Sunday, January 29, 2017

February Opry Highlights

Welcome to February, or as we say here in Ohio, the dead of winter!! As usual, here are the important or historical events that have taken place at the Grand Ole Opry, or in regards to members of the Opry, during the month of February:

February 9, 1914: Grand Ole Opry legend Ernest Tubb was born in Crisp, Texas. Ernest came to the Opry in the early 1940s and immediately became of the Opry's most important and influential members. He was known fro helping new artists and that list includes Hank Snow, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Jack Greene and Cal Smith, among many others. In 1947 he opened the first Ernest Tubb Record Shop and shortly after started the Midnight Jamboree. Ernest was one of the first members to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame and he was a proud supporter of country music and those who came from the state of Texas. Ernest remained an Opry member until his death in 1984, after a period of declining health.

February 18, 1914: Early Grand Ole Opry member Frank Kuczynski was born. Perhaps that name does not ring a bell but his stage name does: Pee Wee King. Pee Wee, along with his Golden West Cowboys, became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1937 and was one of the first professional entertainers to join the cast. Many people forget that Pee Wee came before Roy Acuff. He left the Opry after World War II and moved to Louisville, Kentucky to work in television and eventually his show was broadcast in Chicago, Cincinnati and Cleveland, in addition to Louisville. He always said he would have stayed in Nashville and at the Opry if WSM had branched into television, which they would do later. While leaving the Opry as a member, Pee Wee was a frequent guest. Elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1974, Pee Wee passed away in 2000 at the age of 86.

February 1, 1917: Mary Jane Dezurik was born in Royalton, Minnesota. Along with her sister Carolyn, these former Opry members were known as the Cackle Sisters. They came to the Opry in the 1940s, staying for only a short period of time, eventually moving to Cincinnati. Mary Jane passed away in 1981.

February 25, 1927: Ralph Stanley was born in the Clinch Mountains of Virginia. This bluegrass legend joined the Grand Ole Opry in January 2000. Ralph passed away in 2016.

February 1, 1928: Harry Stone joined WSM radio as a staff announcer. Harry would eventually become the general manager of WSM and become responsible for the Opry. While in that position, he would often clash with Opry founder George D. Hay over the direction of the show. While Judge Hay wanted to keep the rural flavor of the show, Harry saw the value of the show to the National Life & Insurance Company, the owners of WSM, and felt that the show should move into a more professional direction. It was during Harry's time that the Opry moved away from local, amateur talent and began bringing in professional and paid entertainers. Harry remained with WSM until 1950, when he left to pursue new opportunities.

February 17, 1931: Uncle Jimmy Thompson, the first artist to perform on what is now called the Grand Ole Opry passed away. Uncle Jimmy was a part of the Barn Dance until 1927.

February 25, 1932: Faron Young was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. In 1951 Faron joined the Louisiana Hayride, where he stayed until 1954. He then moved to Nashville, becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Faron remained an Opry member until he was fired in December 1964 for failing to meet the required number of annual appearances. While he never rejoined the show, Faron would come back and make occasional guest appearances.

February 2, 1935: The Missouri Mountaineers made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Alcyone Bate described the Mountaineers, who were founded by Jack Shook, as a "sort of Sons of Pioneers group." They stayed with the Opry until 1939.

February 5, 1938: Roy Acuff and his Crazy Tennesseans made their second appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. His first appearance had taken place several months earlier and was not considered a success. This time around, Roy performed "The Great Speckled Bird" and WSM was overwhelmed with an avalanche of mail. As a result, Roy was asked to become an Opry regular, or member, and it became official on February 19. Along with Pee Wee King, Ernest Tubb, Bill Monroe and Eddy Arnold, Roy would help lead the shift of the Opry's focus to professional singers rather than the instrumental groups that had been the main focus of the show. The week after he joined, Harry Stone suggested to Roy that the name of his group be changed and since Roy was from the Knoxville area, he went with Smoky Mountain Boys. Except for a brief year in the 1940s, Roy would remain with the Opry until his death in November 1992.

February 18, 1939: The Andrew Brothers became members of the Grand Ole Opry. They were brought to the Opry specifically to replace the Delmore Brothers, who had left the show. While I have never heard The Andrew Brothers, I have heard that they were fine harmony singers.

February 13, 1943: Ernest Tubb became an official member of the Grand Ole Opry.

February 21, 1948: Jimmy Dickens made his first guest appearance on the Opry. He performed "John Henry" and "I Dreamed of An Old Love Affair." Several months later, Jimmy would become a member of the Opry.

February 2, 1949: Future Grand Ole Opry member Hank Snow met current Opry member Ernest Tubb for the first time. The meeting led to the efforts by Ernest to get Hank on the Opry, which finally took place in January 1950.

February 26, 1949: Rose Maddox and her brothers made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry. Rose and the group would later become Opry members, however their stay at the Opry was very short. There are several different versions as to why they left.

February 18, 1950: One of the Opry's early competitors, the WSB Barn Dance, based in Atlanta, Georgia, took place for the final time. The show, which started on November 16, 1940, was a very popular regional show.

February 23, 1952: Del Wood made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry. She came to the Opry after "Down Yonder" her famous instrumental single, sold over a million copies the previous year. When Del accepted the invitation to perform on the Opry, she turned down a two week engagement to play with Bob Crosby and his orchestra. Del became an Opry member the following year and would remain an Opry member until her death in October 1989.

February 7, 1953: Marty Robbins made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry. He performed two numbers, "Ain't You Ashamed" and "Good Night Cincinnati, Good Mornin' Tennessee." Marty's debut was a success and he would shortly after become an Opry member.

February 26, 1955: The Louvin Brothers, Charlie and Ira, became members of the Grand Ole Opry. Some consider them the greatest brother duo in the history of country music. Ira passed away on June 20, 1965 from injuries in an automobile accident that also took the life of his wife and another couple. Charlie would remain a member of the Opry, and have a successful solo career, until his death in January 2011. (As a note, some publications list February 10 as the date the Louvin Brothers joined the Opry).

February 19, 1957: Webb Pierce resigned as a member of the Opry. Webb's time at the Opry was fairly short as he quickly realized the amount of money he was losing by having to be in Nashville every Saturday night.

February 23, 1957: Porter Wagoner became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. It is safe to say that Porter was one of the Opry's most popular and colorful members and in his later years, was considered the face of the Opry. Porter had made his first guest appearance in 1956 and would later say, "The first night I appeared on the Opry, I came off the stage and went back to the dressing room area, and I met Roy Acuff in the hallway there. And he came up to me and he said, 'Porter, I was awful glad that you're becoming a part of the Grand Ole Opry. We need more of your kind of people here,'" The night of his first appearance, he was introduced by Carl Smith, who would later became close friends with Porter. Porter remained an Opry member until his death in October 2007, shortly after celebrating 50 years as an Opry member.

February 27, 1959: Billy Grammer joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. Famous for "Gotta Travel On" Billy was also a fine guitar player and maker. Billy was a member for 52 years, passing away in August 2011.

February 6, 1960: George Hamilton IV became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. George, who passed away in September 2014, was an Opry member for 54 years.

February 23, 1963: Patsy Cline made her final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Less than two weeks later, she would die in a plane crash that also took the lives of Opry members Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins, along with Randy Hughes.

February 11, 1967: The Four Guys made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. As the story has been told many times, they were brought back for several encores. Even the the group never had a hit record, they were such a success with their stage presence that they were asked to become Opry members, were they remained until fired in April 2000.

February 22, 1969: Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs made their final appearance together on the Opry. The duo had joined the Opry in 1955, however creative differences caused the two to go their separate ways. While they broke up several months later, each remained as individual members of the Opry.

February 6, 1971: The Grand Ole Opry began performing two Saturday night Opry shows on a regular basis. Prior to that date, the Saturday show ran 7:30 to midnight, although on special occasions the Opry would break it up into two shows, depending on artist and audience demand.

February 11, 1972: Grand Ole Gospel Time, hosted by the Reverend Jimmie Snow, made its debut after the Friday Night Opry. The show would continue for the next 23 years and feature many of the Opry's members, along with other guests including Johnny and June Carter Cash and Dennis Weaver. While the hour long show took place after the Friday Night Opry, it was not aired on WSM until Sunday morning.

February 23, 1974: Former Grand Ole Opry member DeFord Bailey returned to the show for the first time since he was fired by Opry founder George D. Hay in 1941. DeFord appeared at the personal invitation of Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl, who for years had been trying to convince DeFord to return to the Opry. Before passing away, DeFord would make several more appearances, most often on the Opry's annual reunion shows.

February 8, 1975: After an absence of 18 years, Jimmy Dickens rejoined the cast as a member of the Opry. He was introduced that night by Hank Snow, who noted how much Jimmy had been missed at the Opry and how good it was to have him back. As you might expect, Jimmy sang "Family Reunion." Unlike the first time he joined in 1948, this time Jimmy stayed, until passing away in January 2015.

February 6, 1975: Ronnie Milsap became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Ronnie's 41st year as an Opry member.

February 7, 1981: John Conlee became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be John's 36th year as an Opry member. As an Opry member, John has been very popular and well received. After he first appeared on the Opry, he was quoted as saying, "I made sure to stand on the circle from the stage of the old Ryman. That circle has been so important to me because so many big stars had stood on that wooden flooring."

February 21, 1981: Just two weeks after John Conlee joined the cast, Boxcar Willie became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Boxcar became a country music star late in life, thanks to his hobo character and his late night television commercials promoting his train album. Boxcar had first appeared on the Opry in June 1980 after being discovered in England by Wesley Rose, who brought Boxcar to the attention of Roy Acuff. Lecil Travis Martin passed away in April 1999.

February 20, 1988: The Grand Ole Opry honored Roy Acuff for 50 years of Opry membership. TNN devoted an entire hour long segment to Roy that featured Loretta Lynn and Minnie Pearl. On an additional note, on the same night that Roy Acuff celebrated his 50th Opry anniversary, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton reunited at the Opry for the first time in 14 years.

February 24, 1991: Webb Pierce passed away in Nashville. Webb came to Nashville in 1952 from the Louisiana Hayride and quickly made his first Grand Ole Opry appearance on the Prince Albert portion of the show. When he joined the cast in 1953 he was considered the replacement for Hank Williams. In the 1950s, Webb was one of the biggest acts in country music and because of his heavy touring, he only stayed at the Opry for a couple of years. Webb was also a very successful business man and was involved with one of the first publishing companies in Nashville. In 2001, a decade after his death, Webb was finally elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

February 29, 1992: Travis Tritt became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 25th year as an Opry member, Although Travis has not appeared on the Opry since 2007, he is currently scheduled to appear later this month in celebration of his 25th year as an Opry member.

February 18, 1995: WSM and Grand Ole Opry announcer Charlie Douglas announced the Grand Ole Opry for the final time. Charlie retired from WSM after coming to the station in 1984.

February 21, 1998: The Grand Ole Opry honored long-time member Grandpa Jones, who passed away earlier in the week from complications of a stroke suffered after an Opry performance. At the show that night, Bill Carlisle, Vince Gill, Ramona Jones and Grandpa's children led the cast in singing "Fallen Leaves," one of the great songs that Grandpa wrote.

February 17, 2001: Brad Paisley became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Brad's 16th year as an Opry member. On the night that Brad joined the cast, he wore the bright yellow jacket that Buck Owens wore on the cover of the 1966 "Live at Carnegie Hall" album.

February 24, 2001: While performing on the first show that evening, Grand Ole Opry member Wilma Lee Cooper suffered a stroke which would end her performing career. Wilma Lee did return to the Opry several times after the stroke, once to be honored for 50 years as a member of the Opry, and then when the Grand Ole Opry House reopened after the flood in September 2010.

February 16, 2002: Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt and Hank Williams, Jr. performed together on the Opry in tribute to Waylon Jennings, who had recently passed away. Porter Wagoner was the host of the segment and the four performers  spent an hour on stage singing various Waylon songs and telling Waylon stories.

February 18, 2003: Grand Ole Opry member Johnny Paycheck passed away following a long illness. Johnny joined the Opry in November 1997, at the urging of Johnny Russell. However, within a few years, declining health forced Johnny into retirement. At the time of his death. Johnny was in such poor financial shape that George Jones paid for a cemetery plot in which Johnny was buried.

February 4, 2005: Bluegrass group The Grascals made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry. While never becoming Opry members, they group continues to make guest appearances.

February 26, 2005: Opry member Charlie Louvin was honored for 50 years of Opry membership. He appeared on both Opry shows that night in addition to hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree.

February 16, 2008: Former Grand Ole Opry member Bobby Lord passed away in Florida at the age of 74. Bobby was a popular Opry member who joined the cast in the mid 1960s, leaving in the mid-1970s. At the time, he left Nashville and moved to Florida and got involved in real estate.

February 27, 2009: Opry member Billy Grammer was honored for 50 years of Opry membership. On the same night that Billy was recognized, Jimmy Dickens returned to the Opry after an absence of six weeks following brain surgery.

February 26, 2015: The Grand Ole Opry House was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

There you have it for this month.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Grand Ole Opry 1/27 & 1/28

The Grand Ole Opry has released the line-ups for the two shows this weekend, the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry. Both shows have solid line-ups.

Opry members scheduled for both nights include John Conlee, Mike Snider and The Whites. That group will be joined on Friday night by Jeannie Seely, Terri Clark, Ricky Skaggs, Craig Morgan and Jesse McReynolds, while on Saturday night, the three will be joined by Connie Smith, Bobby Osborne and Riders In The Sky.

As to guest artists this weekend, Friday's list has Sarah Darling, Granger Smith, Ned LeDoux and Trent Harmon on it, while on Saturday night, the scheduled artists include Ray Scott, Ashley Campbell, John Schneider, Shenandoah, Lindsay Ell and Charles Esten.

Friday January 27
7:00: John Conlee (host); Sarah Darling; Mike Snider
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Granger Smith; Terri Clark
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Ned LeDoux;
8:45: Craig Morgan (host); Jesse McReynolds; Trent Harmon

Saturday January 28
7:00: John Conlee (host); Ray Scott; Mike Snider
7:30: The Whites (host); Ashley Campbell; John Schneider
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Shenandoah; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Lindsay Ell; Charles Esten

12 artists for each show, with 8 Opry members on Friday and 6 on Saturday.

For Ned LeDoux, this will be his Opry debut. Ned started out as the drummer for his famous father, Chris LeDoux. After his father passed away in 2005, Ned continued to tour with his father's band. Eventually, he began singing, concentrating on some of his dad's songs including "Rodeo Man." In July 2015, Ned came to Nashville with the intention of finishing some songs that is dad had started and in the process he connected with Mac McAnally. Mac became Ned's producer and has worked on the last two studio albums that Ned has released. For the past year, Ned has been touring and opening for Toby Keith, Chris Janson and Randy Houser.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 5 years ago, the weekend of January 27 & 28, 2012:

Friday January 27
7:00: John Conlee (host); Jimmy C Newman; Del McCoury Band
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds; Craig Morgan
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Casey James
8:45: Mike Snider (host); Ray Pillow; Diamond Rio

Saturday January 28
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); John Conlee; Love and Theft
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jim Ed Brown; Connie Smith; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; John Anderson; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Mike Snider; Diamond Rio

Now from 10 years ago, the weekend of January 26 & 27, 2007:

Friday January 26
8:00: Jeannie Seely (host); The Whites; Jimmy Wayne
8:30: John Conlee (host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene; Del McCoury Band
9:00: Charley Pride (host); Danielle Peck; Ralph Stanley
9:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Darryl Worley

Saturday January 27
1st show
6:30: John Conlee (host); The Whites; Ralph Stanley
7:00: Dierks Bentley; Montgomery Gentry; Rodney Atkins; Josh Turner
8:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; Del McCoury Band; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Charley Pride (host); Jack Greene; Dale Watson

2nd show
9:30: John Conlee (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Rodney Atkins
10:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); The Whites; Ralph Stanley
10:30: Charley Pride (host); George Hamilton IV; Dale Watson; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Del McCoury Band; Dierks Bentley

Finally, looking back 50 years to Saturday January 28, 1967:

7:30: Luzianne
Bill Anderson (host); Ride; Ride; Ride
Skeeter Davis: You Add Fuel to the Flame
George Hamilton IV: The Urge for Going
Del Wood: Down at Papa Joe's
Bill Anderson: Still
Jim Ed Brown: Regular on My Mind
Skeeter Davis: Going Down the Road Feeling Bad
Bill Anderson: Get While the Getting's Good

8:00: Martha White
Billy Walker (host): A Million & One
Charlie Louvin: Off & On
Justin Tubb: But Wait; There's More
Osborne Brothers: The Kind of Woman I Got
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Bill Walker: Bear With Me A Little Longer
Stringbean: Train 45
Margie Bowes: Enough to Make A Woman Lose Her Mind
Billy Walker: Cattle Call

8:30: Stephens
Bobby Lord (host): Room in the Corner of the House
Bill Carlisle: Same Ol' Tale That the Crow Told Me
Bob Luman: Hardly Anymore
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Bobby Lord: Fall Away
Jean Shepard: Heart, We Did All That We Could
Bobby Bare: The Streets of Baltimore
Grandpa Jones: Stop That Ticklin' Me

9:00: Pet Milk
Roy Acuff (host): Just A Friend
Bill Monroe: The Pretty Fair Maiden
Billy Grammer: The Real Thing
Lonzo & Oscar: Funny Way of Living In This Crazy Mixed Up World
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird
Dottie West: What's Come Over My Baby
Fruit Jar Drinkers: (?)
Roy Acuff: Glory's Coming; It Won't Be Long

9:30: Kellogg's
Hank Snow (host): Hula Love
Willis Brothers: Bob
Marion Worth: There Goes My Everything
Curly Fox: Casey Railroad Blues
Hank Snow: I've Cried A Mile
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Hank Snow: The Count Down

10:00: Schick
Bill Anderson (host): I Get the Fever
George Hamilton IV: Truck Driving Man
Margie Bowes: There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight
Stringbean: Nine Pound Hammer
Bill Anderson: I Love You Drops

10:15: Pure
Jim Ed Brown (host): A Taste of Heaven
Bill Carlisle: Dr. R.D.
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Jim Ed Brown: You Can Have Her

10:30: Buckley's
Jean Shepard (host): Many Happy Hangovers to You
Charlie Louvin: He Can Be Found
Del Wood: Cajun Stripper
Grandpa Jones: Old Rattler Left Us Years Ago
Jean Shepard: It's A Man

10:45: Kent
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting in the Air
Billy Walker: Cross the Brazos at Waco
Osborne Brothers: The Kind of Woman I Got
Crook Brothers: Eighth of January

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): I've Been Everywhere
Bill Monroe: Panhandle Country
Justin Tubb: As Long As There's A Sunday
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Hank Snow: There's A Fool Such as I
Dottie West: Here Comes My Baby
Bobby Bare: Detroit City
Sam McGee: Blackberry Blossom
Hank Snow: I'm Moving On

11:30: Lava
Billy Grammer (host): Gotta Travel On
Lonzo & Oscar: We're Gathering the Hang of it Now
Bob Luman: Memphis
Marion Worth: Touch My Heart
Billy Grammer: The Real Thing
Connie Smith: Walk Thru This World
Curly Fox: Lost John
Bob Luman: Hardly Anymore
Billy Grammer: Under the Double Eagle

There you have it for this week. I hope everyone has a great weekend, and enjoy the Opry!!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Grand Ole Opry 1/20 & 1/21

On the same weekend that our country will inaugurate a new President, the Grand Ole Opry will welcome a new member as on Saturday night, Crystal Gayle officially joins the cast of the Grand Ole Opry.

Brenda Gail Webb was born on January 9, 1951 in Paintsville, Kentucky. She is the younger sister of Grand Ole Opry member Loretta Lynn and a distant cousin of Opry member Patty Loveless. While Loretta grew up in Kentucky, Brenda spent most of her childhood in Wabash, Indiana. As she was growing up, she would sing for visitors at her home, and inspired by Loretta, she learned to play the guitar and sing backup in her brothers' folk band. While still in high school, she began to tour with Loretta for a few weeks each summer. After graduating from Wabash High School in 1970, she signed with Decca Records, Loretta's label. Since Brenda Lee was already a singer on Decca, she was asked to change her name and it was Loretta that suggested Crystal, after seeing a sign for the Krystal hamburger restaurant. Brenda Gayle Webb thus became Crystal Gayle.

Crystal's debut single, "I've Cried (The Blue Right Out of My Eyes)", was released in 1970 and peaked at number 23 on the Billboard charts. Written by Loretta, many say it sounded like a Loretta Lynn record, which pleased Decca. Loretta wrote more songs for Crystal, however nothing charted until 1974's "Restless" which reached number 39. She then left Decca and signed with United Artists, where she teamed with producer Allen Reynolds, who offered her the creative freedom to develop her own style. In 1974, her first album "Crystal Gayle" was released and the first single, "Wrong Road Again" reached number 6 on the charts. The hits kept coming and in 1976 she had her first No. 1 record, "I'll Get Over You." During the course of her career, she released 24 studio albums and 68 singles, along with projects with other artists. In addition to "I'll Get Over You." her other No. 1 singles have included "You Never Miss a Real Good Thing," "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," Ready for the Times to Get Better," "Talking in Your Sleep," Why Have You Left the One You Left Me For," "It's Like We Never Said Goodbye," "If You Ever Change Your Mind," "Too Many Lovers," "Til I Gain Control Again," "Our Love Is on the Faultline," "Baby, What About You," "The Sound of Goodbye," Turning Away," "Cry," and her final No. 1 in 1986, "Straight to the Heart." Her last chart appearance was in 1990 with "Never Ending Song of Love." She also scored No. 1 duets with Gary Morris and Eddie Rabbit.

During the course of her career, Crystal has won numerous awards including Academy of Country Music Top New Female Vocalist in 1975 and Top Female Vocalist in 1976, 1977, 1979, and the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award in 2016. In 1977 and 1978 she was the Country Music Association's Female Vocalist of the Year, and won the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 1978. In February 2008, she was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and in 2009 she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is just a matter of time before Crystal is elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, an honor that would be well deserved.

Crystal is currently working on a new album, her first in 13 years. She has been quoted as saying that album will contain covers of country music classics. On November 15, Carrie Underwood surprised Crystal during an appearance at the Opry, with an invitation to become the Opry's newest member.

Obviously, Crystal Gayle becoming the Opry's newest member will be the highlight this weekend, as it should be. But let's not forget, there are two pretty good Opry shows scheduled also. Joining Crystal and Loretta Lynn on Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will be Opry members Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider, John Conlee, Connie Smith, Riders In The Sky and Jesse McReynolds.

Conlee, Seely, Snider and The Riders are also scheduled for the Friday Night Opry where they will be joined by fellow Opry members Bobby Osborne, Josh Turner, Joe Diffie, Lorrie Morgan and Steve Wariner. That all adds up to 9 Opry members on Friday and 8 on Saturday.

As to guest artists this weekend, the list is fairly short. Friday night will have Maggie Rose, Jim Lauderdale and Jackie Lee, while Saturday's show has Ryan Kinder, Smithfield and Emily West scheduled.

Friday January 20
7:00: John Conlee (host); Maggie Rose; Mike Snider
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Josh Turner
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Jim Lauderdale; Joe Diffie
8:45: Lorrie Morgan (host); Jackie Lee; Steve Wariner

Saturday January 21
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Ryan Kinder; Mike Snider
7:30: John Conlee (host); Smithfield; Connie Smith
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Jesse McReynolds; Emily West; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Loretta Lynn; Crystal Gayle

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 5 years ago, the weekend of January 20 & 21, 2012. During the Saturday night show, Emmylou Harris was honored upon her 20th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. (her actual induction date was January 25, 1992).

Friday January 20
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy C Newman; Connie Smith; Diamond Rio
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Kip Moore
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Terri Clark; Darryl Worley
8:45: John Conlee (host); Eric Paslay; Ricky Skaggs

Saturday January 21
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds; Mandy Barnett
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; Craig Morgan
8:15: Emmylou Harris (host); Shawn Colvin; Rodney Crowell; Vince Gill; Buddy Miller; Kimmie Rhodes; The Whites; Opry Square Dancers

Now from 10 years ago, the weekend of January 19 & 20, 2007:

Friday January 19
8:00: Mike Snider (host); The Whites; Blaine Larsen
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Keith Anderson
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Connie Smith; Chris Young
9:30: Vince Gill (host); George Hamilton IV; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Terri Clark

Saturday January 20
1st show
6:30: Mike Snider (host); Connie Smith; Ashley Monroe
7:00: Trace Adkins (host); Blake Shelton; Keith Anderson; Tracy Lawrence
8:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Charlie Louvin; Suzy Bogguss; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: John Conlee (host); The Whites; Blaine Larsen

2nd show
9:30: Mike Snider (host); Connie Smith; Keith Anderson
10:00: George Hamilton IV (host); Suzy Bogguss; Trace Adkins
10:30: John Conlee (host); The Whites; Blake Shelton; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Ray Pillow (host); Blaine Larsen; Tracy Lawrence

It is worth noting that, while 22 years apart, Crystal Gayle will share the same Grand Ole Opry induction date as another Opry member, Brother Oswald.

When Bashful Brother Oswald stepped center stage wearing his bib overalls and trademark orange hat and became a member of the Grand Ole Opry on January 21, 1995, he had already been playing the Opry almost every weekend for more than 50 years. Oswald, who had been one of the most respected dobro players in country music, had also been a member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys for half a century. Now he was an official member in his own right. "I'm the happiest man alive. This is a wonderful honor for me," he said. Then, adding his howling trademark laugh, he joked, "You know, I've been auditioning for this part for 56 years!"

Born Beecher Ray Kirby, near Sevierville, Tennessee, in the Great Smoky Mountains, the son of an Appalachian musician, "Os"-as he's known to friends-learned guitar and banjo as a youngster. Later he played and passed the hat to supplement his sawmill income. As a young man he took a job in a car factory in Flint, Michigan, and began playing guitar and banjo in small clubs. Hawaiian music was popular at the time and Os bought his first steel guitar to fit in with the craze that was flooding the radio station where he played live music. He performed at the Chicago World's Fair and the following year moved to Knoxville and began playing dobro with local bands. He met Roy Acuff in Knoxville and joined the Smoky Mountain Boys at the Opry on January 8, 1939.

In addition to playing dobro, guitar and banjo, he also sang tenor with Roy, played jug in the jug band and did comedy. When Rachel Veach joined the group, Kirby became her "great big Bashful Brother Oswald," and they performed together, singing, playing, and doing comedy routines.

Roy once said, "I don't think anyone has the style, the touch and the control of a dobro instrument like Oswald. I don't think anyone has ever come close to him in his type of playing. He also plays the banjo in the old clawhammer or mountain style. Os is the best." Roy often showcased him as a featured artist and after Roy's death both Os and band member Charlie Collins performed regularly on the Opry.

Os played on most of Roy Acuff's recordings and sang on the classics "Precious Jewel" and "Wreck on the Highway." He also recorded his own albums including "Celebrating 25 years with Roy Acuff and Bashful Brother Oswald." In 1990 he was awarded the Heritage Award at Uncle Dave Macon Days in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and in 1994 he published his biography "That's The Truth If I've Ever Told It."

The night he joined the Opry all of the Opry members on stage sang "Wabash Cannonball" and Oswald played along just as he had done for 56 years. "I don't ever want to retire," he says. "I don't know what I'd retire on. Looks sure won't get it," he laughs. And how would Roy Acuff have felt about Oswald joining the Opry? "I guess he would appreciate it a whole lot," says Oswald. "I'm sure he would."

Oswald and Charlie Collins were popular entertainers at Opryland and after Roy Acuff passed away, they continued playing the Opry just about every weekend. At the time that he joined, Oswald was 83 years old, which made him the oldest person to have joined the Opry in the modern era of the show. And while not becoming a member himself, Charlie was with Oswald for each appearance. It has been said that several Opry members, particularly Porter Wagoner and Marty Stuart were instrumental in going to Opry management and asking that Oswald become a member, and when the rest of the Opry members were polled and asked, not one member disagreed.

Here is the running order of the Grand Ole Opry from Saturday January 21, 1995, the night that Brother Oswald became an official member of the Grand Ole Opry, and a night that I was at the Opry and witnessed this great honor.

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Grandpa Jones (host): Are You From Dixie
Mike Snider: Foggy Mountain Chimes
Grandpa Jones: My Little Old Home Down in New Orleans

6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame
Bill Monroe (host): A Feast Here Tonight
George Riddle & Bill Carlisle, Jr: White Lightening
Bill Monroe: A Voice From on High

7:00: Shoney's
Jimmy Dickens (host): I'm Little But I'm Loud
The Whites: He Took Your Place
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Jeanne Pruett: Back to Back
Jim Ed Brown: Will the Circle Be Unbroken/I Saw the Light/I'll Fly Away/Gone at Last
Jimmy Dickens: Take Me As I Am (Or Let Me Go)

7:30: Standard Candy
Marty Stuart (host): Don't Be Cruel
Porter Wagoner: Wabash Cannonball/The Precious Jewel/Fireball Mail/Night Train to Memphis/The Great Speckled Bird
Connie Smith: Sing, Sing, Sing
Brother Oswald: Hawaiian March/Mountain Dew/I'll Be All Smiles Tonight
Jimmy Dickens & Opry Cast: Wabash Cannonball

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
Jimmy C Newman: Allons A' Lafayette
Boxcar Willie: Fireball Mail/Train of Love/Hand Me Down My Walking Cane/Wreck of the Old 97/I'm Moving On/Wabash Cannonball/Night Train to Memphis
Charlie Louvin: Nearer My God to Thee
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Bill Cheatham
Bill Anderson: The Touch of the Master's Hand

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): Silver Rails
4 Guys: Big River
Bill Walker: Adam's Side
Doug Stone: Love Grows Best in Little Houses
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Hank Snow: The Prisoner's Song

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General Stores
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'all Come
Wilma Lee Cooper: The Legend of the Dogwood Tree
Osborne Brothers: I'll Be All Right Tomorrow
Stu Phillips: That's A Chance I'll Have to Take
The Whites: Hangin' Around
Porter Wagoner: Dim Lights; Thick Smoke

10:00: Goody's
Grandpa Jones (host): Banjo Sam
Roy Drusky: Always/One Day At A Time
Grandpa Jones: Dear Old Sunny South By the Sea

10:15: Tennessee Pride/Sunbeam
Bill Monroe (host): Stay Away From Me;You're Causing Me Trouble
Ray Pillow: too Many Memories
Bill Monroe: Tombstone Junction/Cryin' Holy Unto the Lord

10:30: Gruhn Guitar
Marty Stuart (host): Tempted
Boxcar Willie: Train Melody
Marty Stuart: Blue Train/Hillbilly Rock

10:45: Fairfield Communities
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take An Old Cold Tater
Del Reeves: The Race is On
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Ragtime Annie
Jimmy Dickens: She Always Got What She Wanted

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Geisha Girl
Connie Smith: You & Your Sweet Love
Charlie Walker: Who Will Buy the Wine
Doug Stone: A Different Light/A Jukebox with a Country Song
Hank Snow: A Message From the Trade Winds

11:30: Cates Pickles
Bill Anderson (host): Wild Weekend
4 Guys: I Know; I Know
Jack Greene: Highway to the Sky
Johnny Russell: Baptism of Jesse Taylor
Bill Anderson: Deck of Cards

There you have it for this week. I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend and once again, congratulations to Crystal Gayle on becoming the Opry's newest member!!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Grand Ole Opry 2016 Year in Review

2016 is officially in the books and it is time for my annual year in review. As always, it was an interesting and eventful year.

In  2016, there were a total of 205 Opry shows. That represents an increase of 15 shows from the previous year. The breakdown is as follows, with the changes from 2015:

Friday Night Opry: 56 (+2)
Saturday Grand Ole Opry: 70 (+9)
Tuesday Night Opry: 49 (-1
Wednesday Night Opry: 11 (+3)
Thursday Opry Country Classics: 16 (+2)
Saturday Matinee: 1 (0)
Tuesday Matinee: 2 (+1)

There were 63 Grand Ole Opry members at the beginning of the year. Of those 63, 2 passed away during the year: Ralph Stanley; and Jean Shepard. That left the Opry with 61 members to conclude the year. While no new members were added in 2016, invitations were given to Crystal Gayle and Dailey & Vincent, who will become official members in 2017. 

Of the Opry's 61 members who completed the year, 48 made at least one appearance. Among those were Keith Urban, who did not make any appearance the year before. While 48 Opry members appeared on the Opry, 260 guest artists performed. To break it down further, when you add up the total number of appearances by Opry members and guests, it comes to 2003, with Opry members making up 1035 of those, or just over half. 

There were several highlights this past year, 2 of which included the membership invitations to Crystal Gayle and Dailey & Vincent. Among the career highlights, Alan Jackson and Vince Gill celebrated their 25th anniversary as members of the Opry; Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers their 40th; Ray Pillow his 50th; Bill Anderson his 55th; and Stonewall Jackson his 60th. Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood returned to the Opry stage in an unannounced appearance and there were increased appearances by a number of other Opry members.

Ryman Hospitalities, the owners of the Grand Ole Opry, spent the year announcing plans to invest heavily in the Nashville downtown area. They seem committed to further building their brand, along with that of the Opry. In relation to the brand building, the company announced plans to build an Opry theme venue in New York City. And with "Nashville" returning on CMT, expect more cross branding between the show and the Opry.

So how did the members do this past year as to appearances? Here is the list, starting with the Top 10 and the number of appearances increased or decreased from 2015:

1) Mike Snider-121 (+33)
2) Connie Smith-97 (+9)
3) Jeannie Seely-96 (+12)
4) John Conlee-81 (+26)
5) Bill Anderson-77 (-5)
6) The Whites-72 (+9)
7) Riders In The Sky-67 (-3)
8) Bobby Osborne-55 (+1)
9) Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers-53 (-23)
10) Jesse McReynolds-44 (+3)

There were no changes in the list from a year ago, but it is interesting to see the huge increase in appearances by Mike Snider and John Conlee. And while Larry, Steve and Rudy are down from a year ago, the number of appearances is still significant.

While it is not officially written down, Pete Fisher has been quoted as saying that he would like commitments from new Opry members to appear 10 times per year. So outside of the Top 10, who made the cut in 2016? Let's take a look:

Ricky Skaggs-31 (-4)
Vince Gill-23 (-9)
Del McCoury-22 (-7)
Lorrie Morgan-14 (-2)
Montgomery Gentry-11 (+8)
Carrie Underwood-11 (+1)
Pam Tillis-11 (+3)
Diamond Rio-10 (-3)

Adding it all up, 18 of the Opry's 61 members made the cut. That is down 4 from last year. (It should be noted that those members who were added to the cast prior to Pete Fisher becoming general manager in 1999 have not been held to those standards set).

So what about the rest?

Charlie Daniels; Craig Morgan; Old Crow Medicine Show; Marty Stuart-9
Little Big Town; Ray Pillow; Rascal Flatts-8
Trace Adkins; Darius Rucker; Josh Turner; Steve Wariner-7
Oak Ridge Boys-6
Roy Clark; Terri Clark; Brad Paisley-5
Joe Diffie-4
Dierks Bentley; Alison Krauss; Loretta Lynn-3
Patty Loveless; Martina McBride; Ronnie Milsap; Charley Pride; Keith Urban-2

That accounts for 24 more, bringing the total to 42. As bad as it might sound, I really have no issue with those who at least made 5 or more appearances. While nothing to be proud of, at least they made the effort to come out.

Then there are those who just came out one time: Garth Brooks; Alan Jackson; Hal Ketchum and Trisha Yearwood.

And to finish it off, here are the "actively performing artists" who are Opry members but made zero Opry appearances in 2016:

Clint Black
Emmylou Harris
Reba McEntire
Dolly Parton
Blake Shelton
Travis Tritt

For a couple of those on that list, it has been years since they have appeared on the Opry. In the case of Travis Tritt, he hasn't appeared since Porter Wagoner passed away in 2007. However, Travis is on the current schedule to perform on the Opry at the end of February while Clint Black is scheduled for a show in April.

Finally, there are those who are retired or had health issues and did not appear in 2016: That list includes Tom T. Hall, Jeanne Pruett, Barbara Mandrell and Ricky Van Shelton. You can also add Jan Howard and Stu Phillips, neither of whom appeared in 2016 and have left indications that they do not currently plan on returning. Mel Tillis was ill and medically unable to appear, while Stonewall Jackson did make one appearance for his 60th Opry anniversary. The last person I will name is Randy Travis, who while unable to perform, did come to the Opry twice and was introduced on stage.

Now that I have covered the Opry's members, what about those who made guest appearances? Well, in 2016 the leader was "Nashville" star Charles Esten, who came by the Opry 24 times. If he was an Opry member, that would have been the 12th highest. As to how followed him, the list of those who made at least 10 guest appearances is as follow:

Jimmy Wayne; Carly Pearce-21
Mark Wills; Chris Janson-17
William Michael Morgan; Exile-16
Jackie Lee-15
T. Graham Brown-14
JT Hodges; Flatt Lonesome-13
Mo Pitney-12
Darryl Worley; Michael Ray; Craig Wayne Boyd; Ray Scott; Scotty McCreery; Lindsay Ell;       Mandy Barnett; Restless Heart-11
Lee Greenwood; Jim Lauderdale; Holly Williams; Smithfield; Love and Theft-10

When you add it all up, 18 Opry members made at least 10 appearances, compared to 25 non-members. It would seem that there are a few non-members who support the Opry more than a majority of Opry members. And when you look at some of the names on the list, such as Jimmy Wayne, Mark Wills, Exile, Chris Janson, Darryl Worley, Holly Williams, and Mandy Barnett, this is not a one year deal, as these artists have been appearing on the Opry for a number of years. Finally, in case anyone is wondering, the two new members-to-be of the Opry, Crystal Gayle and Dailey & Vincent appeared 6 and 9 times respectively.

In all, 2016 was pretty similar to the past couple of years at the Opry. The year saw the passing of several veteran Opry members and a continued shift to younger guest artists. The pattern of reduced appearances for several of the veteran acts continued. And while I do not have specific numbers, the reports I have seen show that it was another very good year for Ryman Hospitalities and for attendance at the Opry, as the majority of the shows were sold out.

Only time will tell what 2017 will bring. Obviously the year will get off to a strong start with Crystal Gayle becoming an Opry member in January, followed by Dailey & Vincent in March. Jeannie Seely and Stu Phillips will each be celebrating their 50th anniversary as Opry members later in the year, while Loretta Lynn is set for number 55.

The biggest change will be in who is going to be running the Opry with the recent resignation of Pete Fisher. It will be interesting to see how the process plays out. However, no matter who is in charge, I believe that the Opry will continue on its current path as the show continues to move toward the century mark.

Regardless, I continue to be a fan of the Opry and have great expectations that 2017 will be another good year for the "show that made country music famous."

As I conclude, my thanks again to all who read and comment on the blog and to those who have taken the time to email questions and other personal thoughts to me. I do appreciate each and every one of you. Finally, a special mention to Christina Abt, who was kind enough to have included me in her series "64 and More." It was a joy and I have heard from many who have watched it, along with the other subjects that were interviewed. My thanks again.

(*As a disclaimer, the recorded number of appearances is based on the tracking that I do of the shows. If there is an error, such as a missed appearance, my apologies).

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Grand Ole Opry 1/13 & 1/14

So who thought 2017 was going to be uneventful? If you were thinking that way regarding the Grand Ole Opry, you were wrong as right out of the gate Pete Fisher announced his resignation to become the CEO of the Academy of Country Music. While many have different opinions regarding his decision to leave, I do wish him well and much success in his new position. As to the Opry, time will tell as Colin Reed and Steve Buchanan work through the process of hiring his replacement. It will be interesting to see if they stay within the company, or if they follow the process when Pete Fisher was hired and look outside. There has been no indication as to how long the process will last but I have to believe that they knew of Pete's intention to leave a while ago and the search process is well underway.

While the search for a new general manager for the Grand Ole Opry continues, there are two Opry shows this weekend. Opry members scheduled for both shows this weekend (the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry) include The Whites, Mike Snider, Jeannie Seely and John Conlee. And those are your hosts for the segments on both shows. They will be joined by Jesse McReynolds on Friday night and Bobby Osborne on Saturday.

As to guest artists this weekend, those scheduled on Friday night include Luke Combs, Sylvia, Mark Willis, Darryl Worley, The Isaacs and Easton Corbin. Mark Wills returns on Saturday night, to be joined by Michael Ray, Amanda Shires, the O'Connor Band with Mark O'Connor, Tucker Beathard and the great Lee Greenwood.

The interesting name on that list is someone who has not been on the Opry in quite a while and that is Sylvia.

Sylvia Jane Hutton had a number of successful hits in the 1980s. She enjoyed her biggest hit in 1982 as "Nobody" went to No. 1 on the country charts and crossed over to No. 15 on the pop charts. The song earned a gold record and she was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Female Country Vocal Performance. Her other hits included "Drifter," which went to No. 1 in 1981, "Fallin' in Love," "Tumbleweed," and "Snapshot." In addition to her Grammy nomination, Sylvia was also named Female Vocalist of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in 1982. By the late 1980s, her chart success was over. During her career, she has released 8 albums and has had 20 singles on the country charts, 2 of which went to No. 1. Her last single, "Cumberland Rose" was released in 2011 and failed to make the charts.

In the late 1980s, she made the decision to stop recording and touring and began to focus on songwriting. She also started her own record label, Red Pony Records. Over the past several decades, she has released a few albums, with her latest being "It's All in the Family," released in 2015. She has also served as a life coach, helping others in the music industry.

Friday January 13
7:00: The Whites (host); Luke Combs; Sylvia
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Mark Wills
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Jesse McReynolds; Darryl Worley
8:45: John Conlee (host); The Isaacs; Easton Corbin

Saturday January 14
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Michael Ray; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Amanda Shires; Mark Wills
8:15: The Whites (host); O'Connor Band w/Mark O'Connor; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: John Conlee (host); Tucker Beathard; Lee Greenwood

That comes out to 11 acts for each show, with 5 Opry members each night.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 5 years ago, the weekend of January 13 & 14, 2012:

Friday January 13
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Connie Smith; Del McCoury Band
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jesse McReynolds; Restless Heart
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jean Shepard; Brent Eldredge
8:45: Vince Gill (host); The Whites; Ricky Skaggs

Saturday January 14
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy C Newman; George Hamilton IV; The Black Lillies
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Katie Armiger; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jan Howard; The Whites; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Rodney Atkins

Now from 10 years ago, the weekend of January 12 & 13, 2007:

Friday January 12
8:00: Mike Snider (host); Jeannie Seely; Jeff Bates
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; Steep Canyon Rangers
9:00: George Hamilton IV (host); Buddy Jewell; Del McCoury Band
9:30: John Conlee (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Restless Heart

Saturday January 13
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jamie O'Neal
7:00: Mike Snider (host); George Hamilton IV; Mel Tillis
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jack Greene; Del McCoury Band
8:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jan Howard; Cherryholmes; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Connie Smith; Marty Stuart

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jamie O'Neal
10:00: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy C Newman; Mel Tillis
10:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Connie Smith; Cherryholmes; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Del McCoury Band; Marty Stuart

For this week's special look back, it was on Saturday January 13, 1973 that Ernest Tubb was honored and celebrated 30 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Texas born Ernest Tubb was one of the most celebrated stars of Country Music. He was honored as one of the "All Time Greats" by the Country Music Association and the many performers who have been helped by Tubb applauded the tribute. Ernest was truly a Texas Troubadour. Born in the town of Crisp, in Ellis County, Texas, Ernest wanted to be a Western movie star. But when he heard his first recording of a Jimmie Rodgers tune, he knew he wanted to sing. His decision to follow Country Music was soon followed by an opportunity to use his deep baritone on radio when he was nineteen and auditioned for KONO Radio in San Antonio. He was able to call radio his full-time profession in 1941, when he moved to a program on KGKO Radio in Fort Worth. He joined the Opry in 1943.

Tubb's trip from the Texas Plains to the Hills of Tennessee followed the success of a song which he wrote entitled "I'm Walking the Floor Over You." The song, which soon became the theme-song for Ernest Tubb and his Texas Troubadours, has sold millions of records. He has also written over one hundred songs.

Always ready to lend a helping hand to the new-comer, Ernest has helped many country singers to a big career in the field. His famous "Midnight Jamboree" radio show, which is broadcast over WSM from the Ernest Tubb Record Shop in Nashville, has been the proving grounds for countless young hopefuls.

Ernest made his home in Nashville where he was held in the highest regard among his friends and associates. His hobbies included home movies and golf. He traveled about 90% of the time, with his versatile band known as "The Texas Troubadours," in a big comfortable bus. His fans number in the millions all over the world, and many of them have followed his long career closely.

As mentioned, Ernest Dale Tubb was born in Crisp, Texas in 1914. He was a trend setter as his 1941 hit, "Walking the Floor Over You" is considered the start of the honky-tonk era of country music. His other hits have included "Blue Christmas," a song most associated with Elvis Presley, but first recorded by Ernest in 1948. Over the course of his career, he recorded 37 studio albums, and released 92 singles, 6 of which reached No. 1 on the charts (and remember many of his early hits were released before there were charts). His first No. 1 was "Soldier's Last Letter" in 1944, followed by "It's Been So Long Darling," "Rainbow at Midnight," "Slippin' Around," and not to forget, "Blue Christmas," and "Goodnight Irene," which was a duet with Red Foley. What is interesting is that two of his most famous songs were released late in his career. "Thanks A Lot" came out in 1963 and reached No. 3 on the charts, while "Waltz Across Texas" barely made the Top 40 in 1965. In addition to those No. 1 hits, he had dozens of Top 10 singles, and recorded hits with a number of duet partners including Red Foley and Loretta Lynn.

Ernest joined the Grand Ole Opry in January 1943 and was active on the Opry until health issues forced Ernest into retirement in 1982, before passing away in 1984. Ernest was very proud of his Opry membership and even though he was on the road over 300 dates per year, he always made sure to get in his Opry dates. In fact, according to numerous people, at the beginning of each year Ernest would let the Opry's management know what 26 Saturday nights he would be in Nashville for the Opry.

As mentioned, on January 13, 1973 Ernest was recognized for being an Opry member 30 years, Here is the running order of the Grand Ole Opry from that night.

7:00: Shoney's
Bill Anderson (host): I Get the Fever
Charlie Louvin: Bottom of the Fifth
Jim & Jesse: Please Be My Love
Stoney Cooper: Don't Let Your Sweet Love Die
Bill Anderson: Always Remember
Charlie Louvin & Diane McCall: Did You Ever
Jim & Jesse: Just One Of A Kind
Carolee Cooper: Soul Song
Bill Anderson: Don't She Look Good

7:30: Standard Candy
Charlie Walker (host): Soft Lips & Liquor
Bobby Bare: Miller's Cave
Stonewall Jackson: Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
Stu Phillips: There Must Be Another Way to Say Goodbye
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Bobby Bare: Come Sundown
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Grandpa Jones: Eight More Miles to Louisville
Billy Grammer: Gotta Travel On
Crook Brothers: Eighth of January
Roy Acuff: I Wonder Where You Are Tonight
Ray Pillow: When A Man Loves A Woman
Grandpa & Ramona Jones: Raining on the Mountain
Billy Grammer: Amazing Grace

8:30: Stephen's
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Skeeter Davis: Hillbilly Song
Jimmy C Newman: Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues
George Morgan: Making Heartaches
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Lonzo & Oscar: Ole Slewfoot

9:00: Rudy's
Ernest Tubb (host): Baby, It's So Hard to Be Good
Jack Greene: Satisfaction
Jeannie Seely: A Farm in Pennsyltucky
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Ernest Tubb: Waltz Across Texas
Jack Greene & Jeannie Seely: At Least We Know An Ending When It Comes
Ernest Tubb: Walking the Floor Over You

9:30: Kellogg's
Hank Snow (host): There's A Fool Such As I
Willis Brothers: Lady Godiva
Del Reeves: Before Goodbye
4 Guys: Turn Your Radio On
Marion Worth: Okie From Muskogee
Glenn Barber: Yes, Ma'am, I Found Her In A Honky Tonk
Hank Snow: It Kinda Reminds Me of Me

10:00: Fender
Bill Anderson (host): Po' Folks
Bobby Bare: I Hate Goodbyes
Charlie Walker: Soft Lips & Hard Liquor
Stu Phillips: Sensuous Woman
Bill Anderson: The Lord Knows I'm Drinking

10:15: Union 76
Charlie Louvin (host): w/Diane McCall: A Man Likes Things Like That
Stonewall Jackson: I'm Not Strong Enough to Build Another Dream
Billy Grammer: Beautiful Isle of Somewhere
Jim & Jesse: Freight Train
Stoney Cooper & Carolee: Mansion In the Sky

10:30: Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): Little Pal
Grandpa Jones: Kitty Klyde
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya
Ray Pillow: Excuse Me

10:45: Beech-Nut
Ernest Tubb (host): Let's Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Jeannie Seely: Pass Me By
George Morgan: She's Got to Be A Saint
Crook Brothers: Texas Quick Step

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): I've Been Everywhere
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Willis Brothers: Cool Water
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Blackberry Blossom
Lonzo & Oscar: Take Me Home Country Roads
Sam McGee: Farewell Blues/Alabama Jubilee/Just Because
Hank Snow: Mary Ann Regrets

11:30: Elm Hill
Del Reeves (host): Six Days on the Road/Truck Driving Man
Justin Tubb & Norma Gallant: Heaven 7-7203
Glenn Barber: Unexpected Goodbye
Marion Worth: Put Your Hand in the Hand
4 Guys: Down By the Lazy River
Del Reeves: Truck Driver's Paradise

A name that some may not recognize from that night is Glenn Barber. Martin Glenn Barber was born on February 2, 1935 in Hollis, Oklahoma. He was known as a country and rockabilly singer and recorded for Hickory Records in the 1970s. He released 3 albums and had 21 singles on the country charts from 1964 to 1980. "Unexpected Goodbye" was his highest charted record, reaching No. 23. Glenn passed away in Gallatin, Tennessee in 2008.

There you have it for this week. I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!!!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Huge Breaking News-Pete Fisher Leaving the Opry!!

» Fisher To Lead ACM: Grand Ole Opry VP/GM Pete Fisher has been named CEO by the Academy of Country Music. Fisher will lead the Los Angeles-based organization beginning Jan. 30, relocating there from Nashville. He fills the post vacated by Bob Romeo in May (Breaking News 5/16), with EVP/Managing Dir. Tiffany Moon serving in an interim role since. Moon remains with the organization.
Fisher spent 17 years at the Opry, overseeing a wide-ranging transformation of the historic institution. Prior experience includes management and a joint-venture publishing-label post with Warner/Chappell Music and  Warner/Reprise Records. Congratulate him here.
"My 17 years at the world's longest-running live radio show ... has been the experience of a lifetime," Fisher tells Country Aircheck. "I'm incredibly proud of all that our team has accomplished and the Opry is well poised for great accomplishments in the future. I'm excited about this new chapter in my career. My passions align perfectly with all that the Academy of Country Music represents, whether it's serving our industry, celebrating the accomplishments of our country music family, or lending its heart to worthwhile causes and I especially look forward to amplifying the Academy's already strong relationship with Country radio."
"We were blown away by the quality of candidates who came forward," ACM board Chair Ken Tucker tells Country Aircheck. "It took longer than we wanted it to, but we were dedicated to a thorough process and found the right person to move the Academy forward. The Grand Ole Opry when Pete Fisher took over is not the Opry we know today, and he would be the first to point out the team involved in making that happen. And that's just another reason we are excited to have him at the helm of the Academy's already very accomplished team. In addition, his passion for charity work – whether it's his missions to Haiti, serving on the board of MusiCares or his work with the Opry Trust Fund – will serve the Academy's own charitable efforts through ACM Lifting Lives."



Friday, January 6, 2017

Breaking News-Travis Tritt Scheduled to Appear on the Opry

This is truly breaking news!! Hot off the press!!! Travis Tritt is scheduled to appear on the Grand Ole Opry on Tuesday February 28!! While that may not seem mind boggling it should be noted that this member of the Grand Ole Opry has not appeared on the Opry since 2007.

In this case, it will mark Travis's 25th anniversary as a member of the Opry, as he joined on February 29, 1992.

In all seriousness, it is nice to see Travis coming back to the Opry. I never heard any story as to why he no longer appeared but for what it is worth, he has not appeared on the Opry since the death of Porter Wagoner. Coincidence or something else?

I am sure all of us will welcome Travis back with open arms.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Grand Ole Opry 1/6 & 1/7

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the two shows this weekend and both nights have pretty good line-ups as 2017 gets underway at the Opry.

Looking at Opry members scheduled for this weekend, the Friday Night Opry will feature Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider, Diamond Rio, Bobby Osborne, Bill Anderson, The Whites, Vince Gill and Connie Smith. Bill and Mike will also be appearing on Saturday night, where they will be joined by John Conlee, Larry, Steve and Rudy Gatlin, Riders In The Sky and scheduled after an absence of about a month, Jesse McReynolds.

Non-members scheduled for Friday night include frequent Opry guests Carly Pearce, Mandy Barnett and Chris Janson. In the case of Chris, this will be another in the long line of guest appearances that he continues to make at the Opry. As to High Valley, this Canadian duo has appeared on the Opry before. These brothers, Brad and Curtis Rempel have been around for a number of years, and while they have been successful in Canada, their United States career has yet to fully take off.

There are a few more guests appearing on Saturday's Grand Ole Opry and that list includes Smithfield, The Loving Mary Band, Brandy Clark, Kristian Bush and Radney Foster. All very good.

The interesting name of that group, and making their Opry debut, is The Loving Mary Band. The Loving Mary Band is based out of Nashville, Tennessee and the members include Rebecca Lynn Howard, Suzie McNeil, Marti Frederiksen, Elisha Hoffman, Andrew Mactaggart and Sarah Tomek. If the name Rebecca Lynn Howard sounds familiar, that is because it is. She spent several years as a singer/songwriter, winning several Grammy Awards and nominated for several ACM Awards. Her biggest hit, "Forgive" reached No. 12 on the country charts in 2002, For a number of years she was a frequent guest on the Opry and I thought she did a fine job. While Rebecca is the best known member of the group, the others have all had their own success as songwriters, performers or musicians.

If traditional country is what you are looking for, The Loving Mary Band is not for you. They describe themselves as Country/Rock, and list their influences as Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, The Who and Tom Petty, among others. On the country side, they do list Loretta Lynn. It should be an interesting appearance.

Friday January 6
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Carly Pearce; Mike Snider
7:30: Diamond Rio (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Mandy Barnett
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; High Valley
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Connie Smith; Chris Janson

Saturday January 7
7:00: John Conlee (host); Smithfield; Mike Snider
7:30: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (host); Jesse McReynolds; The Loving Mary Band
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Brandy Clark; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Kristian Bush; Radney Foster

For those keeping score at home, that comes out to 12 acts on Friday night, 8 of whom are Opry members, and 11 acts on Saturday with 6 Opry members.

The Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree continues with live shows taping at 10:00 at the Texas Troubadour Theater and the host this week will be Eddy Raven.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 5 years ago, the weekend of January 6 & 7, 2012:

Friday January 6
7:00: John Conlee (host); Connie Smith; Danny Gokey
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Doyle Dykes
8:15: Mike Snider (host); Jim Ed Brown; Ralph Stanley
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Jesse McReynolds; Diamond Rio

Saturday January 7
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jeannie Seely; Andy Gibson
7:30: Mike Snider (host); George Hamilton IV; Connie Smith; Bo Bice
8:15: John Conlee (host); Jean Shepard; Edens Edge; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Doyle Dykes

Now from 10 years ago, the weekend of January 5 & 6, 2007:

Friday January 5
8:00: Mike Snider (host); Jean Shepard; Blaine Larsen
8:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Connie Smith; Jim Lauderdale
9:00: Jeannie Seely (host); George Hamilton IV; Mountain Heart
9:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Gene Watson

Saturday January 6
1st show
6:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Connie Smith; Mountain Heart
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene; Blaine Larsen
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Charlie Daniels Band
8:00: Pam Tillis (host); Jan Howard; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; Trace Adkins

2nd show
9:30: Jean Shepard (host); Connie Smith; Mountain Heart
10:00: Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene; Jimmy C Newman; Charlie Daniels Band
10:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Stu Phillips; Trace Adkins; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Pam Tillis (host); Jim Ed Brown; Blaine Larsen

Finally, going back to Saturday January 7, 1995, Hank Snow celebrated his 45th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

You generally picture a country and western performer as a product of the South or Southwest and generally this is true. The exception to this rule is Hank Snow. Snow, a consistently red hot Grand Ole Opry star, is from North of the Border, Novia Scotia, where he was born, reared and worked at various jobs, until deciding to become an entertainer.

A one-time sailor, ex-lumberjack and former stevedore and cowboy, Snow traveled a path strewn with mental and physical setbacks, and overcame parental objection to become a world-known talented artist. Hank was punching cattle on the Canadian plains by day and entertaining fellow cowpokes by night when he landed his first professional job with Radio Station CHNS in Halifax.

Bitten by the entertainment germ, Snow soon organized his "Rainbow Ranch Boys" and branched out as "The Singing Ranger." Progress came gradually and Snow was signed for a feature spot on the established "Canadian Farm Hour." Simultaneously he was contracted to record on RCA-Victor's Canadian label. Hank's platters, best sellers in the provinces and Australia, were not released in the USA until 1949, to coincide with his first American tour. Snow's debut in the USA boomed his popularity for personal appearances and records. By 1950, Snow had worked his way upward to a starring role on the Grand Ole Opry, as association which has proven mutually beneficial. In 1957 he celebrated his 20th anniversary as a recording star with RCA-Victor.

Success has come to Hank Snow, yet he remembers cold, wet nights as a cabin boy on a North Atlantic freighter. He recalls lonesome nights in the snow as a cattlehand. Yet withal he basically remains the same eagerly ambitious youngster who unloaded a shipload of corn to earn enough money to buy his first guitar. Yes, as the lyrics of his biggest hit go, Hank Snow is still "Moving On." Hank's other best-sellers include, "I Went to Your Wedding," "The Gold Rush Is Over," "I Don't Hurt Anymore," "Rumba Boogie," "Now and Then There's a Fool Such As I," "Music Making Mama from Memphis" and many others.

Hank and his wife Minnie and their son, Jimmy Rodgers Snow, live in Madison, where the star's hobby is raising thoroughbred horses, the price of his stable being "Shawnee," and Indian pony.
(From Vol. 1, No. 1 of the WSM Grand Ole Opry History-Picture Book published in 1957).

Clarence Eugene "Hank" Snow was born on May 9, 1914 and passed away on December 20, 1999, just two weeks short of his 50th anniversary as an Opry member. In the course of his career, he recorded 46 studio albums and 89 singles on the Billboard charts beginning in 1950 and up until 1980. Of those singles, 7 reached #1. Those included "I'm Moving On," "The Golden Rocket," "The Rumba Boggie," "I Don't Hurt Anymore," "Let Me Go, Lover!." "I've Been Everywhere," and "Hello Love." 24 more of his singles charted in the Top 10.

What makes 1995 so special is that it was Hank's last full year performing on the Opry. By the end of the year, respiratory problems set in and his final Opry appearances took place in September 1996. As he began a period of declining health, Hank retired to his Rainbow Ranch.

Here is the running order of the Grand Ole Opry from Saturday January 7, 1995, the night of Hank Snow's 45th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry:

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Bill Monroe (host): Life's Highway
Wilma Lee Cooper: Loving You
Bill Monroe: Wheel Hoss/Cryin' Holy Unto the Lord

6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame
Grandpa Jones (host): Ol' Rattler
Charlie Louvin: Let Her Go; God Bless Her
Grandpa Jones: Gone Home

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Dooley
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Jan Howard: Under Your Spell Again
Jimmy Dickens: Me & My Big Loud Mouth/Another Bridge to Burn
Porter Wagoner: Green, Green Grass of Home
Porter Wagoner & Colene Walters: Burning the Midnight Oil

7:30: Standard Candy
Ricky Skaggs (host): Highway 40 Blues
John Conlee: Let the Good Times Roll
Crossman Quartet: I'm Gonna Take A Trip
The Isaacs: It's Just Like Him/Look Over the Beautiful Fields
Ricky Skaggs: You're Running Wild

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fired
Jack Greene: Every Since My Baby Went Away
Jack Green Band Members: Happy Birthday Jack
Jack Greene: Statue of A Fool
The Whites: There's A Higher Power
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Snow Flake Reel
Bill Anderson: Still

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): Conscience, I'm Guilty
Jim Ed Brown: Will the Circle Be Unbroken/I Saw the Light/I'll Fly Away/Gone at Last
Jeannie Seely: Happy Anniversary to Hank/Don't Touch Me
Mike Snider: Black Jack/The Fur Coat
Hank Snow: Brand on My Heart

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Freight Train Boogie
Jim & Jesse: Headin' West
Oswald: I'll Be All Smiles Tonight
Stu Phillips: Crystal Chandeliers
Ricky Skaggs: Uncle Pen
Porter Wagoner & Colene Walters: The Last Thing on My Mind
Colene Walters: Alone With You
Porter Wagoner: Big Wind

10:00: Goody's
Bill Monroe (host): Blue Moon of Kentucky
Roy Drusky: Family Bible
Bill Monroe: Foggy Mountain Breakdown/Sweet Blue Eyed Darling/The Gold Rush

10:15: Tennessee Pride/Sunbeam
Grandpa Jones (host): Banjo Sam
The Isaacs: Peace Like A River
George McCormick: Satisfied

10:30: Gruhn Guitar
Jimmy Dickens (host): Sleepin' At the Foot of the Bed
Mike Snider: Soldier's Joy/Angeline the Baker/Old Molly Hare/Battle Cry of Freedom/Get Your Hand of My Knee & Load the Cannon
Jimmy Dickens: Out Behind the Barn

10:45: Fairfield Communities
Bill Anderson (host): I Get the Fever
Jack Greene; Forever, My Darling
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Golden Slippers
Bill Anderson: A World of Make Believe

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): The Prisoner's Song
Charlie Walker: Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
Stonewall Jackson: Muddy Water
Jeannie Seely: Go Down Swinging/When He Leaves You
Hank Snow: I Almost Lost My Mind

11:30: Cates Pickles
Billy Walker (host): Come a Little Bit Closer
John Conlee: Lady Lay Down/I'm Only In It For the Love
Johnny Russell: Ain't 'Cha Even Gonna Cry
Billy Walker: Adam's Side

There you have it for this week. I hope 2017 is off to a great start for everyone and as I always say, "Enjoy the Opry this Weekend!!"

Monday, January 2, 2017

January Opry Highlights

Happy New Year to Grand Ole Opry fans everywhere!!! I hope everyone had a safe holiday and are looking forward to a great 2017. Starting off the new year right, here are the important and historical events that have taken place during the history of the Opry, or regarding members of the Opry, during the month of January:

January 23, 1937: The Lakeland Sisters, Mary and Ann, made their Grand Ole Opry debut. They would only remain with the Opry for about 18 months, making their final appearance on June 4, 1938.

January 14, 1939: The Dixieliners made their final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Consisting of early WSM Barn Dance starts Arthur Smith, along with Sam & Kirk McGee, they made their debut in 1932.

January 16, 1943: Ernest Tubb made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry. Ernest was so well received that he was offered membership and officially would join the Opry the following month. Over time, Ernest would become one of the legendary members of the Opry.

January 7, 1950: The legendary Hank Snow, the Singing Ranger, made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry and was also made an Opry member that night. Yes, they did things a little differently in those days. Originally from Canada, Hank came to the Opry via Dallas, Texas, thanks to the help and recommendation of Ernest Tubb. That night, Ernest introduced Hank by saying, "From up Canada way, here's the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, the Singing Ranger, Hank Snow." Hank sang "Brand On My Heart," which had been a big hit for him up in Canada, and a regional hit in the Dallas area. Hank felt that his Opry debut did not go over very well and that he received little audience response. In fact, he told his wife Min that he was not going back. However, she convinced Hank that he owed it to Ernest to return. He went back, and when things did not improve in the coming months, the Opry was considering letting him go. However, "I'm Moving On" was released and the rest is history. Hank remained an Opry member for the next 49 years, until his death in December 1999.

January 7, 1950: On the same night that Hank Snow joined the Opry, Tennessee Ernie Ford made his Grand Ole Opry debut. Unlike Hank, Tennessee Ernie was already an established star and appeared on the Prince Albert portion of the show. While he never became a member, Ernie had an open invitation to appear on the Opry anytime he was in Nashville and he would often take the Opry up on their offer. In later years, he would appear on the Martha White segment, as he was friends with the ownership of the company.

January 1, 1953: Hank Williams was found dead in the backseat of his car in West Virginia. He was being driving to a New Year's Day appearance in Canton, Ohio. Also booked on the show that night were Jimmy Dickens and June Webb, among others. Jimmy ended up not making the trip due to the weather, while the other artists scheduled to appear went ahead and did the show as a tribute to Hank.

January 16, 1953: Opry member Bill Monroe was seriously injured in a head-on car accident on Highway 31 in White House, Tennessee. Bill suffered 19 broken bones in the accident.

January 19, 1953: Marty Robbins made his Grand Ole Opry debut. Marty would join the cast shortly afterwards.

January 22, 1953: The Ozark Jubilee premiered on the ABC television network. The show was hosted by former Opry member Red Foley, who left Nashville and moved to Springfield, Missouri to host the show.

January 29, 1954: Theron Hale passed away. Theron was one of the early members of the Grand Ole Opry, becoming a regular in 1926. He stayed as an Opry regular into the 1930s, after which he would make occasional appearances with Sam McGee. While he was at the Opry, he would be introduced as "Theron Hale and Daughters," which were Elizabeth and Mamie Ruth.

January 22, 1955: Porter Wagoner made his first appearance as a guest on the Opry. He would return and in February 1957, Porter would become an Opry member.

January 12, 1957: Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper became members of the Grand Ole Opry. The Coopers, along with daughter Carol Lee, came to the Opry from the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree, where they were very popular. Stoney would remain with the Opry until his death in 1977. Wilma Lee would continue with the Opry as a solo act, and later celebrated 50 years of Opry membership.

January 1, 1960: Although there is some debate as to the exact date, it would appear this is when Billy Walker became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Billy would remain an Opry member until his death in a car accident in 2006. Billy was a very loyal member of the Opry and later in his career, he would often speak up over the reduction of his Opry appearances.

January 9, 1960: Patsy Cline became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. While her time at the Opry was very short, Patsy was very influential to a number of female artists, including Loretta Lynn and Dottie West. In a pretty famous story as to how she became an Opry member, after one of her Opry guest performances, she approached Opry manager Ott Devine and asked if she might one day become a member. Ott responded by saying, "Patsy, if that's all you want, you are on the Opry."

January 9, 1965: Norma Jean became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Much as Dolly Parton would do a few years later, Norma Jean joined the cast as she was performing as part of Porter Wagoner's show. She stayed with the Opry until 1967, when she left Porter and Nashville.

January 7, 1967: Charley Pride became the first black solo singer to perform on the Opry. He was introduced that night by Ernest Tubb. Charley sang "The Snakes Crawl At Night," and "I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You." Shortly afterwards, he was asked to become an Opry member, but declined due to his heavy touring schedule. Over the years, he would be asked several more times, until finally in 1993 he accepted the invitation to join. He was the 2nd black artist to become an Opry member, following DeFord Bailey.

January 4, 1969: Dolly Parton became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Dolly's 48th year as an Opry member. Back in the early days when she was with Porter Wagoner, Dolly was a frequent visitor at the Opry. However, as her career expanded, she became like many others as someone who hardly ever appeared on the show. She even commented once that if she was in charge of the Opry, she would fire herself. It was Carl and Pearl Butler, former Opry members, who took a liking to Dolly and helped to bring her to Nashville when she was just 12 years old. While it was a long time ago, Dolly remembered her first night guesting on the Opry: "They used to have this Friday Night Frolics and I went up there one night with the intention of being on it. I kept telling everyone I'll sing just one song. Most of the Opry artists had two spots on the show and I walked up to Jimmy C Newman, who was going to sing his second song next and I told him I wanted to be on. I didn't know why he did it, but Jimmy gave me his spot and I sang a George Jones song." While Dolly didn't know why Jimmy C did it that night, I think she came to realize that was the type of person Jimmy C Newman was.

January 11, 1969: George Jones rejoined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. Over the course of his career, George would join and leave the Opry several different times.

January 1, 1971: Tom T. Hall became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will make it 46 years for Tom T at the Opry. After joining the Opry in 1971, he left in March 1975, and then rejoined in 1980. Tom T Hall is now retired and no longer makes personal appearances.

January 13, 1973: Ernest Tubb celebrated his 30th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

January 20, 1973: For the first and only time, Jerry Lee Lewis performed on the Opry. He had always wanted to perform on the show, however the Opry management was afraid to invite him, fearing what he would do onstage. For this appearance, management asked Jerry Lee not to do any rock and roll. He agreed then broke the promise. Appearing on the 11:30 segment hosted by Charlie Walker, he was on stage for almost 40 minutes. In a nice gesture, he invited Del Wood to appear with him onstage, saying later that on a previous backstage visit, Del was the only Opry member that was nice to him.

January 27, 1973: Marty Robbins celebrated his 20th anniversary as a member of the Opry.

January 2, 1974: Grand Ole Opry member Tex Ritter passed away after suffering a heart attack. Tex joined the Opry in 1965 and enjoyed being in Nashville and as a part of the Opry. Tex was also involved in the early days of the Country Music Association and he was just the 5th person to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

January 28, 1976: Skeeter Willis, part of the Willis Brothers, passed away at the age of 58. The Willis Brothers first came to the Opry in 1946 and were well known for their western style of music.

January 22, 1977: Grand Ole Opry member Stoney Cooper appeared on the Opry for the final time. Along with is wife Wilma Lee, Stoney had joined the Opry in 1957. Stoney suffered from heart problems and would pass away in March.

January 27, 1979: Sissy Spacek, who played the part of Loretta Lynn in the movie "Coal Miner's Daughter" joined Loretta for an appearance on the Opry.

January 20, 1984: Future Grand Ole Opry member Mike Snider made his Opry debut. He was a member of the cast of Hee Haw and was well known for his banjo playing and comedy.

January 11, 1986: Mel McDaniel became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Mel would remain an Opry member until his death in 2011.

January 14, 1986: During the Opry's televised 60th anniversary special, Reba McEntire was introduced as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. While this is the date the show was televised, the taping actually took place the previous November. This will be Reba's 31st year as an Opry member.

January 14, 1989: Hubert Gregory of the Fruit Jar Drinkers passed away. Hubert's career at the Opry, as with the Fruit Jar Drinkers, dates back to the early days of the Opry. Like many others of that era, Hubert performed with many different groups, including with Sam & Kirk McGee.

January 20, 1990: Hank Snow celebrated his 40th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. The televised segment on TNN included a reunion of the Glaser Brothers, who were very friendly with Hank. The reunion did not last as the Glaser Brothers never performed together again.

January 10, 1991: Clint Black became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. For Clint, this will be his 26th year as an Opry member.

January 25, 1992: Introduced by Roy Acuff, Emmylou Harris became the Opry's newest member. This will be Emmylou's 25th anniversary as a member of the Opry. It will be interesting to see if three is any recognition for Emmylou.

January 22, 1994: Hal Ketchum became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Hal's 23rd year as an Opry member. Once a pretty regular performer on the show, Hal is now based in Texas and very rarely gets back to Nashville and the Opry.

January 21, 1995: Brother Oswald, longtime member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys, became an official member of the Grand Ole Opry. At the age of 83, I believe he was the oldest person to join the cast. Oswald came to the Opry in the 1930s with Roy and helped to define the Acuff sound. Thanks to the efforts of Porter Wagoner and Marty Stuart, among others, he became a member. I was there the night of his induction and it was quite a surprise as I don't seem to remember it being announced much ahead of time. Oswald passed away in 2002.

January 3, 1998: Longtime Grand Ole Opry member Grandpa Jones made his final appearance on the Opry. After hosting his segment on the 2nd show, Grandpa suffered the first of what would be series of strokes. He was taken directly to the hospital from the Opry House. His condition would continue to decline and he passed away the following month.

January 24, 1998: Grand Ole Opry member Justin Tubb passed away from a sudden illness. He was the son of Opry legend Ernest Tubb and had joined the Opry cast in 1955. At the time of joining, he was the Opry's youngest member. Not only was Justin an excellent singer, but he was also a fine songwriter.

January 9, 1999: Grand Ole Opry member Boxcar Willie made his final appearance on the show. In declining health, Boxcar had first appeared on the Opry in 1981.

January 15, 1999: The Grand Ole Opry returned to the Ryman Auditorium for the first time since moving to the new Grand Ole Opry House in 1974. There were three shows that weekend and all were sold out. During the 1st show on Saturday night, Ricky Skaggs invited Trisha Yearwood to become the Opry's newest member. The weekend shows, which I attended, was such a success that the Opry has returned to the Ryman each winter.

January 15, 2000: Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Patty Loveless handled the official induction. He had been asked just the prior evening if he would like to join. After he said yes, the Opry wasted no time and inducted Ralph the following night. Ralph Stanley was an Opry member until his death last year.

January 4, 2003: Hank Williams Jr and Hank Williams III performed together on the Opry in a show that marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Hank Williams. Also appearing in the tribute that night were Jimmy Dickens, Vince Gill and The Whites

January 6, 2006: The Friday Night Opry was reduced by 30 minutes making it a 2 hour show.

January 11, 2007: Grand Ole Opry member Stonewall Jackson filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Gaylord Entertainment and the management of the Grand Ole Opry. Stonewall made several claims, and specifically named Pete Fisher. As the lawsuit played out, Stonewall refused to perform on the Opry, even though he had been asked. Eventually the lawsuit was settled out of court, with Stonewall privately saying that Gaylord made a settlement. Stonewall did see his Opry appearances increase over the short term, however in recent years, Stonewall has pretty much disappeared from the Opry stage.

January 19, 2008: Charlie Daniels became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 9th year as an Opry member. He said at the time of his induction that becoming an Opry member was always a dream of his. Marty Stuart and Connie Smith formally inducted Charlie into the Opry. In 2015, Charlie became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

January 26, 2011: After a long illness, longtime Grand Ole Opry member Charlie Louvin passed away. Along with his brother Ira, Charlie joined the Opry in 1955. After Ira's death, Charlie continued as a solo artist.

January 7, 2012: Charlie Collins performed for the final time on the Grand Ole Opry. While never an Opry member, Charlie spent considerable time at the Opry, first coming to the show as a member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys, and then after Roy's death, performing with Brother Oswald and with the Opry Square Dancers.

January 21, 2012: Emmylou Harris celebrated 20 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Vince Gill, Rodney Crowell and Buddy Miller helped Emmylou celebrate that night.

January 2, 2015: Longtime Grand Ole Opry legend Jimmy Dickens passed away in Nashville. Jimmy had been hospitalized after becoming suddenly ill on Christmas Day. Jimmy first joined the Opry in 1948 and at the time of his death, was the Opry's last link to the pre-Hank Williams of the Opry. Much loved, Jimmy was noted for his comedy songs, but let's not forget that he was also a great ballad singer.