Thursday, July 14, 2016

Grand Ole Opry 7/15 & 7/16

I wanted to start out with a personal message. Several weeks ago I was interviewed about the Grand Ole Opry by Christina Abt. Her website is The interview that Christina did with me was part of a series called "64 and More" in which she is interviewing interesting people with varied interests across the country. She has started posting parts of the interview that I did and if anyone is interested, please check it out. And I would be curious to know what you think. It was a fun experience that i enjoyed and I hope I expressed myself well. For many of you who have never met or talked to me, it will be a chance for you to see what I really look and sound like!!! Please check it out and thanks. 

As to the Grand Ole Opry this weekend, the big news is that this weekend will be Bill Anderson's 55th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Bill joined the Opry on Saturday July 15, 1961 and I will have more to say about Bill later in the post. I know a few weeks ago there was discussion as to who the face of the Opry is these days, and Bill is certainly one of the Opry's most important members. While not the Opry's most senior member (that honor goes to Jean Shepard at 60+years), he is certainly right up there. 

Joining Bill both nights will be Opry members Connie Smith, John Conlee and Mike Snider. Opry member appearing with Bill, Connie, John and Mike on Friday night will be Larry, Steve and Rudy Gatlin, Bobby Osborne and Hall of Fame member Roy Clark. It is nice to see Roy back on the Opry once again, as this will be his 3rd Opry appearance so far this year, which for Roy, is a pretty good number. As far as Saturday night, outside of John, Mike, Connie and Bill, Jesse McReynolds is the only other Opry member scheduled to appear. 

Guest artists on Friday night include Merle's son, Marty Haggard, along with Jimmy Wayne, Kalisa Ewing, Keith Anderson and Craig Campbell. Saturday's guests include Jackie Lee, Jim Lauderdale, Amber Digby, singer, songwriter and comedian Mark Lowry, Smithfield, T. Graham Brown and "Nashville" star Jonathan Jackson. 

Friday July 15
7:00: Connie Smith (host); Jimmy Wayne; Marty Haggard
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Mike Snider
8:15: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Keith Anderson
8:45: John Conlee (host); Roy Clark; Craig Campbell

Saturday July 16
7:00: John Conlee (host); Jackie Lee
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Amber Digby; Jonathan Jackson
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Jesse McReynolds; Mark Lowry; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Smithfield; T. Graham Brown

That comes out to 12 acts each night, with 7 Opry members on Friday and just 5 on Saturday.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from five years ago, the weekend of July 15 & 16, 2011:

Friday July 15
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Cleverlys; Matt Kennon
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mike Snider; Randy Montana
8:15: George Hamilton IV (host); Stonewall Jackson; Jean Shepard; Michael Grimm
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Jack Greene; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Restless Heart

Saturday July 16
1st show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jeannie Seely; James Wesley
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jean Shepard; Jimmy Wayne
8:00: Ronnie Milsap (host); Riders In The Sky; Darrell McCall; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Connie Smith; Jon Randall; Alison Krauss

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jean Shepard; James Wesley
10:00: Riders In The Sky (host); George Hamilton IV; Jimmy Wayne
10:30: Ronnie Milsap (host); Jan Howard; Darrell McCall; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Connie Smith; Jon Randell

This was also the night that Bill Anderson celebrated 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. 

Now from ten years ago, the weekend of July 14 & 15, 2006: 

Friday July 14
8:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); John Conlee; Rebecca Lynn Howard
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; Trent Tomlinson
9:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); w/Helen Cornelius; The Whites; Pam Tillis
9:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Blue Country; Ray Price

Saturday July 15
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Chuck Mead
7:00: Bill Anderson (host); The Crabb Family; Jeff & Sheri Easter; Gaither Vocal Band
8:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Jack Greene; Pam Tillis; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Steve Wariner (host); John Conlee; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Daryle Singletary

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Jeff & Sheri Easter
10:00: Stu Phillips (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Pam Tillis
10:30: Steve Wariner (host); Gaither Vocal Band; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Jack Greene; The Crabb Family
11:30: John Conlee (host); Chuck Mead; Daryle Singletary

Finally, from 25 years ago, Saturday July 13, 1991:

1st show
6:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Boxcar Willie
6:45: Jack Greene (host); Skeeter Davis
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jeannie Seely; Ray Pillow; 4 Guys; Bill Carlisle
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Charlie Walker; Connie Smith
8:00: Roy Acuff (host); The Whites; Jean Shepard; Hank Locklin; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Osborne Brothers; Wilma Lee Cooper; Roy Drusky

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); 4 Guys; Skeeter Davis; Jim Ed Brown
10:00: Bill Anderson (host); Mike Snider
10:15: Roy Acuff (host); Bill Carlisle
10:30: Boxcar Willie (host); The Whites
10:45: Jack Greene (host); Jean Shepard; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Ray Pillow; Justin Tubb; Connie Smith; Osborne Brothers
11:30: Charlie Walker (host); Hank Locklin; Roy Drusky; Johnny Russell

On Saturday night, Bill Anderson will celebrate 55 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. 

Bill Anderson started his career as a sportswriter and disc jockey in Georgia, but he moved to Nashville in 1958 when Ray Price recorded his song "City Lights" and put it at the top of Billboard magazine's country charts for 13 weeks. Bill soon signed with Decca Records and made his Grand Ole Opry debut just weeks before his 21st birthday, singing his Decca debut, "That's What It's Like to Be Lonesome." Even as Bill had huge hits of his own with songs including "Still," "Po' Folks," "I Love You Drops" and "Bright Lights and Country Music," he continued to write for other artists, too. He discovered Connie Smith at an Ohio talent contest and wrote her debut smash "Once a Day," along with many of her subsequent hits. Many other Opry stars also cut Bill's songs. 

"Connie Smith, Charlie Louvin, Jean Shepard, Porter Wagoner-these people were so good to me back in those days," says Bill. "Each one of them recorded multiple songs of mine, and we had hits together. It was always great. They would come up and say, 'What have you got new?'" But it wasn't just Opry members recording Bill's tunes. He has written a number of songs now considered country classics, including Lefty Frizzell's "Saginaw, Michigan" and Conway Twitty's "I May Never Get to Heaven.

The man the late Opry star Don Gibson called the "sweet singin' songwritin' boy from Georgia joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001, but he hasn't been content to rest on his laurels. Since then he has written hits for the likes of Kenny Chesney ("A Lot of Things Different"), and George Strait ("Give It Away"), as well as fellow Opry stars Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss ("Whiskey Lullaby"), with the last two on that list earning the Country Music Association's Song of the Year Award. Bill also continues to record his own popular albums and has recently completed work on his new autobiography. At the age of 78, Bill is one of the most recognized performers on the Grand Ole Opry today. 

Here is the line-up from Saturday July 15, 1961, the night Bill Anderson became a member of the Grand Ole Opry: 

7:30: Ray Price (host); Cowboy Copas; Bill Monroe; Stringbean; Tommy Jackson; Jan Howard
8:00: Flatt & Scruggs (host); Dick Flood; Bill Anderson; Loretta Lynn; Crook Brothers; Cousin Jake
8:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Bobby Lord; Archie Campbell; Jordanaires; Margie Bowes; Bob Luman
9:00: Roy Drusky (host); Glaser Brothers; Stonewall Jackson; Skeeter Davis; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Cousin Jody
9:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Bill Monroe; Johnny Forbes; Lonzo & Oscar; Mary Bee
10:00: Flatt & Scruggs (host); Jan Howard; Jordanaires
10:15: Bobby Lord (host); Loretta Lynn; Stringbean
10:30: Roy Drusky (host); Margie Bowes; Stonewall Jackson
10:45: Glaser Brothers (host); Cousin Jody; Crook Brothers
11:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Bob Luman; George Hamilton IV; Lonzo & Oscar; Sam & Kirk McGee; Jordanaires; Fruit Jar Drinkers
11:30: Bill Monroe (host); Bill Anderson; Skeeter Davis; Dick Flood; Johnny Forbes

There is one more line-up that I wanted to share, just to show how far the Opry has come. Here is the running order from Saturday July 15, 1944, 72 years ago. 

8:00: Purina
Bill Monroe: Shady Grove
Curly Williams: Open Up Dem Pearly Gates
Bill Monroe: Party on the Turnpike
Texas Ruby: Freight Train Blues
Daniel Quartette: Keep on the Firing Line
Bill Monroe: Mule Skinner's Blues
Uncle Dave Macon: I'm Gonna Leave Here Before Long
Curly Fox: Southern One Eleven
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Mississippi Sawyer
Golden West Cowboys: Riding To Glory
Bill Monroe: I Don't Love Nobody
Uncle Dave Macon: Alabamy Bound
Chubby Wise: Here and There
Daniel Quartette: He Set Me Free

8:30: Crazy Water
Paul Howard: With Tears in My Eyes
Marie and Clyde Dillaha: Speak To Me Little Darling
Crook Brothers: Buff Creek Gal
Eddy Arnold: I Don't Want to Be Buried in the Bottom of the Sea
Poe Sisters: Have I Stayed Away Too Long
Possum Hunters: Billy Wilson
Zeke Clements: Red Wing
Sam, Kirk, and Goldy: Too Late to Ask for Forgiveness
Gully Jumpers: Cincinnati Twostep
Tommy Thompson: Home on the Range
Uncle Rufus: When the Roses Bloom Again
Paul Howard: The Soldier's Last Letter

9:00: Royal Crown
Golden West Cowboys: John Henry
Georgia Peach Pickers: Old Rattler
Ernest Tubb: Tomorrow Never Comes
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Paty on the Turnpike
Becky Barfield: Chime Bells
Curly Fox: Whoa Mule Whoa
Peach Pickers: Dragging the Bow 
Ernest Tubb: With Tears in My Eyes
Golden West Cowboys: Take Me Back to Tulsa
Golden West Cowboys: Soldier's Joy

9:30: Prince Albert
Roy Acuff: Good Old Mountain Dew
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird
Minnie Pearl: Coming Round the Mountain
Jimmy Riddle: Bye Bye Blues
Old Hickory Singer: When It's Lamp Lighting Time
Eddy Arnold: I'll Be the Same
Whitey Ford, The Duke of Paducah: Jokes
Rachel and Oswald: Fire Ball Mail
Mack McGarr: Twelfth Street Rag
Roy Acuff: Hold to God's Unchanging Hand
Square Dancers: Soldier's Joy

10:00: Wallrite
Clyde Moody: I Was Wrong
Sally Ann: Sweet as the Flowers in May
Blue Grass Quartette: The Old Country Church
String Beans: Banjo Picking Gal

10:15: Weather House
Curly Williams: I Told Them All About You
Uncle Dave Macon: I Intend to Make Heaven My Home
Tommy Thompson: Song of the Bandit
Possum Hunters: Take Your Foot Out of the Mud
Curly Williams: There's a New Blue-Eyed Angel in Heaven
Uncle Dave Macon: Come Dearest
Possum Hunters: Miss Sally

10:30: Cherokee Mills
Roy Acuff: House in San Antone
Roy Acuff: Life's Railway to Heaven
Marie and Clyde Dillaha: Tears on My Pillow
Rachel and Oswald: Curly Headed Baby
Jimmy Riddle: Sitting on Top of the World

10:45: Laxyu
Eddie Arnold: Each Minute Seems a Million Years
Daniel Quartette: I Read it in the Book of Revelation
Crook Brothers: Tennessee Wagoner
Eddy Arnold: you Must Walk the Line
Daniel Quartette: I've Found a Hiding Place
Gully Jumpers: Flop-Eared Mule

11:00: Roy Acuff Song Book
Roy Acuff: Easy Rocking Chair
Roy Acuff: We Planted Roses on Our Darling's Grave
Uncle Rufus: Midnight Special
Rachel and Oswald: Weary Lonesome Blues
Jimmy Riddle: Ragging the Rails

11:15: Ernest Tubb Song Book
Ernest Tubb: I've Lived a Lie
Ernest Tubb: Blue Bonnet Lane
Sam, Kirk, and Goldy: Fireball Mail
Ernest Tubb: That's When It's Coming Home To You

11:30: Saf-Kill
Golden West Cowboys: My Little Rooster
Texas Ruby and Curly Fox: There's Someone More Lonesome Than You
Golden West Cowboys: Mother I Thank You for the Bible You Gave Me
Curly Fox: Orange Blossom Special
Georgie Haven: My Confession

11:45: Wild Root
Paul Howard: Dear Old Sunny South by the Sea
Poe Sisters: Echoes From the Hills
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Rocky Mountain
Zeke Clements: I'll Take Her Back
Paul Howard: Blues on My Mind

There you have it. A lot of the early Opry members and hopefully a few memories. 

Congratulations once again to Bill Anderson for 55 years of Opry membership and I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!!


  1. We love Bill Anderson; hoping to see him again in concert. Grieving for Craig Morgan. Will check out your interview - know it will be great.

  2. Fred, Bismarck:

    Thanks, Byron. Loved the '44 lineup, not only for the artists but for the certified-country song titles.

    1. There are quite a few recordings of the Prince Albert Grand Ole Opry radio program located on the website. The sound fidelity on some of them is quite good, as the earlier recordings (1939 - circa 1952) are "electrical transcriptions," that were recorded at 33 1/3 rpm, rather that 78 rpm.
      This is quite a "gold mine!"

      Here's the link:

      - - - Frank Apperson

  3. As always, thanks for the history lesson, Byron. I had one question/observation. I remember watching the TNN broadcast of Bill's 30th Anniversary celebration at the Opry. During the backstage interview show, Bill recalled that Billy Grammer was the one who introduced him on stage the night he was inducted into the Opry. However, Grammer isn't even on the show from July 15, much less a part of the same segment as Anderson. Maybe I misunderstood the question? Maybe Bill was talking about his very first performance ever on the Opry and Grammer introduced him? But, I could almost swear that he said Grammer was the one who inducted him. Do you have any insight on this?

    1. Chris, I don't remember the interview that Bill did. With it being done 25 years ago, it doesn't ring a bell with me. From the line-up I posted, and as you saw, Billy Grammer was not on the Opry the night Bill became a member, and I did go back and take a second look at it to make sure. I would have to look up the date that Bill first appeared on the Opry as a guest and I am not sure I have the line-up from that night or not. It would take come digging.

    2. Billy Grammer did induct Bill Anderson, even though they didnt make a big deal about it like theyve done the last several yrs. Bill said on his 50th Anniversary that Grammer inducted him. His first appearance was around 1959 and Porter Wagoner introduced him. Jonathan

  4. Byron, the interview was terrific. Everyone should take a look and a listen.

    1. Michael: I agree with you about Byron's interview. I just loved it and i thank Christina for doing it. Bob Bien

  5. Byron, Loved the interview. And thank you for posting the July 1944 Opry lineup!! My, oh my, what a contrast between the "classic" Opry and today's program.
    It's kinda like comparing "classic" Coca-Cola and "New Coke." It just ain't the same!! - Frank Apperson

  6. Could it be that Billy Grammer did not perform that night but was there long enough to introduce Bill? Or, Byron. are you looking at a printed program that may not have included Billy if perhaps he appeared on short notice? When Eddie introduced Bill tonight he mentioned Billy as introducing him as a new member 55 years ago tonight.

    I agree that the interview Byron did was great. He hit most all of the points I think most of is here would make.

    Knightsville, IN

  7. Okay, Bill wasn't going into labor! Induct not induce!

    Knigthsville, IN

  8. From Anonymous in PA: Byron, just listened to your interviews on Christinaabt - outstanding commentary. This blog is wonderful and we all really enjoy what you do, but after talking to you at the 90th anniversary weekend, and now hearing these interviews, I sincerely appreciate even more your commitment and know you "have our backs" on trying to save the Opry we love. Thanks. (ps, hope all you other readers/bloggers listen to the interviews)

  9. The sad news is circulating that Bonnie Brown passed away this afternoon after a long struggle with lung cancer.

  10. The Tennessean is reporting the death of Bonnie Brown.

  11. Yes, sad news tonight as former Grand Ole Opry member, and Country Music Hall of Fame member, Bonnie Brown has passed away from lung cancer. Personally, I am glad that all of The Browns were still alive to see their long awaited induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame last year. And who would have thought that Maxine would be the last surviving member of the trio?

  12. More sad news in the music industry; nice comments Byron. On another topic, in my opinion, the top performers on Saturday's Opry show were John Conlee, Mike Snider (audience loved him Fri and Sat), Amber Digby, the second song by Jonathon Jackson, Connie Smith, Jesse McReynolds (disappointed only one song by him), and of course, Bill Anderson.