry Wants Key Role In Country Music

(I was going through my Opry archives this evening and came across an article with that headline. The article was from Thursday January 27, 2000 and written by Jim Patterson of the Associated Press. This would have been about 6 months after Pete Fisher took over as the general manager of the Opry. I thought it would be interesting to look back at what was written 14 years ago.)

The Grand Ole Opry was entertaining national audiences before the Internet and cable televison came into existence. It predates television, too. It is the longest continuously running radio show in the country. Every Saturday night since 1925, the Opry has been beamed out on AM radio and heard as far away as Canada on 50,000-watt, clear channel WSM. The TNN cable channel airs 30 minutes of each of the current three 2 1/2-hour shows each week.

"A lot of folks love and treasure the Opry for presenting country music's legacy," said general manager Pete Fisher, who was hired six months ago. "They want it to play a key role in today's country music, and also in tomorrow's music. That's our focus and the vision we have for it."

During January, the show is playing at the downtown Ryman Auditorium, home of the Opry from 1943-1974. At the Jan. 8 show, Porter Wagoner wore a purple suit studded with rhinestones. The songs of Hank Williams and Dottie West were performed. Several performers dedicated their numbers to their moms or dads. Most of that is business as usual for the Opry. The return to the historic Ryman Auditorium is just and extended visit while the suburban Grand Ole Opry House is being upgraded. More Ryman Opry shows are likely in the future, Fisher said.

Along with mainstays Wagoner and Bill Anderson, artists on the Jan. 8 bill included relative newcomers Jo Dee Messina and the hot band Lonestar. "I want to make certain that the Opry is evolving, and being able to attract contemporary artists has a lot to do with providing a performance environment, whether it's lighting, sound, staging or staff band musicians, so that they can present the best performance possible," said Fisher, who has replaced several longtime house band members with musicians he says are more versatile.

"(Changing the band) really was about the unique need that we have in a staff band musician, and that is a musician who can play not only the traditional music in a very authentic fashion, but also the contemporary music."

The most visable and welcome change has been the booking of so-called alternative country artists. Iris DeMent and Gillian Welch have played the Opry in recent months. So has Don Walser, 65, who had been trying to get on the show for years. "Oh, boy, that was the thrill of my life!" Walser said about his Opry debut. "They even said they were going to have me back on the televised part one of these days. It's something I've dreamed about all of my life. I guess I got on because a new guy is booking the show."

Fisher is looking for performers who fit into the Opry show, which attempts to present every facet of country music from square dancing to the latest hit-makers. "In many regards, what we consider to be progressive and alternative in country music is really just ultratraditional," Fisher said. "Gillian Welch is perceived as an alternative and progressive artist, but she does that by really getting to the core of traditional country music."

Fisher is also trying to address a long-standing complaint that many of the big stars that are cast members rarely show up to perform. Cast members are expected to perform at the Opry at least 12 times a year. "In the early days of the Opry, the Opry WAS country music," Fisher said. "Participating in the Opry was the best thing you could do for your career. I acknowledge the fact that the Opry is not the center and magnet that it once used to be. The way I can win the artist over is to work toward an Opry that really can be an important component to an artist's career." He cites as an example singer Brad Paisley, who appeared more than 20 times last year.

"He has acknowledged the Opry," Fisher said. "That was something we didn't ask for and something we didn't expect, but he really made a point to give us some credit. The future of the Opry is very bright, when you look at situations like that."

(An interesting article to look back on, especially seeing what direction the Opry has taken in the last 14 years).

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Grand Ole Opry 3/21/& 3/22

After all the excitement last weekend with the 40th anniversary of the Opry House, it is back to normal for the Opry this weekend with two shows, the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry.

The Friday Night Opry will feature Opry members Oak Ridge Boys, who will be hosting a segment. If my records are right, this will be their first time as hosts, as the Opry continues to add some new faces as hosts. Also appearing on Friday night will be Opry member Charlie Daniels. Guest artists will include one of my favorites, Kathy Mattea, along with The Grascals.

The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night will feature guest artists The Black Lillies, The Steeldrivers, Wild Blue Country, who is making their annual appearance, and the ever present Chris Janson.

Friday March 21
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Kim Richey; The Whites
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Caitlin Rose; The Grascals
8:15: Oak Ridge Boys (host); Greg Bates; Kathy Mattea
8:45: Connie Smith (host); Charlie Daniels Band

Saturday March 22
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Striking Matches; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Wild Blue Country; The Steeldrivers
8:15: The Whites (host); Jean Shepard; Chris Janson; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Connie Smith (host); The Black Lillies

When all is said and done, just 6 Opry members each night.

This week at the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree, the host will be Jesse McReynolds, who will be saluted on his 50th year as an Opry member. I am sure there will be some guest artists with him and some surprises.

Looking back at past Grand Ole Opry line-ups, I have 2 for this week. First is from Saturday March 23, 1974. This would be the 2nd show to have taken place at the new Grand Ole Opry House. Of course, the opening night featured most of the Opry's members. The 2nd week it was back to business as usual with the Opry line-up. Not a bad line-up, but one that was close to normal for the times. A couple of guest artists including Merle Kilgore and Jimmy Dickens, who was not an Opry member at that time.

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Willis Brothers (host): Truck Stop
Merle Kilgore: Wolverton Mountain
Willis Brothers: Cool Water

6:45: Rudy's
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Poor Ellen Smith
Justin Tubb: Rambling Man
Del Wood: Keep On The Firing Line
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Coming Down From God

7:00: Rudy's
Roy Acuff (host): When I Lay My Burdens Down
Jean Shepard: At The Time
Jimmy Dickens: Take An Old Cold Tater
Minnie Pearl: Maple On The Hill
Jean Shepard: Second Fiddle
Jimmy Dickens: We Could

7:30: Standard Candy
Stu Phillips (host): Pride
Dottie West: Country Sunshine
Johnny Carver: Tie A Yellow Ribbon
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Soldier's Joy
Stu Phillips: I'd Rather Be Sorry
Dottie West: Last Time I Saw Him
Stu Phillips: There Must Be Another Way To Say Goodbye

8:00: Martha White
Roy Drusky (host): Second Hand Rose
Connie Smith: Dallas
Ernie Ashworth: Honky-Tonk Hardwood Floor
Louie Roberts: Don't Worry/Tonight Carmen
Roy Drusky: One Day At A Time
Connie Smith: He Touched Me
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Roy Drusky: Alone With You

8:30: Stephens
Jim Ed Brown (host): Stay A Little Longer
4 Guys: Hello Walls/Big Bad John/Wings Of A Dove
Stan Hitchcock: The Same Old Way
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Jim Ed Brown: Sometimes Sunshine
4 Guys: Down By The Lazy River
Stan Hitchcock: You Gave Me A Mountain
Cates Sisters: Uncle Pen

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Big Midnight Special
Willis Brothers: Bob
Ernie Ashworth: Honky-Tonk Hardwood Floor
Merle Kilgore: Ring Of Fire
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: I Dreamed About Mama Last Night
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Stoney Cooper: Golden Slippers

10:00: Fender
Roy Drusky (host): Strangers
Dottie West: Country Sunshine/Last Time I Saw Him
Roy Drusky: Don't It Make You Want To Go Home

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Del Wood: There's A Big Wheel
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

10:30: Trailblazer
Justin Tubb (host): Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
Jean Shepard: At The Time
Johnny Carver: Country Lullaby
Justin Tubb: Traveling Singing Man

10:45: Beech Nut
Stu Phillips (host): Crystal Chandeliers
Connie Smith: Dallas
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Cotton-Eyed Joe
Stu Phillips: A Castle; A Cabin

11:00: Coca-Cola
Jim Ed Brown (host): Southern Loving
Jimmy Dickens: Out Behind The Barn
Cates Sisters: Uncle Pen
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin Hen
Jim Ed Brown: Why Me Lord?
Jimmy Dickens: John Henry
Sam McGee: Farewell Blues/Alabama Jubilee/Just Because
Jim Ed Brown: Pop A Top

11:30: Elm Hill
4 Guys (host): Cottonfields/Maria
Stan Hitchcock: I'm Back In Baby's Arms
Louie Roberts: Just A Little Lovin/Anytime/Bouquet Of Roses/Cattle Call
4 Guys: Fall Away
Stan Hitchcock: Just Call Me Lonesome
4 Guys: Let Me Be There

Quite a difference from the weekend before!!

The 2nd line-up that I want to feature this week is from 46 years ago, Saturday March 23, 1968. On this particular night, Johnny Cash performed on the Opry. At the time, he was about the biggest name in country music and performed 2 spots on the show. As with the previous show listed, quite a few guest artists on this show.

7:30: Standard Candy
Billy Walker (host): Let's Think About Living
Willis Brothers: Bob
Rita Faye: Hide Away Honey
Cousin Jody: Mr. Fernsworth's Rooster
Billy Walker: Sundown Mary
Harold Weakley: Since Never
Willis Brothers: Drivings In My Blood
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away

8:00: Martha White
Flatt & Scruggs (host): Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms
Hank Locklin: Country Hall Of Fame
Cheryl Poole: I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
Pete Sayers: I Washed My Face In The Morning Dew
Flatt & Scruggs: Foggy Mountain Breakdown
Crook Brothers: Cotton-Eyed Joe

8:30: Stephens
Bobby Lord (host): Live Your Life Out Loud
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Bobby Lewis: Love Me And Make It All Better
Archie Campbell: The Cock Fight
Bobby Lord: When The Snow Falls
Dick Miles: The Last Goodbye
Archie Campbell & Lorene Mann: The Dark End Of The Street
Bobby Lord: Hawkeye

9:00: Luzianne
Roy Drusky (host): Strangers
Dottie West: Here Come My Baby
Johnny Cash: Folsom Prison Blues/Guess Things Happen That Way/I Still Miss Someone/Orange Blossom Special/I Walk The Line
Johnny Cash & June Carter: Jackson
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Alabama Gal
Dottie West: Paper Mansions
Roy Drusky: Anymore

9:30: Kellogg's
Hank Snow (host): Caribbean
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Bill Carlisle: Leave That Liar Alone
Terry Green: Jambalaya.Hey Good Lookin
Hank Snow: These Hands
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Chubby Wise: Florida Blues
Hank Snow: Conscience, I'm Guilty

10:00: Fender
Billy Walker (host): Cross The Brazos At Waco
Ernie Ashworth: Mind Your Own Business
Cousin Jody: Steel Guitar Rag
Billy Walker: Drinking Champagne

10:15: Pure
Bobby Lord (host): Shadows On The Wall
Cheryl Poole: Swinging Blue
Dick Miles: The Last Goodbye
Bobby Lord: Live Your Life Out Loud

10:30: Buckley's
Flatt & Scruggs (host): Nine Pound Hammer
Archie Campbell & Lorene Mann: The Dark End Of The Street
Flatt & Scruggs: Who Will Sing For Me/Foggy Mountain Breakdown

10:45: Newport
Hank Locklin (host): Before The Next Teardrop Falls
Pete Sayers: Take This Hammer
Crook Brothers: Sally Goodin
Hank Locklin: Love Song For You

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Miller's Cave
Johnny Cash: Big River/Give My Love To Rose/Folsom Prison Blues/Ring Of Fire/Understand Your Man
Johnny Cash & June Carter: Jackson
Kenny Roberts: She Taught Me To Yodel
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Old Joe Clark
Hank Snow: Trouble In Mind
Sam McGee: Railroad Blues

11:30: Lava
Roy Drusky (host): Alone With You
Bill Carlisle: I've Waited Too Long
Dottie West: Night Train To Memphis/Wabash Cannonball
Terry Green: There Goes My Everything
Roy Drusky: Peel Me A Nanner
Bill Carlisle: What Kind Of Deal Is This
Dottie West: Funny, Familiar, Forgotten Feeling
Roy Drusky: Weakness In A Man

For those keeping track, Johnny Cash performed for 12 minutes during his 1st spot and 11 minutes on the 2nd. Also, interesting that Dottie West did 2 Roy Acuff numbers during the last segment.

Finally, here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, March 25:

7:00: Gwen Sebastian; Jesse McReynolds
7:30: Chase Rice; John Conlee
8:15: Parmalee; Connie Smith
8:45: Easton Corbin; Craig Morgan

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Grand Ole Opry House 40th Anniversary Recap

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Grand Ole Opry's 40th anniversary weekend of the Grand Ole Opry House. I attended all 3 shows and I have to tell you, it was a very good weekend of Opry shows. With the line-up that was announced, along with some special guests, it was everything you would have wanted. I would have to say that Saturday's 1st show was probably the best Opry show I have attended since the Opry's 75th anniversary show back in 2000. It was that entertaining, and I will say that the 2nd show on Saturday was not far behind. Both Saturday shows were sold out and from what I could determine, the Friday night show was about 95% sold. All 3 shows offered a good mix of Opry veterans, new artists and variety.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry had a dramatic beginning and to set the scene, I need to remind everyone how the Opry started their first show at the Opry House 40 years ago. On that night, before a packed house, the lights were dimmed, the curtain rose, and there was a huge white scrim. Projecting on it was the picture of George Hay from the 1940 movie Grand Ole Opry. "First, we're gonna hear from Roy Acuff and his Smoky Mountain Boys," the movie voice of George Hay said. "Smoke it up, Roy!" And there was Roy Acuff. A young Acuff from thirty-four years earlier. Dark-haired and serious. Brother Oswald's dobro began and Roy began to sing "Wabash Cannonball" in a slower, serious tone. Then the scrim began to slowly rise and through it the audience could see Roy Acuff and his Smoky Mountain Boys live on the stage, making a perfect musical segue from the film to the live performance on the new Opry stage. As the stage lights came on, standing behind Roy was the Opry cast.

On Saturday night, after the Carrie Underwood introductory video, the curtain stayed down as did the large video screen. After a few seconds pause, up on the screen was the replay of the 1974 Roy Acuff introduction and performance. Then, as the screeen faded from the black and white Acuff to the color Acuff, the big red curtain and video screen went up and up on the stage was the Opry cast, all who were scheduled to appear Saturday night, singing "Wabash Cannonball." Yes, all were there singing, including Blake Shelton, Clint Black, Miranda Lambert, and joined by surprise artists Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs and Jimmy Dickens. Jimmy was down in front and was just standing. Old Crow Medicine Show provided the back up music. Bobby Osborne and Ricky Skaggs played the musical breaks and Josh Turner, among others, sang the verse with everyone on the chorus. It was as dramatic of a start as I have seen and the audience responded with a long ovation.

The show then started with Diamond Rio hosting the 1st segment. I know I mentioned a few weeks ago when they were on that they sounded off key and "terrible." But Saturday, they sounded just fine. The Whites were next followed by Green River Ordinance. The Whites did one number, rather quickly. Green River Ordinance was making their Opry debut, and are from Fort Worth, Texas. They sounded fine, no complaints. The 2nd segment was hosted by Connie Smith. She brought out Marty Stuart as a surprise guest and he played "Orange Blossom Special" on the mandolin. Josh Turner followed and did 2 songs including "Long Black Train." Then another surprise as Old Crow Medicine Show came out. 1st song was "CC Rider" and then came "Wagon Wheel." Yes, the audience was singing along, as they do at all Old Crow appearances. In my mind, they add much to the Opry.

The 3rd segment was hosted by Bill Anderson and he brought out Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press, who did the classic "Rocky Top." Next out was Clint Black, who was without a band. He did a new number, joking about playing something "uptempo." After a short introduction and Cracker Barrel plug, he began to sing the duet song "When I Said I Do." When it came to her part, Clint's wife, Lisa Hartman Black walked out and the audience went wild. They did the song perfect. Square Dancers followed with Earl White, and then Bill did "I Wonder If God Likes Country Music."

The final segment was the one that most in the audience was waiting for. Riders In The Sky were the hosts and Miranda Lambert was out next. Now, I know many think she is not really country and that can be debated, but I will say she did a very nice job. After a commercial, Blake Shelton was next. He received a great reception, did one song, followed by a duet with his wife Miranda. After they were finished, the curtain was down and the show was over. When all was said and done, the show ran over by about 20 minutes.

What was also nice was the playing of several videos during the show. When Connie Smith, Bobby Osborne and Bill Anderson were introduced, the video screen played a portion of their performance from the opening night 40 years before. Also played were clips of President Richard Nixon playing "God Bless America", and the President and Roy doing the yo-yo. All in all, an outstanding show.

The 2nd show was almost a reply of the 1st. There was the same introduction, with the exception of no Jimmy Dickens. Instead of The Whites, Jean Shepard was on and Jeannie Seely hosted the 2nd segment instead of Connie Smith. Marty Stuart only appeared on the first show. Except for the start of the two shows, Ricky Skaggs did not perform. While Jimmy Dickens was there for the introduction of first show, he did not appear again on stage. Most of the artists did the same songs on the 2nd show, with the exception of Riders In The Sky and Blake Shelton. And they did the video clips of Jean Shepard and Jeannie Seely. The 2nd show lasted until just before midnight.

Looking back to the Friday Night Opry, it was another solid show. Crystal Gayle did her usual good job, Jimmy C Newman was fine as was Jesse McReynolds. Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan were on the final segment, along with Scotty McCreery, who the younger fans loved.

What did surprise me was that there was no Opry membership invitation given to Miranda Lambert. I really expected that, as did a few others. It seemed to be set up perfectly for an invitation.My wife, in fact, was at a show Saturday night at the Ryman and one of the ushers asked where I was. My wife said I was at the Opry and the usher responded by saying that she heard Miranda Lambert was going to become a member. Well, like we all know, it didn't happen.

After Saturday's show, the Midnight Jamboree followed with Barbara Fairchild hosting, with The Whites and Connie Smith stopping by.

It was a fine weekend for the Opry!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Grand Ole Opry 3/14 & 3/15

The Grand Ole Opry will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Grand Ole Opry House this weekend. In addition to the Friday Night Opry, Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will have 2 shows for the first time this year.

The reason for the 2 Saturday shows is the appearance of a couple of Opry members who seem to have lost their way to the Opry House. Blake Shelton and Clint Black will be appearing, Josh Turner and Diamond Rio. The big-name guest artist for Saturday night will be Blake's wife, Miranda Lambert. She is promoting some new product and I am sure she will be singing some selections from the new CD. Saturday's show will also feature the "Opry debut of the week", which this week is Green River Ordinance

The Friday Night Opry will feature Opry members Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis, along with guest artists Crystal Gayle, Chuck Wicks and Scotty McCreery, all of whom are frequent Opry guests. And we cannot forget the "Nashville" connection and this week it is Lennon & Maisy.

Friday March 14
7:00: Nashville Irish Step Dancers; Riders In The Sky (host); Jenn Bostic; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Connie Smith (host); Chuck Wicks; Crystal Gayle
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds; Lennon & Maisy
8:45: Lorrie Morgan & Pam Tillis (hosts); Scotty McCreery

Saturday March 15
1st show
7:00: Diamond Rio (host); The Whites; Green River Ordinance
7:30: Connie Smith (host); Josh Turner
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Clint Black; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Miranda Lambert; Blake Shelton

2nd show
9:30: Diamond Rio (host); Jean Shepard; Green River Ordinance
10:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Josh Turner
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Clint Black; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Miranda Lambert; Blake Shelton

I do have a couple of comments. First, the line-ups are pretty strong as far as "star-power," especially on Saturday night. But I really expected something more when the 40th anniversary was announced. Maybe I was thinking a few more Opry members and more of the veterans who were there that opening night. That would have added a nice salute to the show. I know there are just a few left, but it would have been nice. On Saturday night, there is a slot open on both shows. Perhaps a special surprise guest, or maybe Jimmy Dickens. Or maybe nothing and we get what we get.

I will be in Nashville this weekend and will be at all 3 shows (providing I can get out of Canton!!! Another winter storm today). Seriously, I will make it and am looking forward to the Opry. This will be my first trip since the birthday bash in October, which is about the longest stretch for me between shows. And as usual, I will provide updates when I get back.

For this week's look back into Grand Ole Opry history, I go to Saturday March 15, 1975, which was the 1st anniversary of the Opry House. What made this show special was that flood waters from the Cumberland River forced the Opry to move downtown to the Municipal Auditorium. Unlike 2010, the Opry House was not damaged, it was just a case of the parking lots being flooded. What made this show so special was that it was also the annual Old-Timer's night and the Opry had guest appearances by former members DeFord Bailey, Alcyonne Beasley, Zeke Clements, Maybelle Carter, Duke of Paducah and the Tennessee Sweethearts, Clyde & Marie Dilleha.

1st show
6:00: Vietti
Charlie Walker (host): Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Jimmy Dickens: Sleeping At The Foot Of The Bed
Marion Worth: Delta Dawn
Justin Tubb: Sunshine Lady
Charlie Walker: The Last Supper
Jimmy Dickens: Life Turned Her That Way
Marion Worth: Put You Hand In The Hand
Charlie Walker: Odds & Ends

6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Jerry Clower (host): The Last Piece Of Chicken
4 Guys: Let Me Be There
Del Wood: Keep On The Firing Line
Jerry Clower: How I Backed Into Show Business

6:45: Rudy's
Charlie Louvin (host): See The Big Man Cry
Lonzo & Oscar: When I Stop Dreaming
Bill Carlisle: Have A Drink On Me
Charlie Louvin: I've Just Gotta Know

7:00: Rudy's
Ray Pillow (host): Countryfied
Jean Shepard: The Tips Of My Fingers
Billy Grammer: Just A Closer Walk With Thee
Stonewall Jackson: Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Thank God I'm Free
Jean Shepard: Seven Lonely Days
Ray Pillow: The Simple Things In Life

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
DeFord Bailey: Pan American Blues/Fox Chase/John Henry
Alcyonne Beasley: Silver Threads Among The Gold
Duke Of Paducah: If You Knew Susie/Toot-Toot Tootsie/Baby Face
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Gray Eagle

8:00: Martha White
Minnie Pearl: (host)
Zeke Clements: Why Should I Cry Over You/Somebody's Been Beating My Time/Just A Little Lovin
Maybelle Carter: Wildwood Flower
Tenneessee Sweethearts: Peggy O'Neil
Stu Phillips: Have I Told You Lately That I Love You/You Win Again/Release Me

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Jeanne Pruett: Just Like Your Daddy
Clyde Moody: I Know What It Means To Be Lonesome
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Hank Snow: Paper Roses

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Stonewall Jackson (host): Don't Be Angry
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Jimmy Dickens: May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose
Stu Phillips: Loving You; Still Loving You
Lonzo & Oscar: The Crawdad Song
Stonewall Jackson: Washed My Hands In Muddy Water

10:00: Fender
Charlie Walker (host): Don't Squeeze My Sharmin
Jerry Clower: A New Bull
Marion Worth: Burning Bridges
Charlie Walker: The Last Supper

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Old Time Sunshine Song
Jean Shepard: The Tips Of My Fingers
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

10:30: Trailblazer
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Poor Ellen Smith
Charlie Louvin: When You Have To Fly Alone
Ray Pillow: Excuse Me/Slippin' Around
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Coming Down From God

10:45: Beechnut
Billy Grammer (host): Under The Double Eagle
Bill Carlisle: Too Old To Cut The Mustard
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Liberty
Billy Grammer: Somewhere My Love

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Hello, Love
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Justin Tubb: Lonesome 7-7203
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldiers Joy
Jeanne Pruett: Just Like Your Daddy
Sam McGee: Farewell Blues/Alabama Jubilee/Just Because
Hank Snow: I've Cried A Mile

11:30: Elm Hill
4 Guys (host): Down By The Lazy River
Del Wood: Piano Roll Blues/Are You From Dixie
Clyde Moody: The Prisoner's Song
4 Guys: Cottonfields/Maria

The last segment was running short as the show was running pretty long. Also, I notice no bluegrass acts. My guess is there must have been a pretty big festival somewhere that most of them were at. Finally, you will notice that Minnie Pearl "hosted" a segment. So as not to go against Opry policy at the time, which was to have only male performers as segment hosts, Minnie was considered the "M.C." of the segment and not the "host."

As an additional treat for this week, I have the line-up from the Friday Night Opry, March 14, 1975, 40 years ago this weekend:

7:30: Varallo
Charlie Walker (host): Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Willis Brothers: Cool Water
Lonzo & Oscar: When I Stop Dreaming
Charlie Walker: The Last Supper
Stonewall Jackson: Washed My Hands In Muddy Water
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Becky Gallion: Let Me Be There
Charlie Walker: Stay A Little Longer

8:00: Tennessee Pride/Borax
Del Reeves (host): But I Do
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Bob Luman: Still Loving You
Del Reeves: Lay A Little Loving On Me
Jeanne Pruett: Just Like Your Daddy
Del Reeves: White Lightening

8:30: Kroger/Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Billy Grammer: Wednesday Night Waltz
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Big Midnight Special
Roy Acuff: Back In The Country
Billy Grammer: Detroit City
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: I Couldn't Care Less
Roy Acuff: I Saw The Light

9:00: Baltz Bros./Schlitz
George Morgan (host): In The Misty Moonlight
Jean Shepard: At The Time
Jimmy Dickens: Family Reunion
Bill Carlisle: Little Liza Jane
George Morgan: Mr. Ting-A-Ling
Jean Shepard: The Tips Of My Fingers
Jimmy Dickens: I'd Rather Sleep In Peace, Then Know Your Gone
Bill Carlisle: I'm Moving

9:30: Acme Boot/Beechnut
Jerry Clower (host): Comedy
Barbara Mandrell: Wonder When My Baby's Coming Home
4 Guys: Turn Your Radio On
Jerry Clower: The She-Coon Of Women's Lib
Barbara Mandrell: Johnny B. Goode
4 Guys: Country Lullaby

10:00: Cee Bee
Jim Ed Brown (host): Broad-Minded Man
Dottie West: Last Time I Saw Him
Stu Phillips: Love You All Over Again
Jim Ed Brown: Bar Room Pals & Good Time Gals
Dottie West: The Bitter They Are
Stu Phillips: Loving You; Still Loving You
Jim Ed Brown: Sometimes Sunshine/Southern Loving

10:30: Shoney's
Charlie Louvin (host): (?)
Marion Worth: (?)
Justin Tubb: (?)
Del Wood: (?)

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

March 16, 1974-Opening Night of Grand Ole Opry House

It will be 40 years ago next Saturday night, March 16, 1974, that the new Grand Ole Opry House opened. It was one of the greatest nights in the history of the Grand Ole Opry, which also included the first visit by a President of the United States to the Opry.

I do this each year, but for the new readers, here is the actual running order of the shows that night, and then some comments that I have added at the end, as I look back 40 years later:

1st show
Roy Acuff: You Are My Sunshine
Howdy Forrester: Fiddle Tune
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: Marcel'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
President Richard Nixon: Happy Birthday, Mrs. Nixon/My Wild Irish Rose
Roy Acuff & Cast: Stay A Little Longer
President Richard Nixon & Cast: 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 & Diane 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: Countryfied
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

Before getting into the 2nd show, a few notes regarding the 1st show. The show lasted until 10:15. The Presidential portion lasted from 7:35-8:05. The artists pretty much went in alphabetical order with Grant Turner, Hairl Hensley doing most of the introductions and Ralph Emery doing interviews between shows. The 2nd show started at 10:47 and lasted until 1:55. Here is that running order and you will notice that while most of the artists stayed in alphabetical order, not all did. And yes, even on opening night, Marty Robbins played only the 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 Floors
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 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 Shoulder
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: Countryfied
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

Those who only did the first show were Hank Locklin, Lonzo & Oscar, Jean Shepard and the Willis Brothers.

The Opry members who were not there that night were Archie Campbell, Bill Carlisle, Lester Flatt, David Houston, George Jones, Bob Luman, Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, Earl Scruggs, Billy Walker and Tammy Wynette. Bill Monroe was not there, but he called in during the 1st show.

Bobby Bare was not scheduled and in fact quit the Opry when it moved to the new Opry House. His final show as a member was the night before. And Tom T Hall was scheduled and did not appear. Of course, he also quit the show.

Looking back 40 years later, of those who appeared on the opening night of the Grand Ole Opry House, 13 are still Opry members today.

That list includes Bill Anderson, Jim Ed Brown, Stonewall Jackson, Jesse McReynolds, Jeanne Pruett, Jimmy C Newman, Bobby Osborne, Dolly Parton, Stu Phillips, Ray Pillow, Jeannie Seely, Jean Shepard and Connie Smith.

Of those 13, you can say that Bill Anderson, Jim Ed Brown, Jesse McReynolds, Jimmy C Newman, Bobby Osborne, Jeannie Seely, Jean Shepard and Connie Smith are the only ones who appear on the Opry on a regular basis.

Jeanne Pruett is retired, while Stonewall Jackson, Dolly Parton, Stu Phillips and Ray Pillow appear infrequently.

Of those who were members but did not appear that night, Bobby Bare quit the show, while Barbara Mandrell is retired, Loretta Lynn hardly appears and Tom T never appears.

2 other names to mention from that night. First, the 4 Guys were Opry members but were fired from the show, while I do want to mention Earl White, the last link to the square dance bands.

And 2 names missing that you would think would be on the list. George Hamilton IV and Jimmy Dickens were not Opry members at the time of the Opry House opening. Both had quit the show, but both would also return to be loyal members.

To say the Opry is a shell of what it once was would be an understatement. We know that this weekend's line-up will be nothing like opening night, but we can hope that they will come up with a good show. If nothing else, it would be great if those living members who were there 40 years ago were invited back this Saturday night.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Grand Ole Opry 3/7 & 3/8

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend, the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry.

The Friday Night Opry will feature Gerry House as a guest. He has just written a book on his life in country music. Most of you probably know that Gerry was/is a top rated country music DJ in Nashville. Interesting that he was on a station that directly competed with WSM for many, many years. Joining Gerry on Friday, who is also doing a book signing, will be guest artists Chris Janson, who has been on the Opry the past two years more then most of the members, Elizabeth Cook, Restless Heart and Darryl Worley.

Satuday's Grand Ole Opry will feature the fine bluegrass duo, The Gibson Brothers, along with Drake White and Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys. Also appearing Saturday night will be Blackie and The Rodeo Kings. No, I didn't make up that name. They are described as a "Canadian folk rock/alternative country band with blues and country influences." Yep, just what the Opry needs. I am pretty sure it is their first Opry appearance.

Friday March 7
7:00: Connie Smith (host); Chris Janson; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: The Whites (host); Elizabeth Cook; Restless Heart
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Amber Carrington; Gerry House
8:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jesse McReynolds; Darryl Worley

Saturday March 8
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Drake White; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Janelle Arthur; Blackie and The Rodeo Kings
8:15: The Whites (host); Jean Shepard; Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Craig Campbell; The Gibson Brothers

I am glad that they were able to round up 6 Opry members for each show. Also, Bill Anderson will be hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree. With the time changing this weekend, it will be a short Saturday night for those of us listening in the eastern time zone.

On another note, it was announced that finally Jean Shepard's autobiography will be released on April 15. I know that this is years in the making and I hope it is as candid as Jean has mentioned it might be. Either way, it should be a great book.

For this week's look back into Grand Ole Opry history, I go to Saturday March 9, 1974. Since next week is the 40th anniversary of the Grand Ole Opry House, it would make sense that it is also the 40th anniversary of the final Opry show at the Ryman Auditorium. This was also the final Saturday night Opry show for Bobby Bare as a member of the Opry as he did not like the move to the new Opry House and quit. (Bobby did appear on the final Friday Night Opry show the following week). Additionally, it was at the time, the final Opry show for Tom T Hall, who also quit the Opry. Tom T would of course, rejoin the show in 6 years later and remains a member to this day. While Bobby Bare never would rejoin the Opry, he has continued to appear at Opry shows.

Here is the Opry line-up from Saturday 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: 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 & The 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
Jan Howard: My Kind Of People
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: Kellogg's
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
Skeeter Willis: 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: Beech-Nut
Billy Grammer (host): Gotta Travel On
Jerry Clower: The Coon Hunt
Crook Brothers & The 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

The Opry that night lasted until 12:20 a.m. and as you could imagine, with was a very emotional night. Minnie Pearl especially was saddened by all the memories that were being left behind. After the show, Marty Robbins sat outside on the steps of the Ryman signing autographs and visiting with the fans.

On a final note, for it being the last Saturday night at the Ryman, a lot of the star power was missing that night.

The 2nd line-up is from Saturday March 9, 1996 as this was Bill Monroe's final Opry show. Bill was one of the early stars of the Opry, joining the show in October 1939 and would remain a loyal member until ill health forced him to retire. Bill passed away in September 1996 after a serious of strokes left him in declining health.

Here is Bill Monroe's final Opry show, Saturday March 9, 1996:

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Bill Monroe (host): My Sweet Blue-Eyed Darling
Jim Ed Brown: I Heard The Bluebird Sing
Bill Monroe: I've Found A Hiding Place

6:45: Joggin' In A Jug
Grandpa Jones (host): Mountain Dew
Mike Snider: Leaning On The Everlasting Arms
Grandpa Jones: Any Old Time

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Dooley
Oswald: Worry, Worry Blues
The Whites: Making Believe
Bill Carlisle: Go Home
Ricky Skaggs: Highway 40 Blues
Porter Wagoner: Sugarfoot Rag

7:30: Standard Candy
4 Guys (host): Amazing Grace
Stu Phillips: Colorado
Charlie Walker: Smoke, Smoke, Smoke
4 Guys: We're Only Here For A Little While
Opry Ladies (Wilma Lee Cooper, Connie Smith, Skeeter Davis, Jan Howard, Jeanne Pruett, Jeannie Seely, Jean Shepard): Have I Told You Lately That I Love You/You Are My Sunshine

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Family Reunion
Karen Briemer: Just A Closer Walk With Thee
Stonewall Jackson: Life To Go
Jim & Jesse: Paradise
Opry Square Dance Band: Sally Goodin
Bill Anderson: Still

8:30: Kraft
Jimmy C Newman (host): La Cajun Band
Roy Drusky: If The Whole World Stopped Loving
John Conlee: I'm Only In It For The Love
Jack Greene: Highway To The Sky
Ray Pillow: Too Many Memories
Jimmy C Newman: (?)/In The Cajun Mood

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Tell Her Lies And Feed Her Candy
Charlie Louvin: I Love You Best Of All
Del Reeves: I Would Like To See You Again
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
The Whites: Pins & Needles
Porter Wagoner & Cristy Lynn: The Last Thing On My Mind

10:00: Massy Ferguson
Grandpa Jones (host): Ball Headed End Of The Broom
Mike Snider: Foggy Mountain Chimes/The Fur Coat
Grandpa Jones: Gooseberry Pie

10:15: Zim's Crack Cream
Bill Monroe (host): It's Mighty Dark For Me To Travel
Jack Greene: He Is My Everything
Bill Monroe: Then Take Courage 'Un Tomorrow

10:30: Gruhn
Bill Anderson (host): Orange Blossom Special
Jean Shepard & Mary Kay James: I'm Not That Good At Goodbyes
Bill Anderson: Golden Guitar

10:45: Fairfield
4 Guys (host): When You Got A Good Woman It Shows
Stonewall Jackson: Waterloo
Opry Square Dance Band: Rachel
4 Guys: Tennessee

11:00: Coca-Cola
Ricky Skaggs (host): I'm Tired
Jimmy C Newman: Cajun Honey
Connie Smith: You And Your Sweet Love
Charlie Walker: Odds & Ends; Bits & Pieces
Jim Ed Brown: The Old Lamplighter
Ricky Skaggs: Loving Only Me

11:30: Loreal
John Conlee (host): Let The Good Times Roll
Jim & Jesse: Dream Of Me
Jeannie Seely: Too Far Gone
Billy Walker: Ashes Of Love/Blue Moon Of Kentucky/That's All Right
John Conlee: Rocking With You

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March Opry Highlights

Welcome to March!! Wherever you are, I hope winter is ending. It has been tough up here in Ohio. As I do each month, here are the important and historical events that have taken place in Grand Ole Opry history, or involving Opry members during the month of March:

March 31, 1934: Opry regular Kitty Cora Cline ended her Opry career. She was the first female solo artist on the show, starting on March 24, 1928. The story goes that she was headed to the Opry to do a show that evening and observed a very serious car accident that bothered her so much that she refused to travel by car again. Thus, she left the show.

March 16, 1946: Future Grand Ole Opry member Grandpa Jones appears on the Opry for the first time. He performs as a member of Pee Wee King's band.

March 1, 1952: Uncle Dave Macon makes his final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Dave was one of the original stars of the Opry. He passed away on March 22 at the age of 82, just 2 weeks after this final performance. Dave would later be one of the first to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

March 21, 1953: Bill Carlisle and the Carlisles make their first guest appearance on the Opry.

March 1, 1958: Following his criticism of the management at WSM radio, Marty Robbins is fired by the Opry. Of course, that did not last and he was quickly back on the show.

March 2, 1963: Opry members Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins make their final Grand Ole Opry appearances. They would pass away along with Patsy Cline and Randy Hughes several days later.

March 9, 1963: The Grand Ole Opry observes a moment of silence for Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Randy Hughes, who all died earlier in the week from a plane crash in Eastern Tennessee. Also included was Jack Anglin, of Johnny & Jack, who died in a car accident that same week. In the tribute read by Opry manager Ott Devine, "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." Some call this the sadest day in the Opry's history.

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 carry on at the Opry as a solo artist.

March 2, 1964: Jim & Jesse McReynolds are invited to become members of the Grand Ole Opry. They would make their first appearance as Opry members later that week. Jim McReynolds passed away on December 31, 2002. Jesse McReynolds remains an active Opry member and will celebrate his 50th anniversary as a member this month.

March 7, 1964: Jim & Jesse McReynolds and Ernie Ashworth make their first appearances as new members of the Grand Ole Opry. In the case of Ernie Ashworth, he would remain an Opry member until his death on March 2, 2009. I always loved the suit with the flaming lips on it. A country classic.

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 at RCA Records and the rest is history. Connie would join the Opry a year later and in 2012 was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

March 9, 1968: Irene Ryan, who played the part of Granny on "The Beverly Hillibillies" makes a special appearance at the Opry.

March 15, 1968: The Byrds, which included Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman play the Opry. The reception was not very good from the fans attending the show. They sang "Sing Me Back Home" and "Hickory Wind." This would be their only Opry appearance.

March 28, 1970: Opry member Marty Robbins makes his first Opry appearance following a heart attack in late January. As usual, Marty returned to host the 11:30 segment and reporter Jerry Thompson, who was there, wrote, "The sound from the jam-packed crowd was deafening. They couldn't hear the words to the songs 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 else 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. This will be her 43rd year as an Opry member. Jan had guested on the Opry so many times prior to becoming a member that Bud Wendell thought she already was. That oversight was corrected that night. Also to note, on March 13, Jan will be celebrating her 84th birthday.

March 9, 1974: The Grand Ole Opry gives its final Saturday night performance at the Ryman Auditorium. The Opry had been at the Ryman since 1943.

March 15, 1974: The Grand Ole Opry conducts its final Friday Night Opry at the Ryman Auditorium. It was an emotional night, so much in fact that both Charlie Walker and Bill Anderson forgot the words to the songs that they performed. The final segment was hosted by George Morgan and ended with his hit, "Candy Kisses." After the Opry, the Rev. Jimmie Snow, son of Hank Snow, hosted "Grand Ole Gospel Time" with special guests Johnny Cash, June Carter, The Carter Family and Hank Snow. The show concluded with "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" and as soon as they were done, the signs were taken down and moved to the new Opry House.

March 16, 1974: The Grand Ole Opry has its first performance at the new Grand Ole Opry House. President Richard Nixon made a special appearance. There was much discussion on which Opry artist would be the first to perform at the new building and Opry management made the decision that the artists would go in alphabetical order, which meant that Roy Acuff was the first, as he wanted to be. Roy said, "I've made my request that if I'm still here when the Opry House opens, let me be the first one to go on stage. I just want to open the curtain and sing two songs. Then they can have it." After Roy's appearance, Bill Anderson was next, and the show went on from there.

March 30, 1974: Earl Scruggs Revue made its final Opry appearance as members. Earl would continue to make guest appearances on the show until he passed away. In fact, later in his life he would express a wish of becoming an Opry member again, but it never happened.

March 14, 1975: The Cumberland River floods in Nashville causing the Opry to move the shows that weekend downtown to the Municipal Auditorium. It is also the first anniversary of the new Opry House. While many thought that the Opry would return to the Ryman for the shows that weekend, the Ryman was in no condition to host any shows. While in this case it was just the parking lots that were flooded, the next time the Cumberland River went over the banks was in 2010 and that time the Opry House was damaged.

March 4, 1978: For the first 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 three years. The Opry did have to make a few changes to the show, including removing all references to their commerical 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 that 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 performs at the Opry, at the invitation of Porter Wagoner. It was a tough night at the Opry as many of the Opry's members refused to welcome him to the Opry and stayed away that night. He performed for almost 20 minutes.

March 23, 1979: Lester Flatt returns to the Opry after suffering a brain hemorrhage the previous November.

March 22, 1980: This was the final Opry show for Opry member Marion Worth. She had joined the Opry in 1965. While she didn't have a spectacular career in country music, she was a popular member of the Opry. Marion would continue to do some shows in Las Vegas after leaving the Opry. She passed away on December 19, 1999.

March 28, 1980: Tom T Hall rejoins the Opry. Tom T had quit the Opry in March 1974 when the Opry moved to the new Opry House. It was 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. Sadly, it has been many years since Tom T has been back to the Opry.

March 1, 1982: Grand Ole Opry member Roy Acuff was honored with a two-hour special that was televised on NBC. All all-star cast of performers and politicians honored Roy, including President Ronald Regan, 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 makes its debut. This network would later become home to the Grand Ole Opry as a half hour of the show was televised each Saturday night, giving many fans their first opportunity to see the show.

March 3, 1984: The Whites become members of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be their 30th year as Opry members.

March 7, 1986: Randy Travis makes his first appearance as a guest at the Opry. He was introduced by Jimmy Dickens and did "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." Randy would become an Opry member later in the year.

March 15, 1996: Bill Monroe makes his final Grand Ole Opry appearance.

March 14, 1998: Opry manager Bob Whittaker invites Diamond Rio to become the newest members of the Opry. They would officially join the cast in April. Additionally that night, Jo Dee Messina would make her Opry debut.

March 13, 1999: Trisha Yearwood becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. She had been invited to join by Ricky Skaggs in January. This will be her 15th year as 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 is long gone.

March 22, 2001: Johnny Russell is honored at a special benefit show at the Opry House to help raise money to cover his medical expenses. Among those performing that night were Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, The Oak Ridge Boys, Ricky Skaggs, Ralph Emery and many others.

March 7, 2003: Grand Ole Opry member Bill Carlisle makes his final Opry appearance. He had joined the show in November 1953. A few days after that show, he suffered a stroke and would pass away on March 17. He was 95 and while battling several health issues, was still a very active member of the Opry.

March 15, 2008: Carrie Underwood is surprised during an Opry appearnce by Randy Travis, and is invited to become the Opry's newest member. The show was televised by GAC. She would formally be inducted as a member in May.

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

March 1, 2011: It was announced that Grand Ole Opry members Reba McEntire and Jean Shepard had been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Many felt that Jean should have been elected many years previously 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.

March 24, 2012: Carol Lee Cooper retires from the Grand Ole Opry after leading The Carolee Singers for over 40 years. She had some voice issues that led to her retirement. The singers are now known as The Opry Singers.

March 5, 2013: The Grand Ole Opry honors Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins on the 50th anniversary of the fatal plane crash. Among those taking part were Jean Shepard, Terri Clark, Mandy Barnett, John Conlee and Chuck Mead.