Thursday, May 3, 2018

Grand Ole Opry 5/4 & 5/5

It will be a big weekend at the Grand Ole Opry as Charley Pride will be in town for both nights and he will be celebrating 25 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

With 36 No.1 hits and more than 25 million albums sold, Charley Pride is a true country music legend. The journey, however, was not without its share of challenges. Born to poor Mississippi sharecroppers, Charley was one of 11 children. At 14, he bought a guitar and taught himself to play. Unofficially starting his music career while playing baseball in the Negro American League with the Memphis Red Sox. Charley sang on the team bus between ballparks. Following a tryout with the New York Mets, Charley returned home, but not before making a trip to Nashville. Manager Jack Johnson heard Charley and promised that a recording contract would follow.

A year later, Charley returned to Nashville and was introduced to producer Cowboy Jack Clement, who asked him to cut a couple of new songs, including one that became his debut hit, "The Snakes Crawl at Night." From 1966 to 1984, the overwhelming majority of his more than 50 singles reached the Top 10, with more than half hitting No.1, including "Kiss an Angel Good Morning," (a pop-country crossover million-seller), "Mountain of Love" and "Is Anybody Going to San Antone?" In 1971, the Country Music Association named him Entertainer of the Year.

"I'm a very fortunate entertainer because a lot of artists don't have but maybe on signature song," Charley says, "I'm fortunate enough to have about four or five. If I leave one or two out of my show, I'm going to hear something about it before the night's over."

In 1993, 26 years after he first played the show as a guest, Charley joined the Grand Ole Opry. Remembering his initial dream of baseball stardom, Charley said, "It's as if I had made it in baseball and they came up to me and took me to Cooperstown and said, 'This is where your plaque is going to be, beside Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron.'"

Charley Pride made his first guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry on January 7, 1967. At the time, he was the first black solo singer to appear on the show (early Opry member DeFord Bailey was in instrumentalist). After that successful first appearance, he was invited back several times and soon was asked to become a member of the Opry's cast. However, citing a heavy touring schedule, Charley declined, as he would on several other occasions. Finally, in 1993 the time felt right for Charley and he joined the Opry.

Joining Charley for both shows this weekend will be Grand Ole Opry members Mike Snider and John Conlee. Joining that duo on Friday night will be members The Whites, Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press, Jeannie Seely and Dailey & Vincent. Opry members scheduled for Saturday night besides Charley, Mike and John include Bill Anderson, Crystal Gayle, Riders In The Sky and Connie Smith. That comes out to seven members on each show.

Listed as guest artists on Friday night are Deana Carter, Eric Paslay, Aaron Tippin and Jimmie Allen, while on Saturday night Shelly Fairchild, William Michael Morgan and Shane Owens are listed.

Friday May 4
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Deana Carter; The Whites
7:30: John Conlee (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Eric Paslay
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Aaron Tippin; Jimmie Allen
8:45: Dailey & Vincent (host); Charley Pride

Saturday May 5
7:00: John Conlee (host); Shelly Fairchild; Mike Snider
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); William Michael Morgan; Crystal Gayle
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Shane Owens; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Connie Smith (host); Charley Pride

While Charley Pride will be celebrating his 25th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, Jimmie Allen will be making his Opry debut on this week's Friday Night Opry.

A native of Southern Delaware, Jimmie Allen has been making his presence known in Nashville, and in the country music community. He has performed at the Bluebird Cafe, toured with Toby Keith, wrote a song that was featured in a Super Bowl commercial, appeared in a Diet Coke ad with Taylor Swift, and in October 2017 released his self-titled EP through the BBR Music Group.

Allen's EP is described as "a cutting-edge mix of country, rock, R&B, and pop," produced by Ash Bowers and Eric Torres. Among the songs, "Underdogs" and "Best Shot" reveal his true story of laying it all on the line, while "Back Home to You," "Back of Your Mind," and "Blue Jean Baby" find the singer-songwriter reflecting on his journey to the spotlight, with all the love he left behind and romantic hopes included.

In January, Rolling Stone magazine listed Jimmie Allen as one of the 10 new country artists you need to know.


As mentioned, Charley Pride is celebrating his 25th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry this weekend and here is a look back at the running order from Saturday May 1, 1993, the night Charley became an official Opry member.

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
The 4 Guys (host): If It's From the Country, It's Coming From the Heart
Wilma Lee Cooper: Sweeter Than the Flowers
The 4 Guys: (?)

6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame
Grandpa Jones (host): Don't 'Cha Cry, Melinda
Jim Ed Brown: Lyin' In Love With You/The 3 Bells
Grandpa Jones: Four Stone Walls and a Ceiling

7:00: Shoney's
Del Reeves (host): Lay A Little Lovin' On Me
Charlie Louvin: Will You Visit Me on Sundays
Jean Shepard: Many Happy Hangovers to You
Osborne Brothers: Rock of Ages
Eddy Raven: Who Do You Know in California/Bayou Boys Sleep All Day; Run All Night
Del Reeves: The Race is On

7:30: Standard Candy
Jimmy C Newman (host): Cajun's Dream
Jan Howard: Crazy Arms
Riders In The Sky: Lonely Yukon Stars
Charley Pride: Kiss an Angel Good Morning/Wings of a Dove/Kaw-Liga
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya

8:00: Martha White
Porter Wagoner (host): 'Ol Slewfoot
Charlie Walker: Who Will Buy the Wine
Brother Oswald: Columbus Stockade Blues
Porter Wagoner: Happy Birthday Dear Tony
Charlie Cushman: Sally Goodin
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Bill Cheatham
Porter Wagoner: Green, Green Grass of Home

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): Breakfast With the Blues
Billy Walker: A Million and One
Roy Drusky: Mississippi
Ray Pillow: Invitation to the Blues
Connie Smith: I've Got My Baby on My Mind
Hank Snow: I'm Not All that Sorry for You

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Dooley
Del Reeves: There She Goes
Stonewall Jackson: Side-Steppin' the Blues
Charley Pride: Every Heart Should Have One/Mountain of Love/Kiss An Angel Good Morning/Kaw-Liga
Porter Wagoner: On A Highway Headed South

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): Banjo Sam
The 4 Guys: My Special Angel
Jean Shepard: Wabash Cannonball
Grandpa Jones: Old Camp Meeting Time

10:15: Sunbeam/Tennessee Pride
Jim Ed Brown (host): Everyday People
Bill Carlisle: Rusty Old Halo
Jim Ed Brown: Will the Circle Be Unbroken/I Saw the Light/Gone at Last

10:30: Picadilly
Billy Walker (host): Charlie's Shoes
Lost & Found: Left-Over Biscuits
Billy Walker: You Gave Me A Mountain

10:45: Opry Book
Osborne Brothers (host): Midnight Flyer
Charlie Louvin: See the Big Man Cry
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Liberty
Osborne Brothers: High on a Hilltop
David Crowe: Sally Goodin

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Ramblin' Rose
Riders In The Sky: Son of the Western Soil
Justin Tubb: You Nearly Lose Your Mind
Eddy Raven: Sometimes A Lady/I've Got Mexico
Hank Snow: Old Shep

11:30: General Jackson
Jimmy C Newman (host): Pistol Packin' Mama
Connie Smith: Then & Only Then
Roy Drusky: All for the Love of a Girl
Mike Snider: Squirrel Hide
Jimmy C Newman: Colinda

While May 1, 1993 is the date that Charley Pride joined the Opry, it was May 1, 1971 that another Opry member, James Clell Summey, better known as Cousin Jody, performed on the Opry for the final time.

James Clell Summey was born on December 11, 1919 near Sevierville, Tennessee. While he was young, his family moved to Knoxville. Both of his parents were musicians and other musicians stayed on a regular basis at their home. As Jody grew up, he learned several different instruments, starting with a guitar before moving on to the dobro, on which he became an accomplished musician. By 1933, he was playing in local clubs with a group known as the Tennessee Crackerjacks, where they were joined by another local fellow, Roy Acuff. Several years later, Roy and the band moved to Nashville where they appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. Performing with Roy on the Opry, Jody became the first musician to play a dobro on the show.

While many people associate Brother Oswald with helping to create the Roy Acuff sound, it was actually Jody who provided the dobro on such classic Acuff recordings as "The Great Speckled Bird" and "Wabash Cannonball." In January 1931, after having a difference of opinion with Roy over material,  Jody left the group and returned to Knoxville. However, he soon moved back to Nashville, this time working for Pee Wee King. He later worked with Lonzo and Oscar, and many of those classic performances can be seen on YouTube. He then performed as a solo member of the Opry, dressing up as a baggy-panted and toothless hayseed. With his comedy and musicianship, he was a popular member of the cast. His comedy dominated his later appearances which caused many fans to forget just how good a dobro player he really was.

Declining health caused Jody to retire from the Opry in 1971 and he passed away at the age of 55 on August 18, 1975.

Here is the running order from Saturday May 1, 1971, Cousin Jody's final night on the Opry:

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Stu Phillips (host): Let the Guitars Play
Peggy Little: I've Got to Have You
Stringbean: Mountain Dew
Stu Phillips: El Tigrae

6:45: Rudy's
Willis Brothers (host): Bob
Justin Tubb: Big Fool of the Year
Willis Brothers: For the Good Times
Cousin Jody: On Top of Old Smokey

7:00: Luzianne
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Tex Ritter: I Dreamed of a Hillbilly Heaven/Boll Weevil
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Nine Pound Hammer
Howdy Forrester: Billy in the Low Ground
Connie Eaton: Take My Hand, Precious Lord
Brother Oswald: Columbus Stockade Blues
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Big Midnight Special
Roy Acuff: Cabin in Gloryland

7:30: Standard Candy
Bill Monroe (host): Molly & Tenbrooks
Stonemans Family:  Looking Out My Back Door
Joe & Rose Lee Maphis: If I'm Gonna Have Your Lovin'
Crook Brothers: Mississippi Sawyer
Bill Monroe: Wicked Path of Sin
Stoneman Family: Orange Blossom Special
Joe & Rose Lee Maphis: If I've Gotta Have Your Lovin'

8:00: Martha White
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Bill Carlisle: Shanghai Rooster
The 4 Guys: My Special Angel
Bobby Lewis: He Gives Us All His Love
Archie Campbell: Hey Waiter
Del Wood: Kentucky Turnpike
The 4 Guys: Ruby, Don't Take Your Guns to Town

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I've Been Everywhere
Marion Worth: How Great Thou Art
Charlie Walker: My Baby Used to Be That Way
Louie Roberts: Sandy/Cattle Call
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Devil's Dream
Marion Worth: Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed
Hank Snow: I've Cried A Mile

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Justin Tubb (host): Be Glad
Willis Brothers: Women's Liberation
Peggy Little: Son of a Preacher Man
Stringbean: Ruby
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Peggy Little: I've Got to Have You
Stringbean: Battle of New Orleans
Justin Tubb: Lonesome 7-7203

10:00: Fender
Stu Phillips (host): Me & Bobby McGee
Connie Eaton: Take My Hand, Precious Lord
Cousin Jody: On Top of Old Smokey
Stu Phillips: For the Good Times

10:15: Union 76
Bill Monroe (host): I Haven't Seen Mary in Years
Tex Ritter: Wayward Wind
Joe & Rose Lee Maphis: Run That By Me One More Time
Bill Monroe: I'll Never Love No One Else But My Darling

10:30: Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting in the Air
Bill Carlisle: I'm Moving
Del Wood: Are You From Dixie
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

10:45: Beech-Nut
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Nobody's Darling But Mine
Crook Brothers: Old Joe Clark
Archie & Phil Campbell: Release Me

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Charlie Walker: My Baby Used to Be That Way
Stoneman Family: White Lightening #2
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldier's Joy
Hank Snow: Bluebird Island
Charlie Walker: Tell Her Lies and Feed Her Candy
Sam McGee: Where the Roses Never Fade
Hank Snow: My Little Old Home Down in New Orleans

11:30: Elm Hill
The 4 Guys (host): Cottonfields/Mariah
Marion Worth: Okie from Muskogee/How Great Thou Art
Louie Roberts: Sandy
Bobby Lewis: From Heaven to Heartache/He Gives Us all His Love
The 4 Guys: Sweet Caroline/One Pair of Hands

Once again, congratulations to Charley Pride upon his 25th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. And as always, I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend. 


  1. It's special to see him celebrating #25, and I will always remember his induction for two things. One is that he apparently asked for Jimmy C. Newman. The other is that Pride read a note from Henry Cannon about how proud Minnie was and how proud Roy Acuff would be, and he broke down as he read it.

    1. And I also remember how he broke down in tears.

  2. So proud of Charley and for the 25 year milestone. I truly don’t think any country artist has ever impacted me on a daily basis as Charley. His songs are so pure, sincere and heartfelt. Not a day goes by that I do not play or listen to one. His Christmas album is as important to our family as is Santa Claus.

  3. Where is Jesse Mcreynolds this weekend?

    1. Not sure, but he is scheduled for the Tuesday Night Opry.

  4. Byron: That was a great write up on Charley Pride. I really enjoyed it. Congrats to Charley. Bob

  5. I think that Charley Pride's body of work on RCA is one of the most consistent and overall solid bodys of work of any Country performer in history. Very very few weak songs among them and any cover songs he did, which were few, were great renderings of those songs.

    Great to see him celebrate 25 years. From ticket prices I have seen, he is still able to draw a crowd at a higher price than most of his peers. My only regret the few times I have seen him perform is that we did not get to meet him.

    Thanks Byron.

    Knightsville, IN

  6. By today's standards Cousin Jody could have remained a member of the Opry and still have been in declining health/retired state. I guess Ernest Tubb was the first member to have been able to keep his Opry membership up, and not have been able to perform due to health issues. I wonder how many artists in those early days had to give up membership because of health? Jody, Lew Childre come to mind. Maybe Robert Lunn. Then came Minnie Pearl, Wilma Lee Cooper, Del Reeves, Oswald, Sonny Osborne, & others. My opinion is to leave them on the roll if you know they would be there if they could. Management in recent years has done this, and I tip my hat to them. In the days of Jody, I think the actual "job" personification of Opry membership kicked in and no honorary status was extended.