Saturday, November 28, 2015

Happy Birthday Grand Ole Opry and Glen Thompson

It was 90 years ago this evening, Saturday November 28, 1925, when George D. Hay introduced Uncle Jimmy Thompson, who proceeded to play his fiddle for the next hour. Over the following weeks, he was joined by Dr. Humphrey Bate and then eventually, in January 1926, a number of other acts, and the WSM Barn Dance was underway, eventually to be known as the Grand Ole Opry. It has been reported over the years that the first musical selection that Uncle Jimmy played was "Tennessee Wagoner" and I am sure that is the song that will kick off tonight's Grand Ole Opry show. I know that the Opry celebrates in October with their birthday weekend, but hopefully tonight, the historical significance of this evening is mentioned. 

And not to forget, a very Happy 70th Birthday to the founder and president of the Grand Ole Opry fan club, Glen Thompson. How lucky can one man be to be born on the Opry's birthday and then become one of the Opry's biggest fans? Glen has told me several times about taking the bus to Nashville as a young man to see the Opry for the very first time and he was hooked after that. He always has considered Roy Acuff to be the greatest Opry member of all time, and few can disagree. Females? I think Kitty Wells is at the top of his list. 

Glen is from Kenosha, Wisconsin and for many years he would make the trip to Nashville to see the Opry. And not just once a year, but several times each year. And he never missed a birthday weekend. He came up with the idea of starting a fan club for the Opry and I know many of us were members. He struck up a friendship with Roy Acuff, who encouraged Glen to start the fan club. I can still remember each year receiving my fan club pin, a special gift and the quarterly newsletter. In fact, I do believe in my collection I have every newsletter, pin and memento I ever received.  

I know many of us have met Glen over the years and have always enjoyed his company. So from all of us to Glen, let's all wish him a very special day on his 70th!!! 

Happy Birthday Grand Ole Opry and Happy Birthday Glen Thompson!!


  1. Happy birthday to the Opry and to Glen Thompson. And if Glen is reading this, he will answer if I ask Mr. Acuff's regular question: "Anybody here from Kenosha, Wisconsin?"

    That was always good for quite a whoop. One time, Mr. Acuff called him David. That meant Glen Thompson was truly part of the team, along with Tom P. Hay, that famous songwriter.

  2. Happy 90th Birthday to the Grand Ole Opry!

    And a happy 70th birthday to Glen Thompson and many more! I do not live too far from Kenosha. I was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry fan club. I received my pin, which I still have & what I refer to as a neckerchief, it is white with red & turquoise lettering spelling out Grand Ole Opry Fan Club. When I wrote to Glen to become a member of the fan club, I sent him a letter regarding country music and he replied to my letter, which I have always appreciated. I am sure I have the newsletters, will have to look for them. Probably still boxed up from when I moved to where I currently live over 16 years ago. :-)

    I cannot argue with Roy Acuff being the greatest Opry member of all time and I won't argue with Kitty Wells either. Eddie Stubbs plays one of her songs every night on his radio show always referring to her as the queen of country music and thanking her for bringing him to Music City. She brought Eddie to Nashville 20 years ago as her fiddle player, as I am sure everyone knows. So Kitty Wells did more than just record some of the best country music, she gave us Eddie Stubbs too. Marty Stuart said during the Intimate Evening of Eddie Stubbs this past Monday, there are on-air personalities/dj's and then .... there's Eddie Stubbs ... right on Marty. In my opinion, there is Eddie Stubbs and everyone else pale's in comparison.

    Decided to put that piece of cloth to great use. As I went to Nashville and as I met them, I had only Grand Ole Opry members sign it. I have quite a few - Marty Stuart was the first one, as I was at Fan Fair that year and I was a member of his fan club as well. I have the pin right at his autograph signifying the first autograph on it. One of my most prized possessions.

    Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are having a wonderful Holiday weekend and all good wishes for a great Christmas/Holiday season.


  3. Fred, Bismarck:

    As much as I loved Kitty Wells, I'd have to go with Wilma Lee Cooper as the Opry's greatest "girl" singer, on the grounds of material and longevity on the show.

    Roy as No. 1, overall? No argument from me!

  4. Wilma Lee is one of the most under rated performers of the 40s and 50s, besides which she was also one of the very nicest people I ever met. She almost single-handedly carried the banner for old-time Mountain Music and forged on after Stoney's untimely death. I don't feel like she gets the due she deserves and, of the acts of the 40s & 50s, Wilma Lee & Stoney deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Had she been able to be part of the Oh Brother Where Art Thou movement, I think maybe she would be venerated today the way Ralph Stanley is. Tragically, I fear, she'll be lost to the Hall of Fame voters along with Rose Maddox, Lula Belle & Scotty, Stringbean and the Stanley Brothers. (oldtimeopry)

  5. oldtimeopry: I would tend to agree with you regarding Wilma Lee Cooper, along with Stoney. I do think she is underrated and you could make a case for her, along with Stringbean and the Stanley Brothers to be in the Hall of Fame. I do believe that a lot of why they do not receive serious consideration is because of the early deaths of Stoney, Stringbean and Carter Stanley and also because there is nobody leading the charge to keep them in the public eye and in front of the voters. And sadly, time has passed them by.

  6. Fred, Bismarck:

    And who knows how many of today's voters have the "radio" mentality, with yesteryear's music completely lost on them, unknown or totally foreign?

    Perhaps Byron can refresh our memory on who, exactly, is qualified to vote on the Hall of Fame candidates. If very many of them have their roots in the crap that passes for country today, it's little wonder the Wilma Lees are overlooked.

  7. I will do that in a post this weekend. After all, it is that time again.