Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Grand Ole Opry May 2

As the Grand Ole Opry continues with its current format, at least for the majority of the month of May, I thought it would be a good time to review who has appeared thus far since March 14, when the Opry began the current format of presenting the show with no audience.

March 14: Connie Smith, Sam Williams, Bill Anderson, Mandy Barnett, Jeannie Seely, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper

March 21: Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Brad Paisley

March 28: Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Jenny Gill, Corrina Grant Gill

April 4: Terri Clark, Ashley McBryde, Lauren Alaina

April 11: Trace Adkins, T. Graham Brown, Jason Crabb

April 18: Ricky Skaggs, Dailey & Vincent

April 25: Craig Morgan, Luke Combs

22 different acts have appeared thus far, with Vince being the only repeat. 12 have been members of the Opry, so a nice split. And it is nice to see some of the Opry's bigger names participating. This will will be no different.

So, what show has been your favorite so far? Tough choices as all of been very good, but if I were to list the Top 3, I would go with:

1) Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Jenny Gill, Corrina Grant Gill
2) Ricky Skaggs, Dailey & Vincent
3) Trace Adkins, T. Graham Brown, Jason Crabb

Just my opinion and I am interested in what others think.

As I mentioned, some of the Opry's bigger names have been coming out to support the show and this week will be no different as Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood are scheduled to appear. Somehow I expected at some point that Garth would do one of these shows as he is a great supporter of the Opry and while his actual appearances might be slim, he does a lot to support the show behind the scenes. As with the past shows, this should be another great night and I would think Circle will see their highest viewership since the current format began.

And now, from 25 years ago, Saturday April 28, 1995:

1st show
6:30: The Whites (host); Del Reeves
6:45: Bill Monroe (host); Hank Locklin
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jim Ed Brown; The Four Guys; Jean Shepard; Mike Snider
7:30: Jack Greene (host); Mandy Barnett; Billy Dean
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Brother Oswald; Jeanne Pruett; Billy Walker; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Connie Smith; Jimmy C Newman

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Charlie Walker; Skeeter Davis; Hank Locklin; Jeannie Seely
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); Stu Phillips
10:15: Jimmy Dickens (host); Billy Dean
10:30: Mike Snider (host); Roy Drusky
10:45: Jack Greene (host); Jeanne Pruett; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Ray Pillow; Mandy Barnett; The Four Guys; Connie Smith
11:30: Billy Walker (host); Jean Shepard; Jimmy C Newman

And from 50 years ago, Saturday May 2, 1970:

1st show
6:30: Hank Locklin (host); Johnny Seay; Connie Eaton
6:45: Stu Phillips (host); Hugh X Lewis; Cousin Jody
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Stringbean; Bill Carlisle; Minnie Pearl
7:30: Bill Monroe (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Ray Pillow; Crook Brothers; James William Monroe
8:00: Lester Flatt (host); Willis Brothers; Ernie Ashworth
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jimmy C Newman; Justin Tubb; Fruit Jar Drinkers

2nd show
9:30: Hank Locklin (host); Willis Brothers; Connie Eaton; Johnny Seay
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); Earl Scruggs Revue
10:15: Stu Phillips (host); Stringbean; Hugh X Lewis
10:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Cousin Jody; Waylon Jennings
10:45: Ray Pillow (host); Bill Carlisle; Crook Brothers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Justin Tubb; Louie Roberts; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Sam McGee
11:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Ernie Ashworth; Martha Carson

2nd show that night with Waylon Jennings and former Opry member Martha Carson making appearances.

Johnny Seay appeared on the Opry that night and is a name that might not be familiar to everyone.

Johnny was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. His first major break in 1957 by winning a state talent show (whose runner-up was Bill Anderson). As a result of this he was offered a recording contract as well as the opportunity to appear on Louisiana Hayride and The Grand Ole Opry. In 1959, he scored a hit on the country charts with "Frankie's Man Johnny", and had a second in 1960 with "Nobody's Darling but Mine". Both his early hits were on NRC Records. After these hits he moved westward to become a cowboy.

In 1964 he began recording again and his songs, "My Baby Walks All Over Me" and "My Old Faded Rose", became country chart successes. Signing with Warner Bros. Records in 1966, he released the song "Day For Decision" which featured a background chorus singing "America". The recording was a country success and also peaked at No. 35 on the US pop charts and it was nominated for a Grammy award. Its accompanying album, which was a minor chart success, featured renditions of several popular patriotic tunes. After 1967, he had two more country hits for Columbia Records, "Goin' to Tulsa" and "Three Six Packs, Two Arms and a Juke Box". His 1968 (released in 1970) song "Willie's Drunk and Nellie's Dyin'" were about his real-life neighbors Willie and Nellie York.

Johnny Seay died May 14, 2016, when his single-engine plane clipped a cell telephone tower wire and crashed near West, Texas. He was 75.

One of the forgotten members of the Grand Ole Opry is Cousin Jody. A great musician and comedian who helped define the Roy Acuff sound.

James Clell Summey was born in Possum Hollow, near Sevierville, Tennessee. When he was young  his family moved to Knoxville where he grew up in a musical environment, since both parents (Matty and Jim) were musicians. Other musicians regularly stayed in the home and young Jody soon learned to play several instruments. He began on the guitar but by 1931, was an accomplished dobro player (a relatively new instrument in those days, having only been developed in the late 20s).

By 1933, he was playing local venues with a group known as the Tennessee Crackerjacks, when they were joined by Roy Acuff. He became an important member of Acuff’s band and in February 1938, when Acuff and his band played the Grand Ole Opry, he became the first player to feature the dobro there. He also provided the dobro backing on most of Acuff’s early recordings including ‘The Great Speckled Bird’ and ‘Wabash Cannonball’. After differences of opinion over material, he and two other band members left Acuff in January 1939. Jody would later say that he "owed everything" to Roy for getting him started in the music business.

He returned to Knoxville but was soon back in Nashville, where he worked with Pee Wee King, Lonzo And Oscar and briefly as a comedy duo with Oral Rhodes, as Odie And Jody. He had played the comedian during his days with Acuff and finally became a solo Opry act in his alter ego role of the baggy-panted and toothless grinning hayseed, Cousin Jody. In this guise, he mixed rube comedy with his instrumental talents and for many years remained a very popular Opry regular.

In the mid 1960s, he was involved in a lawsuit against The Informer Publishing Company, located in Chicago. His lawsuit stated the the company used his picture without his permission in connection with a libelous article, causing him embarrassment and damage. In November 1968, he won a judgement of $200,000 against the company.

In his later years, Cousin Jody suffered from various heath issues, forcing his retirement from the Opry, eventually passing away from cancer on August 18, 1975. He was either 55 or 61, depending on the source. His grave stone lists his date of birth as December 11, 1919, while his obituary lists his year of birth as 1913.

When asked how he became known as "Cousin Jody," his response was "Don't I look like your Cousin Jody?"

In honor of Cousin Jody, here is the running order from his final Grand Ole Opry appearance, Saturday May 1, 1971:

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 and 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 and Stoney Cooper: Big Midnight Special
Roy Acuff: Cabin in Gloryland

7:30: Standard Candy
Bill Monroe (host): Molly & Tenbrooks
Stoneman Family: Looking Out My Back Door
Joe and 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 and Rose Lee Maphis: I Gotta Lot of Lovin'

8:00: Martha White
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Bill Carlisle: Shanghai Rooster
The Four Guys: My Special Angel
Bobby Lewis: He Gives Us All His Love
Archie Campbell: Hey, Waiter
Del Wood: Kentucky Turnpike
The Four Guys: Ruby, Don't Take Your Love 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 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 Me 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 and Rose Lee Maphis: Run That By Me One More Time
Bill Monroe: I've 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: Beechnut
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: Nobody's Darling But Mine
Crook Brothers: Old Joe Clark
Archie and 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 & 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 Four Guys (host): Cottonfields/Maria
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 Four Guys: Sweet Caroline/One Pair of Hands

There you have it for this week. As always, thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this Saturday night.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Grand Ole Opry April 25

First, I thank everyone for their continued support and reading. There just hasn't been much news to report or comment on lately. On a personal basis, I hope all of you continue to be safe and well, along with being careful when going out in public.

As I write this on Wednesday morning, the Grand Ole Opry is still advertising and promoting that they plan on resuming shows with live audiences from the Opry House on Friday May 1st, when the state of Tennessee is scheduled to lift some restrictions. Personally, I can't see it. While we are all anxious for the Opry to resume normal shows, I still think it is too early to do that and I would expect some sort of update soon as to how the Opry is going to proceed. I think even in a best case scenario, it is going to be well into summer or fall before fans are back in the Opry House. I hope I am wrong but better safe then sorry.

As far as this Saturday night, Luke Combs and Craig Morgan are the only two scheduled to perform, with Bobby Bones continuing to host on Circle. While we have gotten use to three artists on the show, I think Luke and Craig can easily fill the hour and it should be another great show.

And now, from 25 years ago, Saturday April 22, 1995:

1st show
6:30: Bill Monroe (host); Skeeter Davis
6:45: Bill Anderson (host); Del Reeves
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Charlie Louvin; Ricky Skaggs; Jimmy Sturr & His Orchestra
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Connie Smith; Mark Collie; Jeannie Seely
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Brother Oswald; Jean Shepard; The Whites; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); The Four Guys; Jeanne Pruett; Jack Greene; Johnny Russell

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jim Ed Brown; Jimmy C Newman; Jan Howard; Stu Phillips
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); Roy Drusky
10:15: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mark Collie
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jean Shepard
10:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); The Four Guys; Stonewall Jackson; Ray Pillow; Billy Walker
11:30: Johnny Russell (host); Del Reeves; Charlie Walker; Connie Smith; Johnny Counterfeit

And from 50 years ago, Saturday April 25, 1970:

1st show
6:30: Charlie Louvin (host); Ernie Ashworth; Del Wood
6:45: George Morgan (host); Duke of Paducah
7:00: Bill Monroe (host) and Charlie Louvin; Archie Campbell; Skeeter Davis; Harold Weakley
7:30: Del Reeves (host); Osborne Brothers; Willis Brothers; Stringbean; Crook Brothers
8:00: Lester Flatt (host); Johnny Carver; Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper; Peggy Sue; The Four Guys
8:30: Ernest Tubb (host); Loretta Lynn; Billy Grammer; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Billy Parker

2nd show
9:30: Bobby Lord (host); Willis Brothers; Osborne Brothers; Duke of Paducah
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); James William Monroe; Ernie Ashworth; Del Wood
10:15: George Morgan (host); Archie and Phil Campbell; Peggy Sue
10:30: Lester Flatt (host); Skeeter Davis; The Four Guys
10:45: Ernest Tubb (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Crook Brothers
11:00: Billy Grammer (host); Loretta Lynn; Stringbean; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Sam McGee
11:30: Del Reeves (host); Johnny Carver; Bill Carlisle; Jamey Ryan

Over the past several weeks, the name Billy Parker has been listed on many of the Grand Ole Opry line-ups.

Billy Parker was born July 19, 1939 in Okemah, Oklahoma. Not only was Billy a country singer, but he was also an award winning Disc Jockey, having been named Disc Jockey of the Year by the Country Music Association in 1974 and by the Academy of Country Music in 1975, 1977, 1978 and 1984. He was inducted into the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame in 1992, the Western Swing Hall of Fame in 1993, and received the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters' Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.

Between 1976 and 1989, he charted more than twenty singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. His highest charting single, "(Who's Gonna Sing) The Last Country Song," peaked at No. 41 in 1982. He also reached the Top 10 on the RPM Country Tracks chart in Canada with the song "You Are My Angel" in 1988.

Another name from the second show that night was Jamey Ryan. Jamey, born in 1947, was actually a  cousin of Goldie Hill. She came to Nashville while still a teenager to launch a career in country music. She recorded for Columbia Records with limited success. Of note, in 1965 she married Charlie Dick. The marriage lasted until the early 1970s.

Here is the running order from that night:

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Charlie Louvin (host): You Gave Me A Mountain
Ernie Ashworth: My Love for You
Del Wood: Red Wing
Charlie Louvin: Tiny Wings

6:45: Rudy's
George Morgan (host): Lilacs & Fire
Duke of Paducah: Four Leaf Clover
George Morgan: My Woman, My Woman, My Wife

7:00: Luzianne
Bill Monroe (host) w/Charlie Louvin: Can't You Hear Me Calling
Archie Campbell: Hey Waiter
Skeeter Davis: I'm A Lover; Not A Fighter
Harold Weakley: All I Have to Offer You is Me
Bill Monroe: Walk Softly on My Heart
Archie Campbell: Make Friends
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Bill Monroe: Katy Hill

7:30: Standard Candy
Del Reeves (host): A Lover's Question
Osborne Brothers: Ruby, Are You Mad
Willis Brothers: I Still Do
Stringbean: Me & My Old Crow
Del Reeves: Girl on the Billboard
Crook Brothers: Instrumental
Osborne Brothers: Tennessee Hound Dog
Willis Brothers: Jambalaya
Del Reeves: One Dime at a Time

8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt (host): Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms
Johnny Carver: You Lily White Hands
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: Guide Me Home, My Georgia Moon
Peggy Sue: After the Preacher's Gone
Uncle Josh: Just Joshin'
The Four Guys: Shenandoah
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: I'll Be a Friend to Jesus
Lester Flatt: I've Been Walking

8:30: Stephens
Ernest Tubb (host): It's America
Loretta Lynn: Your Squaw is on the Warpath
Billy Grammer: Gotta Travel On
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin' Hen
Billy Parker: I Get a Happy Feeling
Loretta Lynn: I Know How
Ernest Tubb and Loretta Lynn: Who's Gonna Take the Garbage Out
Billy Grammer: San Antonio Rose
Ernest Tubb: Letter's Have No Arms

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Bobby Lord (host): Rainbow Girl
Willis Brothers: Pretty Diamonds
Osborne Brothers: You Win Again
Duke of Paducah: If You Knew Susie
Bobby Lord: You & Me Against the World
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Bobby Lord: Y'All Come

10:00: Fender
Bill Monroe (host)
James William Monroe: Sweet Mary & The Miles in Between
Ernie Ashworth: Mind Your Own Business
Del Wood: Pony Boy
Bill Monroe: McKinley's March

10:15: Union 76
George Morgan (host): Is Anybody Going to San Antone
Archie and Phil Campbell: Faded Love
Peggy Sue: After the Preacher's Gone
George Morgan: Lilacs & Fire

10:30: Trailblazer
Lester Flatt (host): Foggy Mountain Breakdown
Skeeter Davis: Am I That Easy to Forget
The Four Guys: Daddy Sang Base
Lester Flatt: I Live the Life of Riley

10:45: Beechnut
Ernest Tubb (host): Answer the Phone
Wilma Lee Cooper: Wedding Bells
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Ernest Tubb: Dear Judge

11:00: Coca-Cola
Billy Grammer (host): Lonesome Road Blues
Loretta Lynn: Fist City/I Know How
Stringbean: Me & My Old Crow
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Billy Grammer: Georgiana Moon
Stringbean: Battle of New Orleans
Sam McGee: Amos Johnson Rag

11:30: Lava
Del Reeves (host): Be Glad
Johnny Carver: Proud Mary
Bill Carlisle: Dirty Old Man
Jamey Ryan: Holy Cow
Del Reeves and Jamey Ryan: We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds
Johnny Carver: Hold Me Tight
Sheila and Bill Carlisle, Jr: When I Stop Dreaming
Del Reeves: A Lover's Question

There you have it for this week. As always, thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Opry on Saturday night. Continue to be safe and well.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Grand Ole Opry April 18

I wish I had better news to report and that the Grand Ole Opry was back to normal, but with conditions the way they are, the Opry is continuing with their one hour show on WSM and Circle.

This week bluegrass is the theme and it will be Ricky Skaggs and Dailey & Vincent performing for us this week. Only two acts listed but I am sure with the social distancing that needs to take place, Dailey & Vincent will not be able to stand together, thus the three microphones will be put to use. It will be interesting to see if there are a couple of additional musicians with these three. The last couple of weeks have seen one or two support members helping out. On the other hand, with Ricky's musical skills, he might be able to handle everything himself.

Next week was supposed to be the initial end of the Opry streaming the shows with no audience. Craig Morgan and Luke Combs are listed on the schedule, with the site still listing live audience shows starting in May. I think at this point it is safe to say that probably is not going to happen. I would expect an announcement from the Opry within the next week to clarify the schedule for May and into June.

Until we get back to live shows, I hope everyone enjoys Ricky and Dailey & Vincent on Saturday night.

And now, from 25 years ago, the 3rd Saturday in April 1995:

Saturday April 15
1st show
6:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Bill Carlisle
6:45: Bill Monroe (host); Stonewall Jackson
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Four Guys; Jack Greene; Osborne Brothers; Jean Shepard
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; J.D. Sumner & The Stamps; Charlie Daniels
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Charlie Louvin; Jimmy C Newman; Jeannie Seely; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jeanne Pruett; Mike Snider; Ricky Skaggs

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jeanne Pruett; Del Reeves; Brother Oswald; Charlie Daniels
10:00: Bill Anderson (host); Charlie Walker
10:15: Grandpa Jones (host); The Whites
10:30: Bill Monroe (host); Jean Shepard
10:45: Jimmy Dickens (host); Osborne Brothers; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Jeannie Seely; Stu Phillips; Mike Snider
11:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Steve Wariner; Ray Pillow; Johnny Russell

From 50 years ago, Saturday April 18, 1970:

1st show
6:30: Justin Tubb (host); Jerry Smith; Connie Eaton
6:45: Stu Phillips (host); Lonzo and Oscar; Billy Troy
7:00: Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host); Del Wood; Cal Smith; Johnny Carver; Louie Roberts
7:30: Roy Acuff (host); Bill Carlisle; Margie Bowes; Crook Brothers
8:00: Glaser Brothers (host); Hugh X Lewis; Jack Barlow; Cousin Jody
8:30: Bobby Lord (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Jeanne Pruett; Fruit Jar Drinkers

2nd show
9:30: Justin Tubb (host); Lonzo and Oscar; Johnny Carver; Cal Smith
10:00: Stu Phillips (host); Jerry Smith; Connie Eaton
10:15: Roy Acuff (host); Del Wood; Billy Troy
10:30: Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Hugh X Lewis
10:45: Bill Carlisle (host); Margie Bowes; Crook Brothers
11:00: Glaser Brothers (host); Cousin Jody; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Louie Roberts; Sam McGee
11:30: Bobby Lord (host); Jeanne Pruett; Jack Barlow

Looking back, it was on Saturday April 18, 1998 that Diamond Rio became members of the Grand Ole Opry.

Not many groups have joined the Grand Ole Opry cast during the modern era. That makes it all the more notable that Diamond Rio made its first Opry appearance in October 1991, and in 1998 became the first group since The Whites, who joined in 1984, to receive Opry membership. With their lighter-than-air harmonies and intricately woven instrumentation, this six-man group has been turning songs into standards since its 1991 debut album helped define the “young country” movement. Diamond Rio has been awarded Top Vocal Group honors a total of six times from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. The group has sold more than 10 million records, earning five gold and three platinum albums in the process.

Diamond Rio evolved from the Tennessee River Boys, a band that performed at the former Opryland theme park. Singer Marty Roe, guitarist Jimmy Olander and keyboardist Dan Truman left that group to form their own in 1986. Drummer Brian Prout and mandolin player Gene Johnson joined the new band in 1987. Bassist Dana Williams — a nephew of Opry members Sonny Osborne and Bobby Osborne — came on board two years later.

In 1991, Diamond Rio’s first single, “Meet in the Middle,” went to No. 1 — the first group in country music history to top the charts with its debut. The band followed “Meet in the Middle” with the hits “Mirror, Mirror” and “Mama Don’t Forget to Pray for Me.” In all, Diamond Rio has placed more than 30 singles on Billboard magazine’s country charts, including such chart-toppers as “How Your Love Makes Me Feel,” “One More Day,” “Beautiful Mess,” and “I Believe.” The 2001 hit ballad “One More Day” became a key song of healing after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In 2004, Diamond Rio received the Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award for its work on behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, for which the band members serve as National Ambassadors, as well as the American Lung Association, and others.

Here is the running order from 22 years ago, Saturday April 18, 1998, the night Diamond Rio joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry:

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Jimmy C Newman (host): Diggy Liggy Lo
Bill Carlisle: (?)
Jimmy C Newman: Jole Blon

6:45: Joggin' In A Jug
Jean Shepard (host): Love's Gonna Live Here
Wilma Lee Cooper: I'm Picking Up the Pieces
Jean Shepard: Tennessee Waltz

7:00: Shoney's
Vince Gill (host): The Cold Gray Light of Dawn
Ray Pillow: Someone Had to Teach You
Skeeter Davis: I Can't Stay Mad at You
George Hamilton IV: We Will Meet Again
Jack Greene: My World Ain't Turning Yet
Vince Gill: My Pretty Little Adriana/Whenever You Come Around

7:30: Standard Candy
Jimmy Dickens (host): Me and My Big Loud Mouth
Chonda Pierce: Comedy
Charlie Louvin: When I Stop Dreaming
Diamond Rio: Meet in the Middle/Tennessee
Jimmy Dickens: I'd Rather Sleep in Peace Then Know You're Gone

8:00: Martha White
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'All Come
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Billy Walker: Cross the Brazos at Waco
The Four Guys: Swing Down Chariot
Opry Square Dance Band and The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Ida Red
Porter Wagoner: A Satisfied Mind
Porter Wagoner and Christie Lynn: Dooley

8:30: Fan Fair
Johnny Russell (host): Folsom Prison Blues
Charlie Walker: Smoke, Smoke, Smoke
Jeannie Seely: Making Believe
The Whites: Doing it By the Book
Johnny Russell: Wabash Cannonball

2nd show
9:30: Opry Book
Porter Wagoner (host): Freight Train Boogie
Brother Oswald: Mansion on the Hill
Jack Greene: Satisfaction
Stonewall Jackson: Why I'm Walkin'
Jeanne Pruett: A Poor Man's Woman
Porter Wagoner and Christie Lynn: If Teardrops Were Pennies/Head on Over to the Twist and Shout

10:00: Opry Book
Jimmy C Newman (host): Good Deal, Lucille
Jan Howard: I Wish I Could Love that Much Again
Kenny Sears: Orange Blossom Special
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya

10:15: Banquet
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take an Old Cold Tater
Vince Gill: Two Worlds Apart
Jimmy Dickens: I Love Lucy Brown

10:30: Purnell's
The Four Guys (host): The Grundy County Auction
Jean Shepard: When Two Worlds Collide
The Four Guys: Shenandoah

10:45: Opry Cruise
Billy Walker (host): Don't Stop in My World
Roy Drusky: Waltz of the Angels
Opry Square Dance Band and The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Durang's Hornpipe
Billy Walker: Blue Suede Shoes

11:00: Coca Cola
Johnny Russell (host): Good Hearted Woman
Ray Pillow: Cinderella
Stu Phillips: Only God
Diamond Rio: Dig A Little Deeper/Walking in Jerusalem Just Like John

11:30: Turbo Nutrition
Jeannie Seely (host): Speaking of the Devil
Charlie Walker: Right or Wrong/Pick Me Up on Your Way Down
The Whites: Swing Down Chariot
Jeannie Seely: Don't Touch Me

There you have it for this week. As always, thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Grand Ole Opry this weekend!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Grand Ole Opry April 11

Another Saturday night brings another Grand Ole Opry show on WSM and Circle, along with Dish and the various streaming services.

As with the past several weeks, there is another fine line-up, with no repeats from earlier shows. And with this being Easter weekend, I am sure some special music will be played as the show is being advertised as a special holiday show.

Grand Ole Opry member Trace Adkins will head the show, joined by frequent Opry guests T. Graham Brown and Jason Crabb, along with Bobby Bones.

While pretty much everyone is familiar with Trace and T. Graham, perhaps not everyone is familiar with the career of Jason Crabb.

In his career, Kentucky-born Jason Crabb has won a GRAMMY and 21 Dove Awards – being named the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards Artist and Male Vocalist of the Year along with Song of the Year. He also has had over 20 million views on YouTube. He has hosted shows on TBN, along with appearing on numerous award shows and television specials.

Since his first solo release in 2009, Jason has performed at many of the world’s most prestigious stages such as Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn Tabernacle, Billy Graham’s final crusade in NYC, and of course, the Grand Ole Opry. Not only recognized as a solo artist, Jason has also performed with dozens of other performers.

Whatever the Road, Jason’s 2015 release, was nominated for a GRAMMY® for Best Contemporary Christian Album.

His latest release, Unexpected, releases on April 20, 2018. The project was produced by Jay DeMarcus (Rascal Flatts) and features Gary LeVox (Rascal Flatts) and Kaya Jones.

And now, from 25 years ago, the second weekend in April 1995:

Saturday April 8
1st show
6:30: Bill Monroe (host); Wilma Lee Cooper
6:45: Grandpa Jones (host); Del Reeves
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Four Guys; Charlie Louvin; Mike Snider
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Bill Carlisle; The Whites; Kitty Wells; Johnny Wright
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Stonewall Jackson; Jeanne Pruett; Boxcar Willie; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jimmy C Newman; Brother Oswald; Ricky Skaggs

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jeanne Pruett; Stonewall Jackson; Stu Phillips; Charlie Walker
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); The Whites
10:15: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mike Snider
10:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Roy Drusky
10:45: Billy Walker (host); Ray Pillow; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); The Four Guys; Stonewall Jackson; Boxcar Willie
11:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Johnny Russell; Nashville Bluegrass Band

And from 50 years ago, Saturday April 11, 1970:

1st show
6:30: Billy Grammer (host); Del Wood; Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper
6:45: Ray Pillow (host); Barbara Fairchild; Billy Troy
7:00: Charlie Walker (host); Jean Shepard; Jim and Jesse; Leroy Van Dyke
7:30: Willis Brothers (host); Carl and Pearl Butler; Jay Lee Webb; Crook Brothers
8:00: Roy Acuff (host); Bobby Lewis; The Four Guys; Webb Pierce; Crook Brothers
8:30: Ernest Tubb (host); Marion Worth; Hugh X. Lewis; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Billy Parker

2nd show
9:30: Billy Grammer (host); Willis Brothers; Leroy Van Dyke; Billy Troy
10:00: Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper (host); Del Wood; Barbara Fairchild
10:15: Ray Pillow (host); Jay Lee Webb
10:30: Roy Acuff (host); Jean Shepard; Webb Pierce
10:45: Ernest Tubb (host); Billy Parker; Crook Brothers
11:00: Jim and Jesse (host); Connie Eaton; Bobby Lewis; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Sam McGee
11:30: Charlie Walker (host); Marion Worth; Hugh X Lewis; Louie Roberts

(Lots of cancellations that night as Stringbean, Margie Bowes, Lonzo and Oscar and the Glaser Brothers all failed to appear)

April 11, 1987 was another of the Grand Ole Opry's reunion shows. While not as many former members appeared this particular year, those who did show included Clyde Moody, Zeke Clements, Pee Wee King and Curly Fox.

Here is the running order from that night 33 years ago:

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
Jack Greene (host): Walking on New Grass
The Four Guys: Way Down Deep
Jack Greene: Yours for the Taking.Midnight Tennessee Woman

6:45: Rudy's
Jimmy Dickens (host): Family Reunion
Skeeter Davis: 'T Ain't It Nice
Jimmy Dickens: Life Turned Her That Way

7:00: Shoney's
Bill Anderson (host): Po' Folks
Ray Pillow: Days When You Were Still in Love With Me
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
Charlie Louvin: When I Stop Dreaming
Bill Anderson: No Ordinary Memory

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Clyde Moody: The Kind of Love I Can't Forget
Zeke Clements: I'll Have to Live and Learn/Somebody's Been Beatin' My Time/Why Should I Cry/Just A Little Lovin'
Pee Wee King: Bonaparte's Retreat
Crook Brothers and The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Sally Goodin
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

8:00: Martha White
Jim Ed Brown (host): Lyin' In Love with You
Jimmy C Newman: La Cajun Band
Lorrie Morgan: Lone Star State of Mind
Curly Fox: Mockingbird/The Old Gray Mule
Riders In The Sky: Wayward Wind
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells

8:30: Music Valley Merchants
Hank Snow (host): I Don't Hurt Anymore
Jeannie Seely: It Should Be Easier Now
Stonewall Jackson: Muddy Water
Wilma Lee Cooper: Walking My Lord Up Calvary's Hill
George Hamilton IV: Forever Young
Hank Snow: A Faded Petal from a Beautiful Bouquet

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
The Four Guys: Tennessee
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Charlie Walker: Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
Bill Carlisle: White Lightening
Bill Anderson: Golden Guitar

10:00: Little Debbie
Jimmy Dickens (hos): Me & My Big Loud Mouth
Zeke Clements: The House at the End of the Road
Jimmy Dickens: I Leaned Over Backwards for You

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting in the Air
Pee Wee King: Tennessee Waltz
Roy Acuff: I Saw the Light

10:30: Pet Milk
Jimmy C Newman (host): Jambalaya
Jack Greene: All the Time
Jimmy C Newman: Let the Good Times Roll

10:45: Heil-Quaker
Jim Ed Brown (host): Everyday People
Clyde Moody: Somebody Loves You Darling
Crook Brothers and The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Gray Eagle
Jim Ed Brown: Morning

11:00: Coca Cola
Hank Snow (host): Caribbean
Wilma Lee Cooper: I'm Picking Up the Pieces
Curly Fox: Alabama Jubilee
Lorrie Morgan: Candy Kisses
Hank Snow: I'm Glad I Got to See You Once Again

11:30: B. C. Powder
George Hamilton IV (host): Break My Mind
Riders In The Sky: Riding Down the Canyon
Jeannie Seely: Pride/It Should Be Easier Now
George Hamilton IV: She's a Little Bit Country

Zeke Clements was one of those who appeared that night.

Zeke Clements, also known as "The Dixie Yodeler" was born on September 6, 1911 near Empire, Alabama.

 In 1928, his career began when he joined Otto Gray and his Oklahoma Cowboys touring show and was signed to the National Barn Dance at WLS in Chicago. In 1930, he performed on the Grand Ole Opry for the first time and he became a member of the Bronco Busters, led by Texas Ruby. In 1932, Zeke and The Bronco Busters became members of the Opry.

In the 1930 and 1940s, Clements appeared as a singing cowboy in several of Charles Starrett's B-Westerns. During this time, he also provided the voice of Bashful, the yodeling dwarf, in Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

After leaving the Opry for a short amount of time while he was filming his movies, Zeke formed the Western Swing Gang and returned to the Opry in 1939. He had his first major country hit with Smoke On the Water. The song was recorded by Red Foley in 1944 and became the No.1 Country Recording of 1945. Also in 1945, he started Liberty Records in Southern California. It was later renamed Blazon Records. After a short stint on the Louisiana Hayride in the later 1940s, he appeared on several radio stations in the South. In the 1960s, he moved to Florida and joined a Dixieland band as banjo player.

Zeke Clements passed away in Nashville in 1994.

Also appearing that night was Curly Fox.

Arnim LeRoy Fox was born in Graysville, Tennessee. His father, a barber, taught him to play the fiddle, with help from James McCarroll of the Roane Country Ramblers. He began his professional career playing and traveling with Chief White Owl's "Indian" medicine show. Fox soon began working with Claude Davis and the Carolina Tar Heels in Atlanta and founded the Tennessee Firecrackers. He played and recorded with the Shelton Brothers in New Orleans from 1934 to 1936, also recording three singles himself.

 In 1937, he met Texas Ruby (born Ruby Agnes Owens in Wise County, Texas) at the Texas centennial celebration. Ruby, a true cowgirl and sister of radio cowboy Tex Owens, had sung several times on the Grand Ole Opry and various radio stations with Zeke Clements and His Bronco Busters. Soon after meeting Fox, the two married and began appearing on the Opry from 1937-39 and again from 1944-48. In between, they worked in Cincinnati and at other major stations as well.

The duo did make some recordings, but according to Fox, Ruby's throaty contralto didn't sound as good on records as it did on the radio. Her best recordings were made for King in 1947. In 1948 the couple moved to Houston, where they lived and worked for ten years bringing country music to local television.

In 1960, they returned to the Grand Ole Opry. Unfortunately, Ruby's health was failing, so Fox often played alone. They did manage to record an album for Starday in 1963, but shortly thereafter, Ruby burned to death in a mobile home fire while her husband was playing on the Opry. Fox continued his solo career for a while after her death, but then left for Chicago to live with one of his daughters. Though he too suffered ill health, he made some albums and occasionally appeared live. He returned to his hometown in the mid-'70s and worked with a local bluegrass band before retiring to live with an older sister.

Curly Fox passed away in 1995.

There you have it for this week. As always, thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Opry Encore on RFD-TV

Thanks to my friend Jason, I am pleased to post that RFD-TV has posted that "new" episodes of Opry Encore, which is shown Saturday night at 9:00, will begin this week. Here is the updated list of shows for April:

Saturday April 11
Roy Acuff (host); Stonewall Jackson; Del Wood; Glen Campbell
(from October 10, 1987, which was also the Opry's 62nd birthday bash)

Saturday April 18
Jim Ed Brown (host); Bill Carlisle; Jeanne Pruett; Vince Gill
(from January 27, 1990)

April 25
Ricky Skaggs (host); George Hamilton IV; Patty Loveless; Forrester Sisters
(from February 8, 1992)

I know many of us were wondering if RFD-TV would continue showing these old TNN Opry shows with the emergence of Circle and that network's association with the Opry and Ryman Hospitality. It's good to see these shows continuing with new inventory. Nothing against the shows that were being run, but over the last several months, it seems as if the same 5 or 6 dates were being shown over and over.

It makes for a very nice Saturday night. At 8:00 (7:00 central) we can watch the live Opry show on Circle and then at 9:00 (8:00 central) switch over to RFD-TV and see a great classic Opry show.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

April Opry Highlights

April showers bring May flowers!!! Welcome to Spring, when the trees begin to bloom and everyone starts to get anxious to get their gardens in. Here in Ohio it is still a bit early but the warmer weather and later sunsets is a nice sign. As far as the Grand Ole Opry is concerned, here are the important dates in Opry history for the month of April.

April 19, 1924: The WLS "National Barn Dance" was aired for the first time in Chicago. The National Barn Dance was the first of what would be many weekly barn dance programs sponsored by various radio stations around the country. Among the performers who were part of the "National Barn Dance" were Lulu Belle & Scotty, Bradley Kincaid, Gene Autry and a host of others. The "National Barn Dance" lasted until 1960 when the station changed formats. As many know, especially my friends in the Chicago area, WLS stood for "World's Largest Store," which was Sears, who were the owners of the station.

April 17, 1926: Uncle Dave Macon became a regular member of the WSM Barn Dance, soon to be known as the Grand Ole Opry. At the age of 55, he was the first performer to join the show that had a national reputation and his hiring, in a way, would start the show on the path of becoming a group of professional entertainers instead of those, who as George D. Hay used to say, "came down from the hills for the weekend." Uncle Dave would remain a popular Opry member until his death on March 1, 1952, at the age of 81.

April 14, 1932: Grand Ole Opry member Loretta Lynn was born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. Loretta joined the cast of the Opry in September 1962. At the age of 87, Loretta continues her recovery following her hip surgery and stroke.

April 30, 1932: The Dixieliners, which consisted of Kirk and Sam McGee, along with Arthur Smith, made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. All three had been performing on the Opry for several years, but this was the first time that they teamed up as an organized group. Their popularity and reputation grew and within a short amount of time they had two ten-minute segments on the show. It began to end for the Dixieliners in 1938 as Arthur had a drinking problem and was suspended from the Opry. On January 14, 1939, the Dixieliners made their final Opry appearance, after which Arthur left the Opry, while Sam and Kirk would continue on for many years.

April 11, 1933: Grand Ole Opry member Roy Clark was born in Meherrin, Virginia. Roy, who joined the Grand Ole Opry in August 1987, passed away last year. In addition to being a member of the Grand Ole Opry, Roy was also a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and gained fame as the co-host of Hee Haw.

April 29, 1933: The Delmore Brothers, Rabon and Alton, made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. The brothers remained members of the Opry until 1938 when they left to pursue what they felt were better opportunities. Alton would later write an excellent book, "Truth is Stranger" in which he detailed their time at the Opry and the issues that they had with George D. Hay and Harry Stone. After leaving the Opry, the Delmore Brothers moved around the country and had shows at various radio stations until they played out the territory and moved on. They eventually ended up at WLW in Cincinnati, where they got together with Grandpa Jones and Merle Travis and recorded under the name "Browns Ferry Four." Each of these individuals would eventually be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. September 11, 1938 was the final Opry show for the Delmore Brothers and they sang, "What Would You Give in Exchange for Your Soul."

April 1, 1934: Country Music Hall of Fame member, and former Opry member, Jim Ed Brown was born in Sparkman, Arkansas. Jim Ed was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for over 50 years, which included time with his sisters Bonnie and Maxine.

April 15, 1937: Bob Luman was born. Bob gained fame as a member of the Louisiana Hayride, and then came to Nashville, joining the Grand Ole Opry in 1965. When Bob joined the Opry, many felt that he had too much "rock-n-roll" in him, but he was a very popular member of the Opry and fans enjoyed his performances. Bob remained at the Opry until he passed away in December 1978.

April 26, 1941: Ernest Tubb recorded "Walking the Floor Over You" in Dallas, Texas. This recording was also the first to use an electric guitar. The success of this record, which would become Ernest's theme song, led him to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry several years later.

April 14, 1945: Upon the death of President Franklin Roosevelt, a performance of taps was played from the stage of the Opry. This marked the first time that a trumpet was played during an Opry broadcast. Buddy Harroll, part of Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys was the performer, and while it was the right thing to do, George D. Hay was not thrilled. Also of note, while there was an Opry performance that night, it was not broadcast on WSM as the station was running NBC network programming commemorating the life and death of the President.

April 6, 1946: Roy Acuff quit the Opry in a salary dispute. At the time, he was the host of "The Prince Albert Show" segment of the Opry that was broadcast on the NBC radio network. He was making $15 per night at the Opry and asked for a raise to $100 per night. When WSM refused his demands, he left the show and went out to California for an extended tour. Over the years, Roy never talked much about the whole episode, but he knew that as the Opry's biggest star, he could make more money out on the road and have extra time to make movies. A year later, Roy would return to the Opry and when he did, he was paid more than union scale.

April 13, 1946: A week after Roy Acuff left, Red Foley became a member of the Grand Ole Opry and debuted as the new host of "The Prince Albert Show." There is a story behind this. After Roy quit, William Esty and Company, which was the advertising agency that represented R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the makers of Prince Albert chewing tobacco, undertook a study to determine how best to replace Roy Acuff as the host of the program. Most listeners wanted the Opry to continue without any changes, but it was clear after all the questioning was done that a large portion of the Opry fans wanted more music and less talk, suggesting that a singer needed to be hired as the replacement. Esty checked all the available data, which included record sales, jukebox plays and radio favorites, and it all pointed to Red Foley. Red would later say, "I guess I was never more scared than that night I replaced Roy Acuff. The people thought I was a Chicago slicker who came to pass himself off as a country boy and bump Roy out of his job." While it is true that Red came to the Opry from WLS in Chicago, he was actually born in Kentucky and had a string of country hits. It is interesting to note that while Red became a member of the Opry, he only appeared on, and hosted, the Prince Albert segment of the show.

April 13, 1946: The same night that Red Foley came to the Opry, so did Chet Atkins, who was introduced that night by Red. Chet stayed at the Opry with Red for just six months, when he left in his own dispute with Esty. Chet would return later with the Maybelle Carter and the Carter Sisters and he would continue to make guest appearances until his death.

April 2, 1947: Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame member Emmylou Harris was born. Emmylou joined the cast of the Opry in January 1992, the last member of the cast to have been inducted by Roy Acuff. Sadly, Emmylou does not appear on the Opry as often as many of us would like.

April 19, 1947: Roy Acuff returned to the Grand Ole Opry. Roy left the Opry a year earlier in what some said was due to a salary dispute. On the night he returned, Roy was a guest on the Prince Albert portion of the show. The following Saturday, he would take over as the host of the Royal Crown Cola portion of the Opry.

April 26, 1947: Just over a year after leaving the Opry, Roy Acuff returned as host of the "Royal Crown Cola Show." There is a story that Ernest Tubb and Harry Stone went to see Roy, who was in a Nashville hospital, telling him that the Opry might go under if he didn't return. While there is no evidence that the Opry was about to go under, the words worked and Roy came back, this time to stay for good.

April 3, 1948: The Louisiana Hayride started on KWKH in Shreveport, Louisiana. Over the next decade, the Hayride would become known as a farm club of the Opry, with many of the Hayride's biggest stars leaving Shreveport for Nashville. Among those were David Houston, Billy Walker, Webb Pierce, Jim Reeves, Faron Young, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. The Hayride was also were Elvis Presley got his start. While the Hayride was very successful with Horace Logan at the helm, the lack of a recording industry in Shreveport meant that the stars had to go elsewhere, including Nashville to record. Once there, the Opry grabbed many of them.

April 26, 1952: Martha Carson, the great gospel singer, joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. She came to the Opry on the strength of her hit "Satisfied." Martha remained a member of the Opry until 1957, at which time she took a leave of absence when her first child was born and to spend some time working in New York City. However, when it came time for her to return, the Opry would not hire her back. According to Martha, "I got a leave of absence from the Opry. I didn't quit and I wasn't fired. When I came back to Nashville, Opry manager Ott Devine said they had no openings. I never did go back. I never even got to be a guest." Obviously a poor decision by Ott and the Opry's management.

April 9, 1953: Grand Ole Opry member Hal Ketchum was born. Hal, who over the past several years has experienced some serious health issues, joined the Opry in January 1994.

April 18, 1953: Red Foley made his final Grand Ole Opry appearance as the host of "The Prince Albert Show." Red made the decision to leave Nashville and go to the Ozark Jubilee, which was televised. Red had numerous personal issues when he was with the Opry and when he decided to leave, the Opry had no objections. While many wondered about Red when he first came to the Opry, he become one of the Opry's biggest stars and one of the more popular members. After he left, "The Prince Albert Show" no longer had a permanent host.

April 12, 1957: Grand Ole Opry member Vince Gill was born. Vince has been a loyal and vocal member of the Opry since 1991. While Vince has always supported the Opry, and has been very vocal in that support, last year saw him just a few times on the show as he was busy touring with his own show and as a member of The Eagles. Who else finds it hard to believe that Vince will be 63 this year?

April 4, 1959: Bill Anderson made his debut as a guest on the Grand Ole Opry. Several years later, in July 1961, Bill would become an Opry member.

April 30, 1960: The WLS "National Barn Dance" aired for the final time. At one time, the barn dance was considered a major competitor of the Opry, and while it lasted much longer than others, like those others, it could not sustain itself as musical tastes changed.

April 30, 1966: Ray Pillow became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Ray's 54th year as an Opry member. On the night he joined, Ernest Tubb introduced him. Ray hasn't been on the Opry for a few years so the thinking is that he is now retired.

April 22, 1967: The Four Guys became members of the Grand Ole Opry. They came to the Opry from the Wheeling, West Virginia area and spent 33 years as members of the Opry until they were fired in April 2000. The reason given for their termination was the fact that all four of the original members had left the group. For a number of years, they operated a very successful dinner theater in Nashville and were a popular cruise trip attraction.

April 6, 1968: Following the assassination of Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., the city of Nashville imposed a curfew that forced the Opry to cancel the live show for that night. WSM played a previously taped Opry appearance. After being notified that the show was going to be cancelled, Roy Acuff, Sam and Kirk McGee, along with a few others, put on a makeshift show at a nearby square dance hall that afternoon for Opry fans who came to town to attend the Opry. WSM and the Opry claims this was the only time that the Opry was ever cancelled, however when looking at the Opry's history, it was not the first.

April 6, 1968: On that same evening as the Opry was cancelled, Bud Wendall became the new general manager of the Grand Ole Opry. He replaced Ott Devine, who had been in charge of the Opry since 1959.

April 21, 1971: After taking a break to raise her children, Connie Smith returned as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Connie joined the Opry in 1965. At the time she returned, Connie had been gone for about two years.

April 12, 1972: The first "Fan Fair" was held in Nashville. It was so successful that it would become an annual event, eventually moving to June and the summer tourist season. Fan Fair was a chance for the fans to meet their favorite country music stars and the Opry was a big part of the event. It still takes place, although it is now called "CMA Music Fest."

April 27, 1972: Opryland opens for the first time. The park was an immediate hit and within several years, the Opry House would be completed and the Opry would make the move. Opryland shut down at the end of 1997 and replaced by Opry Mills shopping center. Yes, while it may seem hard to believe, Opryland has been closed for 20 years.

April 28, 1973: Conway Twitty performed on the Opry for the first time. While never becoming an Opry member, Conway had one of the great voices in the history of country music.

April 5, 1975: After having been suspended from the Opry in December 1973, Skeeter Davis was welcomed back to the show. Several Opry members had gone to Bud Wendall, asking that she be allowed to return to the show. When Skeeter returned, she did apologize for those safety forces that she might have offended.

April 23, 1976: Don Williams is introduced as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. Jeanne Pruett did the honors. As everyone knows, Don and the Opry experience didn't really work and he left the show several years later. Even though he left the Opry as a member, he did return for a couple of guest appearances.

April 2, 1977: Vito Pellettieri worked his final show as the stage manager of the Grand Ole Opry. Several days later, he suffered a stroke and on April 14 he passed away at the age of 87. While very few people have heard of Vito, he was probably one of the most influential people in the history of the Opry, so much so that he was never really replaced when he passed away. Years after his death, one veteran Opry member said, "I miss Vito. You know, we don't have a marshal anymore. What we have out there is a piece of paper in a box, with a list of acts and when they're supposed to go on. But we don't have anybody encouraging us, goading us, giving us advice on how to do better. Nobody to jack us up." One of Vito's closest friends was Hank Snow and Hank wrote extensively about Vito in his autobiography, including the jokes they used to play on each other. Now for those who do not know, Vito was WSM's librarian and started as the Opry's stage manager in 1934. He was the one who set up the Opry on a schedule, with assigned times and slots for each performer. He broke the show into segments with sponsors. Before that, it had been a free-for-all, with the artists coming and going as they pleased. In 1959, Vito faced mandatory retirement at WSM. However, every one of the Opry's members signed a petition demanding that Vito be allowed to continue working at the Opry and that November at the annual disc jockey convention, Opry members staged a show in Vito's honor. By the way, Vito never drove or owned a car and took the bus to WSM and the Opry each day.

April 13, 1981: Guy Willis of the Willis Brothers died at the age of 65. The Willis Brothers consisted of Guy, Skeeter and Vic. They originally joined the Opry in 1946, but left in 1948 to go on the road with Eddy Arnold. They rejoined the Opry in 1960. Skeeter passed away in 1976, after which Guy and Vic continued on, until Guy retired from performing in 1979 due to illness.

April 3, 1982: DeFord Bailey made his final appearance at the Grand Ole Opry. An early member of the show, DeFord had returned in the 1970s and made several appearances on the Opry's annual reunion shows.

April 13, 1985: The Grand Ole Opry was broadcast for the first time on TNN. The original shows were a half hour in length, later expanding to an hour. In 2001 the broadcast moved to CMT and then later to GAC in 2003. The first televised show was a one hour edition and featured Roy Acuff, as the host for the first half hour, with Connie Smith, Minnie Pearl and the Four Guys as guests. The 2nd half hour was hosted by Porter Wagoner and featured Dottie West, Jack Greene, the Crook Brothers and the Melvin Sloan Dancers. Those original TNN shows were not scripted for television and were nothing more than the radio show with a camera. As a result, the timing was sometimes a little bit off and the hosts forgot they were on television and would mention the names of the radio sponsors.

April 22, 1989: Clint Black made his first appearance as a guest at the Grand Ole Opry. In 1991, Clint would become an Opry member.

April 20, 1991: Emmylou Harris began a three night run at the Ryman Auditorium, during which her recording of "At The Ryman" took place. It marked one of the first uses of the Ryman for a concert performance since the Opry had left in 1974. Due to the condition of the building, only a small portion of the seating was able to be used. Those shows with Emmylou helped to spark the idea of renovating and reopening the Ryman.

April 2, 1994: During the TNN telecast of the Opry, an all-star bluegrass jam took place that featured Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Roy Husky, Jr., Marty Stuart, Alison Krauss and Earl Scruggs. Vince said, "That's what this place is all about. Night that are like that."

April 12, 1997: Lewis Crook passed away in Nashville at the age of 87. The Crook Brothers joined the Opry on July 24, 1926, so it is safe to say that they were original members of the WSM Barn Dance. The Crook Brothers remained at the Opry until 1988, a total of 62 years. Lewis was not with the Crook Brothers when they originally began at the Opry, joining the group later in 1928. After Herman passed away and the Crook Brothers name was retired, Lewis would continue to play and make appearances with the Opry's Square Dance Band. When you add it all up and do the math, Lewis was at the Opry on and off for almost 69 years.

April 6, 1998: Former Grand Ole Opry member Tammy Wynette passed away in Nashville at the age of 55. She had been battling health issues for a number of years. Tammy joined the Opry in 1969 and remained for just a few years.

April 4, 1998: Grand Ole Opry member Jerry Clower made his final appearances on the Opry. Jerry, who joined the cast in October 1973, appeared on both Saturday shows that weekend, along with the Friday Night Opry the night before. Jerry passed away in August 1998 due to complications from heart surgery.

April 18, 1998: Diamond Rio became members of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be their 22nd year as Opry members, and overall, they have been pretty good members of the Opry's cast.

April 12, 1999: Lecil Martin, known better as Boxcar Willie, passed away in Branson, Missouri after an extended illness. He was 67. Boxcar joined the Opry in 1981 at the personal invitation of Roy Acuff, who was a real fan of Boxcar, so much so that when Boxcar was on the Opry, and Roy was there, he would come out and do his famous train whistle during the Wabash Cannonball.

April 17, 2004: The Judds made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. While never becoming Opry members, they would show up a time or two on the show.

April 30, 2004: The Grand Ole Opry took to the road and sponsored the "Grand Ole Opry American Road Show." The appearance took place in York, Pennsylvania and included Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, the Del McCoury Band and Rebecca Lynn Howard.

April 21, 2012: Keith Urban became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 8th year as an Opry member. Sorry to say that Keith hasn't been around much since joining the cast.

April 26, 2013: The Grand Ole Opry dedicated the shows that weekend to Opry member George Jones, who had passed away several days earlier. Those performing included Brad Paisley, Montgomery Gentry and John Conlee.

April 11, 2015: Long time Grand Ole Opry member Jim Ed Brown made his final Opry appearance. The newly elected member of the Country Music Hall of Fame had been an Opry member for just over 50 years.

April 30, 2016: Ray Pillow was recognized upon is 50th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Opry general manager Pete Fisher presented Ray with a gold pocket watch.

April 7, 2018: Former Grand Ole Opry member Bobby Bare was reinstated as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Bobby, who originally joined the Opry in 1964, left the Opry in 1974, just after when the show moved from the Ryman Auditorium to the new Grand Ole Opry House. It has been a few years since Bobby has appeared on the Opry and hopefully he is doing better.

April 16, 2019: Kelsea Ballerini became the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. Kelsea was invited to join the cast by Little Big Town during the Tuesday Night Opry on March 5.

There you have it for this month and as usual, it was a busy one around the Opry.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Grand Ole Opry 4/3 & 4/4

It seems like every week is tough and this past one was another one as we lost two members of the Grand Ole Opry. Jan Howard and Joe Diffie passed away this past weekend. Both will be missed. Jan was one of the "Grand Ladies" of the Grand Ole Opry, while Joe was a very popular member who joined the cast in the early 1990s. Both will be missed and I have enjoyed reading the many tributes that have come in for both, especially the articles and comments on Jan. We should all have great memories of each one.

As to the Grand Ole Opry show for Saturday night, it will be a trio of ladies that will be performing on the Opry stage, which in addition to being broadcast on WSM and Circle, will also be available through the various streaming sites.

Opry member Terri Clark, and guest artists Ashley McBryde and Lauren Alaina, along with host Bobby Bones, will be on the stage this weekend. All are very talented and it should be another very nice show.

And now, here is the Grand Ole Opry line-up from 25 years ago, the first weekend in April 1995:

Saturday April 1, 1995
1st show
6:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Bill Carlisle
6:45: Bill Monroe (host); Wilma Lee Cooper
7:00: Jean Shepard (host); Skeeter Davis; Hank Locklin; Jimmy C Newman; Stu Phillips
7:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Jeanne Pruett; John Conlee; George Lindsay
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Roy Drusky; Jan Howard; Del Reeves; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Singers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Charlie Walker; Charlie Louvin; The Four Guys

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Roy Drusky; Brother Oswald; Jan Howard; Del Reeves
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); Jean Shepard
10:15: Grandpa Jones (host); Rhonda Vincent
10:30: John Conlee (host); The Four Guys
10:45: Jeanne Pruett (host); Hank Locklin; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Charlie Louvin; Ray Pillow; Jimmy C Newman;
11:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Charlie Walker

Now from 50 years ago, Saturday April 4, 1970:

1st show
6:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Stu Phillips; Del Wood
6:45: George Morgan (host); Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper; Ernie Ashworth
7:00: Roy Acuff (host); Ray Pillow; Stringbean
7:30: Archie Campbell (host); Willis Brothers; Leroy Van Dyke; Crook Brothers
8:00: Jack Greene (host); Jeannie Seely; Jim and Jesse; Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan
8:30: Ernest Tubb (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Grandpa Jones; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Lonzo and Oscar; Billy Parker

2nd show
9:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Willis Brothers; George Morgan; Ray Pillow; Del Wood
10:00: Stu Phillips (host); Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper; Ernie Ashworth
10:15: Roy Acuff (host); Archie and Phil Campbell; Stringbean
10:30: Jack Greene (host); Jeannie Seely; Leroy Van Dyke
10:45: Ernest Tubb (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Crook Brothers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Grandpa and Ramona Jones; Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan; Fruit Jar Drinkers: Snuffy Miller; Sam McGee
11:30: Marty Robbins (host); Jim and Jesse; Lonzo and Oscar

Looking  back at significant dates at the Grand Ole Opry, it was Saturday April 4, 1998 that Opry member Jerry Clower made his final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.

Jerry Clower was known as one of the country’s top comedians, but he also wrote a number of books. He is not only known for his comedy, but also for his religious influence.

Jerry Clower was born in Liberty, Mississippi, on September 28, 1926. He grew up in Amite County among family and friends who became the source of his funny routines. After he graduated from high school in l944, he joined the navy. Soon after he was discharged, he earned a football scholarship at Southwest Junior College.  Later, he won another scholarship to Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi.

Jerry majored in agriculture at Mississippi State and received a job with Mississippi Chemical Company where he became the Director of Field Services for his company. While working, he gained popularity when his coworkers heard his Coon Hunt Story and other comedy routines. One of his close friends suggested that Clower record an album with some of his routines. Jerry liked the idea and recorded an album under the Lemon label.

His first album was named Jerry Clower from Yazoo City Talkin’, and it sold over 8,000 copies without being advertised. He received a contract with MCA in l97l, which sent his album to the billboard charts. Soon after, he recorded a second album, From the Mouth of Mississippi. His third album was called Clower Power, and his fourth was Live in Picayune. As a result of these albums, he earned the title of Country Music’s funniest man.

Jerry Clower joined the Grand Ole Opry in October 1973 and was the last member to join the Opry while it was still at the Ryman Auditorium. He passed away on August 24, 1998 following heart surgery.

Here is the running order from 22 years ago, the night of Jerry Clower's final appearance on the Opry:

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Bill Anderson (host): Family Reunion
Bill Carlisle: Is Zat You Myrtle
Bill Anderson: Five Little Fingers

6:45: Joggin' In A Jug
Jimmy C Newman (host): La Cajun Band
Skeeter Davis: Wait a Little Longer, Please Jesus
Jimmy C Newman; Diggy Liggy Lo

7:00: Shoney's
Jimmy Dickens (host): Out Behind the Barn
Brother Oswald: Never Grow Old
Holly Dunn: Daddy's Hands
Charlie Louvin: When I Stop Dreaming
Del Reeves: Girl on the Billboard
Jimmy Dickens: I Love Lucy Brown

7:30: Standard Candy
Jerry Clower (host): No Dogs in Hotel
Riders In The Sky: How Does He Yodel/Along the Timber Trail
Patty Loveless: To Have You Back Again/You Don't Seem to Miss Me
Jerry Clower: (?)

8:00: Martha White
Porter Wagoner (host): Lost All My Money But A $2 Bill
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
The Whites: Pins & Needles
 Vince Gill: When I Call Your Name
Vince Gill and Patty Loveless: Go Rest High on That Mountain
Opry Square Dance Band and The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Sugar in the Goard

8:30: Opry Book
Johnny Russell (host): Got No Reason Now for Going Home
The Four Guys: My Special Angel
Jean Shepard: Slippin' Away
Stu Phillips: The Great El Tigrae
Jeannie Seely: Speaking of the Devil
Johnny Russell: Making Plans

2nd show
9:30: Opry Book
Porter Wagoner (host): Tennessee Saturday Night
Wilma Lee Cooper: The Legend of the Dogwood Tree
Ray Pillow: Cinderella
Patty Loveless: To Have You Back Again/If My Heart Had Windows/Timer I'm Falling in Love
Christie Lynn: Head on Over to the Twist & Shout

10:00: Opry Book
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take an Old Cold Tater
Jan Howard: Love's Gonna Live Here
Jimmy Dickens: We Could/Mountain Dew

10:15: Banquet
Jimmy C Newman (host): Bayou Blues
Jean Shepard: Tennessee Waltz
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya/Cajun Stripper

10:30: Purnell's
Jerry Clower (host): Big Red Goat
Holly Dunn: Daddy's Hands
Jerry Clower: (?)

10:45: Ryman Cruise
Bill Anderson (host): I'm All Right
Opry Square Dance Band and The Melvin Sloan Singers: Ida Red
Bill Anderson: 3 A.M.

11:00: Coca Cola
The Four Guys (host): Cottonfields/Mariah
Riders In The Sky: That's Amore
Charlie Walker: Smoke, Smoke, Smoke
The Whites: He Took Your Place
Vince Gill and Patty Loveless: You're My Kind of Woman; You're My Kind of Man
The Four Guys: May You Always

11:30: Turbo Nutrition
Johnny Russell (host): Someday I'll Sober Up
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away/Jesus Walks In/Ashes of Love/Blue Moon of Kentucky/That's All Right
Jeannie Seely: Bubbles in My Beer/Another Bridge to Burn
Johnny Russell: Orange Blossom Special

There you have it for this week. I wish there was more to add. As always, thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!

Be safe!!!!!