Monday, January 30, 2023

February Opry Highlights

The month of February starts in just a few more days, and while we are still in the dead of winter here in Ohio, there is positive news. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in few weeks which means spring is right around the corner, so we have that to look forward to. Now, as usual, here are the important or historical events that have taken place at the Grand Ole Opry, or with Opry members, 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 for 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. Pee Wee also wrote an autobiography that is an excellent read and a book that I highly recommend.

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 7, 1921: Wilma Lee Leary, better known as Wilma Lee Cooper, was born in Valley Head, West Virginia. Along with her husband Stoney, Wilma Lee came to the Opry from the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree in 1957. After Stoney passed away, Wilma Lee continued as a member of the Opry until her death in 2011.

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. Some believe that Ralph should receive consideration in regard to the Country Music Hall of Fame, of which I would not disagree.

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. Overtime it has seemed that Harry Stone's influence at WSM and in the direction that the Opry eventually took has been overlooked, but he was an important part of the history of the radio station and the Opry. 

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. On the back wall at the Opry House, on the list of Opry members, Uncle Jimmy holds the top spot. 

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, led by Jack Shook, 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. After the group left the Opry, Jack Shook would go on to make recordings with Hank Williams, Eddy Arnold and Hank Snow, among others. 

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. Shortly 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, which was effective beginning February 26. 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: While several dates have been listed, it would appear that Ernest Tubb became an official member of the Grand Ole Opry on this particular date. As has been discovered with others, in its earliest years, the Opry didn't keep very accurate records. 

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 but the consensus seems to be that they were a little too progressive for the Opry. When discussion takes place regarding those who should be in the Hall of Fame but have been passed over, Rose and her brothers are frequently mentioned. 

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 become an Opry regular. 

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. While that was the main issue, there were other instances where Webb felt that he wasn't being fairly treated by the Opry's management. However, after Webb gave up his Opry membership, he would come back for an occasional appearance. 

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 become 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. Billy also gave the innovation at the opening of the new Grand Ole Opry House in March 1974.

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. From my own personal experience, George was one of the nicest guys in country music and it was always a joy and pleasure to sit and talk to him. I would also add that I believe George's contributions to country and folk music have been largely overlooked over the years. 

February 4, 1962: Grand Ole Opry member Clint Black was born. Yes, he will be 61 this year. 

February 7, 1962: Grand Ole Opry member, and Country Music Hall of Fame member, Garth Brooks was born. Much like Clint Black, isn't it hard to believe that Garth will be 61 this year?  Where has the time gone? While Clint's career has somewhat faded, Garth still continues to set attendance records wherever he performs. 

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. While Patsy's time at the Opry was short, she had a tremendous influence. 

February 12, 1966: After taking a leave of absence from the Grand Ole Opry in December 1964, Minnie Pearl returned to the Opry. Minnie saw that she was probably going to be caught up in the Purge of 64 with the members who were fired from the show, thus she took the initiative and asked for a leave knowing that she would be back someday. 

February 19, 1966: Folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary made a special guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.

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 though 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 19, 1974: Grand Ole Opry members Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton announced the break-up of their act. Obviously, this affected the Opry greatly as Porter would continue as an Opry regular, however Dolly, who would remain an Opry member, would eventually fade away from making regular Opry appearances. 

February 23, 1974: Former Grand Ole Opry member DeFord Bailey performed on the Opry as part of the first of what would turn into, an annual reunion show featuring former Opry members. 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, 1976: Ronnie Milsap became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Ronnie's 47th year as an Opry member. Sadly, Ronnie has had his share of health problems over the past year and while he has continued touring, he has recently not appeared on the Opry. 

February 7, 1981: John Conlee became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be John's 42nd 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. Also, that night, former Grand Ole Opry member Tammy Wynette made an Opry appearance, her first since October 1975.

February 28, 1987: Grand Ole Opry member Archie Campbell made his final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Archie, who was also known as a star of Hee Haw, passed away in August 1987. For those who haven't, I would recommend a visit to the Archie Campbell Museum in Bulls Gap, Tennessee. It is free and wonderful. 

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, 1990: Grand Ole Opry member Loretta Lynn performed on the Opry for the first time with her sisters Crystal Gayle and Peggy Sue. 

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 businessman 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 31st year as an Opry member. Travis is the only member in the history of the Opry who joined the cast on February 29, leap year. Sadly, over the past decade, Travis has not been to the Opry very often. Also taking place that night was the Opry debut of Trisha Yearwood. She would join the Opry's cast a decade later. 

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 19, 1998: Grand Ole Opry member Grandpa Jones passed away from the effects of a stroke he had suffered earlier in the year. Grandpa had been a 50+ year member of the Opry and was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

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. I was at the show that night and it was a very memorable evening. 

February 19, 1999: Brother Oswald made his final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Oswald had been a part of the Opry for decades, originally coming to the show as part of Roy Acuff's group, then later becoming an Opry member after Roy passed away. 

February 17, 2001: Brad Paisley became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Brad's 22nd 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, the group has continued to make appearances on the Opry. 

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. Sadly, Charlie was not featured on the televised segment of the Opry that evening. 

February 8, 2007: In response to the recently filed lawsuit against the Grand Ole Opry officials file papers in a Nashville court to request a dismissal of Stonewall Jackson's age-discrimination suit. They note Jackson has turned down some opportunities to perform and call the suit an effort "to boost his own career"

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 14, 2015: Future Grand Ole Opry member Kelsea Ballerini made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry. Kelsea joined the Opry cast in 2019.

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

February 24, 2017: Grand Ole Opry member Roy Clark performed on the Grand Ole Opry for the final time. Roy joined the Opry's cast in August 1987. Roy passed away on November 15, 2018.

February 28, 2017: Travis Tritt returned to the Opry stage for the first time since 2007, upon the occasion of his 25th year as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

February 8, 2018: Steve Buchanan, President of the Grand Ole Opry, announced his retirement. Steve was instrumental in bringing in Pete Fisher as the Opry's general manager, and in expanding the Opry brand in Nashville and beyond. Steve was also the executive producer of "Nashville," which included the Opry and several of its members in many of their shows. An argument can be made that Steve would be a solid candidate for the Country Music Hall of Fame in the contributors' category.

February 15, 2019: William Shatner made his Grand Ole Opry debut, appearing with Jeff Cook from the group Alabama. 

February 7, 2020: Gene Watson was formally inducted as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. It was a well-deserved honor for Gene and well received. Grand Ole Opry member Steve Wariner handled the official induction. 

February 28, 2020: Rhonda Vincent was surprised by Opry member Jeannie Seely with an invitation to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Rhonda had been a guest on the Opry for several decades prior to the invitation. Due to Covid, her induction was delayed until 2021. 

February 6, 2021: After a yearlong wait due to Covid, Rhonda Vincent was finally inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. with Dierks Bentley doing the honors. Since joining the cast, Rhonda has embraced her membership and has appeared on the Opry numerous times over the past year. 

February 14, 2021: NBC-TV televised the Opry's 95th anniversary special. The show featured over a dozen of the Opry's more popular members and included the invitation by Darius Rucker to Lady A to become the Opry's newest member. The special had been filmed the previous month and Lady A's Opry induction took effect immediately, thus jumping Rhonda Vincent's. 

February 12, 2022: Lauren Alaina was formally inducted as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. Trisha Yearwood did the introduction and presented Lauren with her Opry member award, with Garth Brooks also appearing. 

There you have it for the month of February.


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Grand Ole Opry Saturday January 28

I don't know where the word "residency" came from, or when it started, but according to the Grand Ole Opry, their January "residency" at the Ryman Auditorium will come to a close this weekend as the Opry will be offering two shows on Saturday night. Next weekend, the Opry returns to the newly renovated Grand Ole Opry House, where it will take up "residence" for the remainder of the year. 

A couple of weeks ago, we were excited to see a lineup with only Grand Ole Opry members listed. While that is not the case this weekend, it is exciting to see that seven of the eight artists listed for each show are members of the Opry's cast. 

Bill Anderson, Jeannie Seely, Mandy Barnett, Bobby Osborne, Riders In The Sky and Lauren Alaina are scheduled for both shows on Saturday night, while Rhonda Vincent will open the early show and Dailey & Vincent will close the late show. The only non-Opry member on the schedule is veteran country artist David Nail, who first hit the country charts 20 years ago. 

1st show
7:00: Opry Square Dancers, Rhonda Vincent, Bill Anderson, David Nail, Jeannie Seely
8:00: Mandy Barnett, Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press, Riders In The Sky, Lauren Alaina

2nd show
9:30: Opry Square Dancers, Jeannie Seely, David Nail, Bill Anderson, Mandy Barnett
10:30: Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press, Riders In The Sky, Lauren Alaina, Dailey & Vincent

So, why is Rhonda only appearing on the first show? Well, it is going to be a busy weekend for Rhonda as the 48th Annual SPBGMA Bluegrass Music Awards & 39th National Convention & Band Championship will be taking place in Nashville this weekend, with Rhonda as one of the performing and nominated artists. The festivities will be taking place at the Sheraton Music City Hotel, just a couple of exits down Briley Parkway from the Opry House. After she appears on the Opry, she will be rushing over to the Sheraton to appear on the Bluegrass Music Awards Show. Others scheduled to appear on that show include Po' Ramblin' Boys, Larry Stephenson Band, The Grascals, and Dailey & Vincent, who will be rushing over to the Opry House in time to close out the late show. 

After Rhonda handles her duties at the Sheraton, she will be headed to the Troubadour Theater to host the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree, along with what I am sure will be some special guests. Yes, a busy Saturday for her. 

On a personal note, it has been a few years, but I have attended SPBGMA before. It is a great weekend of bluegrass music, workshops and an opportunity to meet many of the great bluegrass artists and groups. The lineup of those scheduled to perform this weekend is outstanding and while it is probably too late to make plans to attend this year, mark this on your calendar for 2024. It is well worth the trip. 


And now from 45 years ago, Saturday January 28, 1978: 
1st show
6:00: Charlie Walker (host); Skeeter Davis; The Willis Brothers; Justin Tubb; Dottie West; Ernie Ashworth
6:30: Del Reeves (host); Jan Howard; Roy Drusky
6:45: Archie Campbell (host); Bill Carlisle; Wilma Lee Cooper
7:00: Osborne Brothers (host); Charlie Louvin; Billy Grammer; Stonewall Jackson
7:30: Roy Acuff (host); Jim and Jesse; Lonzo and Oscar; Crook Brothers and The Tennessee Travelers
8:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Jeanne Pruett; The 4 Guys; Jimmy C Newman; Wilburn Brothers; Jimmy Dickens
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Anne Murray; Ray Pillow; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Stu Phillips

2nd show
9:30: Roy Drusky (host); Dottie West; Archie Campbell; Charlie Walker; Skeeter Davis; Jim and Jesse
10:00: Del Reeves (host); Willis Brothers; Ernie Ashworth
10:15: Roy Acuff (host); Jan Howard; Charlie Louvin; Lonzo and Oscar
10:30: Billy Grammer (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Bill Carlisle; Osborne Brothers
10:45: Stonewall Jackson (host); Justin Tubb; Crook Brothers and The Tennessee Travelers
11:00 Hank Snow (host); Jeanne Pruett; The 4 Guys; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Jimmy Dickens; Kirk McGee
11:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Ray Pillow; Wilburn Brothers; Stu Phillips

(Porter Wagoner, Jean Shepard and Marion worth were scheduled for both shows that night, while Grandpa Jones only appeared on the early show). 

An interesting guest that night, and someone who seldom appeared on the Opry, was Anne Murray. This was not Anne's Opry debut, as that took place in December 1972. 

Anne had a very successful career in country music, and as a cross-over artist. She recorded 32 studio albums and had 76 singles on the charts. In total, she has sold over 55 million records, including 10 #1 records. Her first big hit in the United States was "Snowbird" in 1970, which is also a song Hank Snow would sing frequently. Surprisingly, while it was a #1 hit on the Adult Contemporary Charts, it did not hit the top spot on the country charts. Her first #1 would have to wait until 1979 when "I Just Fell In Love" topped the country charts. Her greatest chart success would come in the early to mid-1980s, with her final #1 "Now and Forever" achieved in 1986. Anne was last on the charts in 1991, and while she would continue to perform for a few more years, she gradually went into retirement from performing. 

Anne has received four Grammys, a record 24 Junos, three American Music Awards, three Country Music Association Awards, and three Canadian Country Music Association Awards. She has been inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, the Juno Hall of Fame, The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame. She is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame Walkway of Stars in Nashville and has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles and on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto. A case can be made that she should be in the Country Music Hall of Fame, or at least in the conversation. 

Here is the running order from that night 45 years ago: 

1st show
6:00: Vietti
Charlie Walker (host): My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You
Skeeter Davis: It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels
Willis Brothers: For The Good Times
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong with the Way that We're Doing it Now
Dottie West: Every Word I Write
Ernie Ashworth: Wichita Woman
Charlie Walker: T For Texas

6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Del Reeves (host): Love's Gonna Live Here
Jan Howard: Better Off Alone
Roy Drusky: Second Hand Rose
Del Reeves: I Would Like to See You Again

6:45: Rudy's
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Bill Carlisle: Same Ol' Tale That the Crow Told Me
Wilma Lee Cooper: Walking My Lord Up Calvary's Hill
Archie Campell: Archie in New York in July

7:00: Shoney's
Osborne Brothers (host): Rocky Top
Charlie Louvin: When I Stop Dreaming/Warm, Warm Woman
Billy Grammer: Family Business
Stonewall Jackson: Life to Go/Washed My Hands in Muddy Water
Osborne Brothers: Midnight Flyer
Sonny Osborne: Cripple Creek/Cumberland Gap/Foggy Mountain Breakdown

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jim and Jesse: Then I'll Stop Going for You/Last Train to Clarksville
Lonzo and Oscar: Family Bible
Crook Brothers and The Tennessee Travelers: Buck Street Gal
Oswald: Mountain Dew
Roy Acuff: When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again

8:00: Martha White
Grandpa Jones (host): Uncle Eph's Got the Corn
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
The 4 Guys: Freedom Lives in a Country Song
Jimmy C Newman: Big Bayou
Wilburn Brothers: Country Kind of Feelings
Jimmy Dickens: Sleepin' at the Foot of the Bed
Grandpa Jones: It's Raining Here this Morning

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Anne Murray: Walk Right Back/He Thinks I Still Care/Snowbird
Ray Pillow: Texas
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Gray Eagle
Stu Phillips: Have I Told You Lately That I Love You/You Win Again/Release Me
Hank Snow: With This Ring, I Thee Wed

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Roy Drusky (host): A Satisfied Mind
Dottie West: That's All I Wanted to Know
Archie Campbell: Scarlet Ribbons
Charlie Walker: T For Texas
Skeeter Davis: Give All Into Love
Jim and Jesse: Paradise
Roy Drusky: Somewhere My Love

10:00: Fender
Del Reeves (host): Tow Dollars in the Jukebox/A Dime at a Time
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Ernie Ashworth: There's No Place I'd Rather Be Tonight
Del Reeves: Margaritaville

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Sunshine Special
Jan Howard: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Charlie Louvin: Store Up Love
Lonzo and Oscar: Fox on the Run
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

10:30: Trailblazer
Billy Grammer (host): Wabash Cannonball
Wilma Lee Cooper: Rachel's Guitar
Bill Carlisle: Have A Drink on Me
Osborne Brothers: Fastest Grass Alive

10:45: Beech-Nut
Stonewall Jackson (host): Angry Words
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong with the Way that We're Doing it Now
Crook Brothers and The Tennessee Travelers: Billy in the Low Ground
Stonewall Jackson: Waterloo

11:00: Coca Cola
Hank Snow (host): Golden Rocket
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
The 4 Guys: Turn Your Radio On
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Jimmy Dickens: John Henry
Kirk McGee: Blue Night
Hank Snow: Old Shep

11:30: Elm Hil
Jimmy C Newman (host): Big Mamou
Ray Pillow: Even the Bad Times Are Good/Gone At Last
Wilburn Brothers: Roll, Muddy River
Stu Phillips: I'd Rather Be Sorry
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya

There you have it for this week. As I wrote before, Saturday will complete the January "residency" at the Ryman Auditorium. Next weekend, the Opry will be back at the Grand Ole Opry House, beginning with the Friday Night Opry on February 3rd. 

As always, thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night. 






Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Grand Ole Opry Saturday January 21

This Saturday night will be special at the Ryman Auditorium as the Grand Ole Opry will be honoring Opry member Dolly Parton. 

The reason? I'll let the press release from the Opry explain it all: 

In honor of Dolly Parton’s 77th birthday (we can’t believe it either!), we’re taking a trip back to 1977 – the year Dolly’s album Here You Come Again hit the airwaves and crossed over from country to pop charts. Celebrate the living legend’s birthday with:  

77 hours of Dolly giveaways on social media 

Duncan Hines Dolly Parton’s birthday cupcakes for Opry House and Ryman tour guests on Dolly’s Jan. 19 birthday* 

A larger-than-life 77th birthday card for fans to sign at the Ryman from Jan.19 - 21 

A Dolly impersonator on the Ryman Plaza during Opry at the Ryman on Jan. 21  

“We love an Opry party and everyone around the world loves Dolly!” said Opry Executive Producer Dan Rogers. “Though Dolly herself can’t be with us this year due to her feature film schedule, I think we can all agree Dolly deserves to be celebrated this year and ever year. We’re going to have some fun Dolly additions to the great schedule of shows lined up for our January run downtown at the Ryman.”  

I like Dolly Parton a lot. She is a great entertainer, and more importantly, a great ambassador who cares about people and is always trying to do the right thing. But as an Opry member, Dolly has not been the best. In fact, the last time Dolly appeared on the Opry was for her 50th anniversary as an Opry member, which took place in October 2019. 

While I love the idea of doing a tribute show to celebrate her birthday, it would mean a lot more if Dolly actually was there and a part of it. I understand she is busy, with a lot going on in her life, and I am sure the Opry worked with her to try to come to some type of arrangement. I know, even with it being noted that Dolly is not going to be there on Saturday due to other commitments, there will be a number of disappointed fans who would be expecting her.

The lineup on Saturday to honor Dolly is impressive. Grand Ole Opry members Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, Rhonda Vincent, Chris Young and John Conlee are on the schedule. Guesting will be Chapel Hart, Fairfield Four and Caitlyn Smith. 

My understanding is that each of the artists are going to honor Dolly by singing one of her hits. While Dolly will not be there in person, hopefully there will be some type of video tribute or greeting to make the evening complete. 

1st show
7:00: Opry Square Dancers. John Conlee, Caitlyn Smith, Fairfield Four, Opry Square Dancers, Chris Young
8:00: Rhonda Vincent, Chapel Hart, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart

2nd show
9:30: Opry Square Dancers, John Conlee, Caitlyn Smith, Fairfield Four, Opry Square Dancers, Chris Young
10:30: Rhonda Vincent, Chapel Hart, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart

(Grand Ole Opry members highlighted)

This week and next, there will be no Friday Night Opry. When the decision was made to move the Opry to the Ryman Auditorium for the month of January, there were already shows book that they did not want to cancel. So, if you go to the Ryman this Friday you will see Lake Street Drive, with Monica Martin opening, while next week Kenny Wayne Shepherd will be sharing the stage with Samantha Fish. And actually, that will be a pretty good show. 

On a final note, in regard to Saturday night, there will be no live telecast on Circle TV. A previously aired show will be shown again. 


Now from 45 years ago, Saturday January 21, 1978: 

1st show
6:30: Jimmy C Newman (host), Charlie Walker, Ernie Ashworth
6:45: Billy Walker (host), Wilburn Brothers, Del Wood
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host), Skeeter Davis, Billy Grammer, Willis Brothers, Wilma Lee Cooper
7:30: Roy Acuff (host), Stonewall Jackson, Del Reeves, Bob Luman, Crook Brothers
8:00: Lester Flatt (host). Grandpa and Ramona Jones, Ray Pillow, Bill Carlisle, Stu Phillips
8:30: Hank Snow (host), Jeanne Pruett, Roy Drusky, Charlie Louvin, Lonzo and Oscar, Fruit Jar Drinkers

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host), Jimmy C Newman, Billy Walker, Wilburn Brothers, Skeeter Davis, Willis Brothers
10:00: Charlie Walker (host), Stu Phillips, Wilma Lee Cooper
10:15: Roy Acuff (host), Billy Grammer, Ernie Ashworth
10:30: Lester Flatt (host), Stonewall Jackson, Del Wood
10:45: Grandpa Jones (host), Del Reeves, Bob Luman, Crook Brothers
11:00: Hank Snow (host), Jeanne Pruett, Fruit Jar Drinkers, Ray Pillow, Kirk McGee
11:30: Charlie Louvin (host), Roy Drusky, Lonzo and Oscar, Bill Carlisle

(After the first two shows of 1978 starting at 6:00, it was back to a 6:30 start on this third weekend of the year)


I was at the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday January 21, 1995. It was an exciting night as Brother Oswald was inducted as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. Brother Oswald, of course, was a member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys. After the death of Roy in 1992, Oswald continued to make appearances on the Opry, usually with Charlie Collins. I was told that it was due to the efforts of Porter Wagoner and Marty Stuart that culminated in Oswald being offered Opry membership. As the story went, Porter, along with Opry management, talked to various members of the Opry and no one objected to Oswald being invited to join the cast. 

Here is the running order from that night 28 years ago: 

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): Have a Feast Here Tonight
George Riddle and 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 and Opry Cast: Wabash Cannonball

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
Jimmy C Newman: Allons Ah 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 and The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Bill Cheatham
Bill Anderson: The Touch of the Master's Hand

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): Silver Rails
The 4 Guys: Big River
Billy 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
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'all Come
Wilma Lee Cooper: The Legend of the Dogwood Tree
Osborne Brothers: I'll Be Alright 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 Guitars
Marty Stuart (host): Tempted
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
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 and The 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
The 4 Guys: I Know; I Know
Jack Greene: A Highway to the Sky
Johnny Russell: Baptism of Jesse Taylor
Bill Anderson: Deck of Cards

Thinking back to that night, there are a couple of things that stand out. First, if I remember right, there was no prior announcement that Oswald was going to become a member that night. Secondly, I remember Marty Stuart, Porter Wagoner, Jimmy Dickens and Boxcar Willie all out on stage for the announcement, with Boxcar standing off to the side urging the crowd to stand up and applaud. 

Oswald would remain an Opry member until he passed away on October 17, 2002, after a period of declining health.  

That covers it for this week. As always, thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Opry on Saturday night and the tribute to Dolly Parton. 












Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Grand Ole Opry 1/13 & 1/14

Starting off with the big news from last Friday night at the Grand Ole Opry: 

From the Nashville Tennessean:

Grand Ole Opry members Connie Smith and Marty Stuart invited Gary Mule Deer and Henry Cho -- a pair of comedians with more than 100 combined appearances on the show -- to become the 229th and 230th members of the cast of the near century-old program on Friday evening at the kickoff of a special "Opry at the Ryman" series of Opry presentations at the Ryman Auditorium.

"They wanted to start the year off with a smile … So, on behalf of the Grand Ole Opry, the staff, and the cast, we just don't think we could do without you anymore. You've been family for a long time, and we'd like to invite you to be members of the Grand Ole Opry," stated Stuart via a Facebook Live chat before the proceedings.

"Marty, Henry, and Gary said it best themselves when they were talking before tonight's invitation," said Opry Executive Producer Dan Rogers. "Comedy has been an integral -- and more importantly, FUN -- part of the Opry for decades. It's going to be fabulous to have both Henry and Gary as Opry members and for many of their fellow comedians on Opry shows to keep ratcheting up the fun factor every night."

Given that they have accepted their invitations, Cho and Mule Deer will represent the first comedians inducted into the Opry in nearly a half-century since Jerry Clower's 1973 induction.

The comedians' induction dates will be announced soon.

Mule Deer is an 83-year-old native of Deadwood, South Dakota, whose trademark upswept coiffure and dry wit have allowed him a six-decade-long comedic and musical career that has impacted the likes of Woody Allen, David Letterman and Steve Martin. He's a live crowd favorite as a regular addition to the Opry's hour-long programming.

Cho -- the Opry's first-ever Asian-American cast member -- has four decades of comedic experience. In a 2021 interview, the native of Knoxville, Tennessee, noted that former Opry General Manager Pete Fisher initially approached him about playing special occasions like the 2012 commemoration of Opry legend Minnie Pearl's 100th birthday. He added that Amy Grant noted that "humor had always been a part of the Opry and that it had been missing [for a while]."

Cho counts friendships with the likes of Opry members Rascal Flatts and Vince Gill, plus history as a tour opener for Brooks & Dunn and Reba McEntire, as highlights of his career history.

Though not delivered under Minnie Pearl's iconic $1.98 straw hat, comedy as told by the likes of Cho and Mule Deer is still vital to country music’s legacy.

These invitations continue a recent cycle of Opry membership additions (Ashley McBryde's induction closed 2022 in December) since Darius Rucker's in January 2021 that rivals a 1964-65 swing of seven inductions that included membership being granted to performers, including Willie Nelson and the previously mentioned Smith.

Let me add a couple of corrections: 

When Ashley McBryde was inducted last month, she was the 231st member in the history of the Opry. So that would make Gary Mule Deer and Henry Cho the 232nd and 233rd members. In addition, it was Lady A, who was invited by Darius Rucker, who joined the Opry's cast in January 2021. Counting Lady A, Gary Mule Deer and Henry Cho will become the 11th and 12th new members since the start of 2021. 

While Gary Mule Deer and Henry Cho are not super-stars, their invitations continue the recent trend of inviting as members those who have supported the show over the years. With over 100 guest appearances each, they certainly qualify. It will be especially nice to have a couple of comedians joining the Opry cast. As mentioned in the Tennessean article, the last comedian to join the cast was Jerry Clower in October 1973. Jerry was an Opry member until passing away in August 1998. 


The other "breaking news" regarding the Grand Ole Opry concerns the upcoming Friday Night Opry, which will include only Grand Ole Opry members. That's right!! It has been a while since there was an Opry show with only Opry members. If my memory is correct, I do believe that the last time was the 5,000 show in 2021. While there are only seven on the schedule, it is a very solid group that will be performing. 

Friday January 13
7:00: Mark Wills, Connie Smith, John Conlee, Terri Clark
Intermission
8:15: Riders In The Sky, Ricky Skaggs, Carly Pearce

Saturday night will feature four Opry members: Hall of Famers Vince Gill and Don Schlitz, along with Mark Wills and the legendary Jeannie Seely. Guesting will be Sawyer Brown, who always brings excitement to the Opry, along with Charlie Worsham, and making is Opry debut, Corey Kent. 

Saturday January 14
7:00: Opry Square Dancers, Mark Wills, Jeannie Seely, Corey Kent, Sawyer Brown
Intermission
8:15: Charlie Worsham, Opry Square Dancers, Don Schlitz, Vince Gill


As mentioned, Corey Kent is making his Grand Ole Opry debut on Saturday night. 

While Corey may be new to many Opry fans, he has been writing and performing for almost 20 years. He has been on stage with Parker McCollum, Corey Johnson and Eli Young Band and considers The Eagles, Keith Richards and the Turnpike Troubadours among those who have influenced his music and style. In March of 2022, he released his smash hit single, "Wild As Her," which hit the #1 spot on Apple Music's Country Chart for ten days and landed on Spotify's U.S. Viral Top 50 Chart (all-genre) at #7 and GLOBAL Viral Top 50 Chart at #36 as the only Country act featured. Since then, it has racked up over 50 million streams in the first 100 days and can be heard on Sirius XM's The Highway, Spotify's Hot Country, Apple Music's Today's Country, and Amazon Music's Country Heat!


Now from 45 years ago, Saturday January 14, 1978: 

1st show
6:00: Jack Greene (host), Jeannie Seely, Charlie Walker, Billy Grammer, Billy Walker
6:30: Bill Monroe (host), Justin Tubb, Wilburn Brothers
6:45: Stonewall Jackson (host), Wilma Lee Cooper, Willis Brothers
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host), Skeeter Davis, Bob Luman, Ray Pillow, Ernie Ashworth
7:30: Roy Acuff (host), Charlie Louvin, David Houston, Jim and Jesse, Crook Brothers, Tennessee Travelers
8:00: Lester Flatt (host), Grandpa Jones, Lonzo and Oscar, Charlie Nixon, Bill Carlisle
8:30: Hank Snow (host), Jimmy C Newman, Bessyl Duhon, The 4 Guys, Fruit Jar Drinkers

2nd show
9:30: Bill Monroe (host), Bob Luman, Jack Greene, Jeannie Seely, Charlie Walker, Charlie Louvin
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host), Wilburn Brothers, Ernie Ashworth, Billy Walker
10:15: Roy Acuff (host), Billy Grammer, Justin Tubb
10:30: Lester Flatt (host), Skeeter Davis, Jimmy C Newman, Willis Brothers
10:45: Grandpa Jones (host), Wilma Lee Cooper, Ray Pillow, Crook Brothers, Tennessee Travelers
11:00: Hank Snow (host), The 4 Guys, Jim and Jesse, Fruit Jar Drinker
11:30: David Houston (host), Lonzo and Oscar, Bill Carlisle

(Jean Shepard, Stu Phillips and Don Williams were scheduled for both shows but canceled, while Kirk McGee canceled on the late show. Stonewall Jackson was scheduled for both shows, but only appeared on the early show). 


Over the years, many country music stars made appearances on the Opry. Some appeared quite often, while others appeared just a few times. One of those was Faith Hill. Faith made her Grand Ole Opry debut in December 1993. She came back again on Saturday January 14, 1995. Here is the running order from that night 28 years ago: 

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Bill Monroe (host): It's Mighty Dark for Me to Travel
Bill Carlisle: Leave That Liar Alone
Bill Monroe: Life's Railway to Heaven

6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame
Jimmy Dickens (host): Family Reunion
Grandpa Jones: Apple Jack
Jimmy Dickens: Life Turned Her That Way

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Dooley
Brother Oswald: John Hardy
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
George Hamilton IV: 'Til I Can Gain Control Again
Ricky Skaggs: Lovin' Only Me
Porter Wagoner: I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name/Big Wind

7:30: Standard Candy
Jack Greene (host): Highway In the Sky
David Ball: I've Got a Thinking Problem/Look What Followed Me Home
Faith Hill: Take Me as I Am/I Can't Do That Anymore
Jack Greene: If God Can Forgive You, So Can I/There Goes My Everything

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Wild Weekend
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours
Jim and Jesse: Then I'll Stop Going for You
Billy Walker: Adam's Side
Opry Square Dance Band and The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Rachel
Bill Anderson: Golden Guitar

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): My Memories of You
Alison Krauss: When You Say Nothing at All/I Can't Get You Off of My Mind
Jimmy C Newman: Cochon De Lait
Mike Snider: Foggy Mountain Chimes/Snuff Dipper
Hank Snow: Just A Faded Pedal from a Beautiful Bouquet

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Tell Her Lies and Feed Her Candy
Stonewall Jackson: Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
Alison Krauss: I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name
Charlie Louvin: Every Time You Leave
Del Reeves: Two Dollars in the Jukebox/A Dime at A Time/Looking at the World Through a Windshield
Porter Wagoner: I've Enjoyed as Much of This as I Can Stand
Collen Walters: Alone with You

10:00: Goody's
Bill Monroe (host): I Would Love to Be Over Yonder
Bill Monroe and Ricky Skaggs: Uncle Pen
Bill Monroe: A Beautiful Life/Bluegrass Breakdown

10:15: Sunbeam/Tennessee Pride
Grandpa Jones (host): Don't Cha Cry Melinda
Jimmy C Newman: Colinda
Grandpa Jones: Tritzem Yodel

10:30: Gruhn Guitar
Bill Anderson (host): Before I Met You
Charlie Walker: Cherokee Maiden
Bill Anderson: Still/Bright Lights & Country Music

10:45: Fairfield Communities
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take an Old Cold Tater
Jim Ed Brown: Lyin' In Love with You
Opry Square Dance Band and The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Lafayette

11:00: Coca Cola
Hank Snow (host): On The Seashores of Old Mexico
Jack Greene: Ever Since My Baby Went Away
Connie Smith: Once A Day
Stu Phillips: Blue Canadian Rockies
The Whites: San Antonio Rose/Keep on the Sunny Side
Hank Snow: Rainbows End

11:30: Cates Pickles
Johnny Russell: Red Necks, Whie Socks & Blue Ribbon Beer
Jim and Jesse: Branded Wherever I Go
John Conlee: I Don't Remember Loving You
Mel McDaniel: Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On/Stand Up
Johnny Russell: Why Me Lord

As was the case many times, when a "bigger" name would appear on the Opry, and the 7:30 segment was televised, the artist would often appear only on the televised portion on the first show and skip the late show. This was true on this particular night with Faith Hill, and with David Ball, who was also guesting. And as you can see, by this period of time, a few of the Opry's members were only scheduled on one of the two shows in an effort to get everyone on. 

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. 









Sunday, January 8, 2023

2022

Another year is in the books, and I know that a lot of the readers, and Grand Ole Opry fans in general, are interested in numbers. With that in mind, here is a short recap and look back at 2022 in regard to the Grand Ole Opry.

The year started with 67 Opry members with five new members added: Lauren Alaina, Jamey Johnson, Charlie McCoy, Don Schlitz and Ashley McBryde. One member, Loretta Lynn, passed away. With 71 members, the Opry is at its highest number of members in many years (and of note, two more have already been invited to become members at the start of 2023, bringing the total to 73). 

There were 212 shows in 2022 spread among every night of the week with the exception of Monday. I do want to note that the total includes the Thursday Opry Country Classic Shows, and the Opry Country Christmas shows, as all of those shows were aired on WSM. What is not included in the count are the shows that the Opry puts on for various convention and corporate events, along with off-site Opry shows that are not aired on WSM. Two examples being the Garth Brooks concert at Nissan Stadium, in which the Opry was the opening act, and the Nashville Grand Prix show, which was conducted and sponsored by the Opry. 

Among the notable dates in 2022, Barbara Mandrell was honored upon her 50th anniversary as an Opry member, and while she didn't perform, she was honored with two shows to celebrate. Ricky Skaggs and Riders In The Sky became 40-year Opry members and Marty Stuart hit year 30. And while no special recognition was mentioned, Stu Phillips reached year 55. 

Special mention also to Jeanne Seely, who not only celebrated her 55th year as an Opry member but was also recognized for making over 5,000 appearances on the Opry, the most by any Opry member. 

There were 21 Opry members who appeared 10 or more times in 2022: 

Jeannie Seely: 87
Riders In The Sky: 79
Connie Smith: 50
Mandy Barnett: 47
John Conlee: 42
Bill Anderson: 37
The Gatlin Brothers: 34
Rhonda Vincent: 34
Dailey & Vincent: 29
Ricky Skaggs: 27
Charlie McCoy: 26
Don Schlitz: 26
Bobby Osborne: 25
Mark Wills: 22
The Isaacs: 21
Mike Snider: 18
Jamey Johnson: 14
Del McCoury Band: 13
Lorrie Morgan: 13
Lauren Alaina: 12
Carrie Underwood: 10

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the group of "active" members who did not appear at all last year: 

Diamond Rio
Alan Jackson
Alison Krauss
Martina McBride
Reba McEntire
Ronnie Milsap
Old Crow Medicine Show
Travis Tritt

There are a number of Opry members who are now retired, or inactive, that I do want to mention: 

Bobby Bare
Patty Loveless
Barbara Mandrell
Jesse McReynolds
Dolly Parton
Stu Phillips
Ray Pillow 
Jeanne Pruett
Ricky Van Shelton
Randy Travis

(Yes, Dolly is on the list. While she is still very much active, she has not been doing any touring and in fact as announced that she will no longer be doing any major concerts. There is still hope that among her limited performances, an Opry visit might be included).

Another name not mentioned is Rascal Flatts, as the group has seemed to have broken up (or at the very least, has taken a hiatus. It should be noted the Rascal Flatts member Gary LeVox has made several appearances as a solo artist. 

The other 31 members not listed fell in between, ranging from Craig Morgan with 9 appearances, down to Luke Combs, Little Big Town, Eddie Montgomery, Brad Paisley, Marty Stuart and Pam Tillis, each of whom only made it to the Opry House a single time. 

I think it is important to note that currently there is no set number of Opry appearances required by the members. My understanding when the various new Opry members are added, there is discussion that takes place as to what the expectations are. 

Over 350 non-members made guest appearances on the show, with 103 of those acts making their Grand Ole Opry debut. The variety of those making Opry debuts ranged from rock and pop acts such as Vince Neil and The Beach Boys, comedians Willian Lee Martin and James Gregory, bluegrass groups Appalachian Road Show and Hogslop String Band, gospel acts We Are Messengers and Tasha Cobbs Leonard, and numerous contestants from TV shows such as The Voice. In other words, a lot of variety. Some of those acts were very good and were asked back, when some were very forgettable and probably one and done. 

The list of those non-members who made 10 or more appearances include Gary Mule Deer, Henry Cho, Maggie Rose, Wendy Moten and Aaron Weber. Right behind that group were Lindsay Ell, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Charlie Worsham and Steven Curtis Chapman. 

It looks like 2023 is going to be another busy year at the Opry as it appears that the recent history of having Opry shows literally every night of the week will continue. Opry Country Classics will be back and I have heard that Opry Country Christmas will also be returning. 

Jeanne Pruett will be celebrating her 50th year as an Opry member, Diamond Rio their 25th and the Opry will ring in year 98 in October. And, if the past couple of years are any indication, we will see more members added to the Opry cast and dozens upon dozens making their Opry debuts. In other words, a very busy year. 

As the Opry gets closer to their 100th anniversary in 2025, my personal opinion is that the Opry continues to be in good hands under the leadership of Dan Rogers and his team. It is not easy putting on all of these shows each week and sometimes it is difficult to fill the lineups. I appreciate the dedication that Dan has and the decisions he has made, specifically in regard to the addition of new members. By my count, 11 new members have been added since the change in leadership, with a couple more already set for 2023. The future looks exciting. 

Again, my thanks to everyone, and I mean everyone, who I have met or communicated with as this journey continues. We may disagree at times, but all of us have one thing in common: we love the Opry and its history. Most importantly, we care. 

Now on to 2023............

Byron 
aka Fayfare




Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Grand Ole Opry 1/6 & 1/7

It has been a couple of years since the Grand Ole Opry has returned to the Ryman Auditorium for a winter run, however this year, for the month of January, the Opry will take up residence in its most famous former home as the Grand Ole Opry House will be undergoing some work that necessitates the Opry moving out for the month. 

When looking at the Opry schedule for January, it will be noticed that for the last two weekends of the month, there will be no Friday Night Opry. The reason? By the time the decision was made to go back downtown for the month, there were already shows booked for the Ryman on those Friday nights, thus the Opry will just have a one show weekend. 

However, that is a few weeks in the future, so for now, let's focus on the shows this weekend. 

The Friday Night Opry will feature four Opry members, three of whom are in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Vince Gill, Connie Smith and Charlie McCoy lead that list, joined by John Conlee. Vince will make it a two-show weekend as he is back on Saturday night, joined by members Jamey Johnson, Jeannie Seely and Hall of Famer Bill Anderson. 

Comedian Gary Mule Deer will be guesting both nights. For the past two years, Gary Mule made more Opry appearances than any other non-member and it would appear that the trend could continue into 2023. With as many times as he has appeared on the Opry, in some cases more times than the majority of the Opry's members, maybe the next move could be to off him Opry membership. 

2022 saw right around 100 artists making their Opry debuts, and this weekend there will be two more as Morgan Myles will be appearing on Friday night while Worth The Wait will be debuting on Saturday night. In the case of Worth The Wait, they were surprised last December with an invite from Opry member Blake Shelton while they were performing at Ole Red in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. No, Blake wasn't there in person, as he appeared via video. Blake coached the trio on The Voice and their debut album was released this past June. 

Adding to the connection of The Voice, Morgan Myles was a finalist in season 22. 

Rounding out the rest of the lineups, on Friday night Maggie Rose will be appearing as will Rory Feek, while on Saturday night, Opry NextStage artist Restless Road is listed. 

Friday January 6
7:00: Connie Smith, Rory Feek, John Conlee, Maggie Rose
Intermission
8:15: Charlie McCoy, Morgan Myles, Gary Mule Deer, Vince Gill

Saturday January 7
7:00: Opry Square Dancers, Jeannie Seely, Restless Road, Worth The Wait, Jamey Johnson
Intermission
8:15: Bill Anderson, Opry Square Dancers, Gary Mule Deer, Vince Gill 

(Opry members highlighted). 

Interesting placement of Gary Mule Deer and Vince Gill both nights. 


Over the past several years, I have highlighted past lineups from shows that took place 50 years ago, Of course, those were the beginning of the final years at the Ryman Auditorium as plans were under way to move the Grand Ole Opry to the new Opry House at Opryland, a move that took place in March 1974. 

For this year, I have decided to move a few years forward, to 1978. By that time, the Opry was settled into the new Grand Ole Opry House and while some artists from the early 70s still made guest appearances on the show, new names were beginning to appear on the Opry lineups, as the new home of the Opry was attracting some new names and country music was moving in a different direction. Even with the new home and new names, the Opry still filled the majority of their lineups with members of the Opry. 

So, going back 45 years, here is the running order from Saturday January 7, 1978: 

1st show
6:00: Vietti
Bill Monroe (host): Panhandle Country
Larry Gatlin: Help Me/The Bitter They Are, The Harder They Fall
Ernie Ashworth: Wichita Woman
Willis Brothers: Boots & Saddle
Del Wood: Are You From Dixie
Jan Howard: Evil on Your Mind
Bill Monroe: Thank God for Kentucky

6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Del Reeves (host): Two Dollars in the Jukebox/A Dime at A Time
Wilma Lee Cooper: Bury Me Beneath the Willow
Del Reeves: Margaritaville

6:45: Rudy's
Ernest Tubb (host): Sometimes I Do
Skeeter Davis: Silver Threads & Golden Needles
Osborne Brothers: Beneath Still Waters
Ernest Tubb: Half A Mind

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Big Wind's A' Comin'
Dottie West: That's All I Wanted to Know
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong with the Way That We're Doing it Now
Jim and Jesse: Freight Train
Hank Locklin: Please Help Me, I'm Falling
Ray Pillow: Texas
Porter Wagoner: Mountain Music/On A Highway Headed South

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jean Shepard: Poor Sweet Baby
Charlie Walker: T For Texas
Stonewall Jackson: A Wound Time Can't Erase
Bill Carlisle: Have a Drink on Me
Crook Brothers: Gray Eagle
Roy Acuff: I Saw the Light

8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt and The Nashville Grass: I Don't Care; I Don't Care
Bob Luman: A Honky-Tonk Woman's Man
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Charlie Louvin: Let's Put Our World Back Together/A Toast to Mama/Love Has to Die All By Itself/I Ain't Gonna Work Tomorrow
Nashville Grass: Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Loud, Loud Music
Stu Phillips: Have I Told You Lately That I Love You/You Win Again/Release Me
Billy Grammer: Birth of the Blues

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Jeannie Seely: Since I Met 'Cha Baby
Lonzo and Oscar: When the Fields in the Valleys Turn Green
The 4 Guys: Freedom Lives in a Country Song
Fruit Jar Drinkers: (?)
Hank Snow: Paper Roses

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Ernest Tubb (host): In the Jailhouse Now
Del Reeves: Lay A Little Lovin' on Me
Larry Gatlin w/Dottie West, Jeannie Seely and Jan Howard: Broken Lady
Jan Howard: Better Off Alone
Willis Brothers: Boots & Saddle
Del Wood: Down Yonder
Ernest Tubb: Waltz Across Texas

10:00: Fender
Bill Monroe (host): Uncle Pen
Wilma Lee Cooper: Where is America Going
Ernie Ashworth: Each Moment Spent with You
Skeeter Davis: I Believe in Music
Hank Locklin: Danny Boy

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting in the Air
Dottie West w/Larry Gatlin and Jan Howard: I'm a Broken Lady
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong with the Way That We're Doing It Now
Jim and Jesse: The Voice of My Darling
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

10:30: Trailblazer
Lester Flatt (host): Great Big Woman & A Little Biddy Bottle of Wine
Jean Shepard: If You're Got the Money, I've Got the Time
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Ray Pillow: The Dreams of a Dreamer
Charlie Louvin: Store Up Love
Tater Tate: Katy Hill

10:45: Beech-Nut
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol' Slewfoot
Charlie Walker: T For Texas
Stonewall Jackson: Washed Me Hands in Muddy Water
The 4 Guys: When Will I Be Loved
Crook Brothers: Eighth of January
Porter Wagoner: Mountain Music

11:00: Coca Cola
Hank Snow (host): Breakfast with the Blues
Bob Luman: A Satisfied Mind
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Joe Edwards: Old Joe Clark
Billy Grammer: Detroit City
Kirk McGee: While I'm Moving
Hank Snow: Brand On My Heart

11:30: Elm Hill
Jack Greene (host): Walking on New Grass
Jeannie Seely: Who Needs You
Lonzo and Oscar: Family Bible
Stu Phillips: She Thinks I Still Care
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Jack Greene: Statue of a Fool

What a night!! Obviously with all that talent, the Opry ran way over by 45 minutes that night. And they did have a cancelation as the Wilburn Brothers were also scheduled to appear that night.


Finally, January 7 is an important date in the history of the Grand Ole Opry as it was on that date in 1950 that the legendary Hank Snow made not only his Opry debut but was also made a member of the Grand Ole Opry. I post this each year, so I hope no one minds: 

For most of his career, prior to 1950, Hank Snow struggled. He made a name for himself in Canada but had trouble establishing a career in the states. He traveled around to various locations, including Wheeling, California, and eventually Dallas, Texas, where he had his greatest success. It was along that journey that he met Ernest Tubb. Hank had been trying to connect with Ernest for some time, as both had a love for the music of Jimmie Rodgers. Prior to that first meeting in Texas, Hank and Ernest had exchanged letters. Upon that initial meeting, Ernest told Hank, "It's all happening in Nashville. Nashville is the home of country music. If you want to advance your career, you should be there. I promise you I'll do my best to get you on the Opry, but there's one problem. The Opry will not sign any new artist unless the artist has a hit record. However, I'm on my way to the West Coast, and I've taken a leave of absence from the Opry for a few months. Maybe they will accept you as a stand-in for me while I'm away."

Nothing happened at that point, but Ernest did try. He talked to Jim Denny, manager of the Opry, and to Jack Stapp, the program director at WSM, and both told Ernest that they couldn't handle a new member at that time. So, Hank continued to stay in the Dallas area, performing at clubs when the opportunity came. But he kept in contact with Ernest, hoping that his dream of going to Nashville and being on the Opry could come true. 

Finally, in late 1949, he got the call from Ernest, who told Hank, "I had a talk with Mr. Denny yesterday, and he told me to bring you in to see him. He thinks he'll be able to place you on the Opry, so come to Nashville right away if at all possible." When Hank got to Nashville, he met with Mr. Denny, who didn't say anything about a tryout and that he wanted Hank to start on the Opry on January 7, 1950. Hank also wrote that he would be paid $75 a week. In getting prepared for his debut on the Opry, Hank moved his family to Nashville. Since Hank did not have a band, Ernest allowed Hank to use his Texas Troubadours for his first appearance on the Opry. 

Here is the posted running order from that night 73 years ago, Saturday January 7, 1950: 

7:30: American Ace Coffee
Roy Acuff (host): It's Alright Now
Hal Smith: Wake Up Susan
Dot & Smokey: Blue Eyes Crying in The Rain
Jimmy Riddle: Steamboat Bill
Roy Acuff: The Day They Laid Mary Away
Uncle Dave Macon & Dorris: Tennessee Farmer
Jug Band: Missouri
Roy Acuff: The Can Only Fill One Grave
Joe Zinkas: Tiger Rag
Dot & Smokey: Sleepy Rio Grande
Rachel & Oswald: Curly Headed Baby

8:00: Purina
Cowboy Copas (host): Crazy Over You
Lew Childre: I Love My Little Rooster
Bill Monroe: Molly and Ten Brooks
Sam, Kirk & Arthur: Black Mountain Rag
Cowboy Copas: One Step More
Bob Eaton: Second Hand Heart
Blue Grass Quartet: He'll Set Your Fields on Fire
Crook Brothers: Billy in The Low Ground
Cowboy Copas: Filipino Baby
Square Dance: Leather Britches

8:30: Royal Flour
Ernest Tubb (host): Biting My Fingernails
Martha White: If I Could Learn To Yodel
Jimmy Dickens: Lonesome Wind Blues
Hank Williams: Dear John
Possum Hunters: Black Berry Blossom
Ernest Tubb: I Love You Because
Jimmy Dickens: Country Boy
Jimmy Self: Picking Them Up & Putting Them Down
Hank Williams: I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
Breakdown: Old Joe Clark

9:00: Royal Crown
Jimmy Riddle: Limehouse Blues
Roy Acuff (host): Blue Eyes Crying in The Rain
Lonzo & Oscar: Hole in the Bottom of the Sea
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Dusty Miller
Jamup & Honey: Jokes
Hank Snow: To Be Selected
Jug Band: Shame On You
Roy Acuff: Hold To God's Unchanging Hand
Hank Snow: To Be Selected
Rachel & Oswald: Take Me Back to Tennessee
Hal Smith: Done Gone

9:30: Prince Albert
Red Foley (host): Tennessee Saturday Night
Tennessee Ernie: Anticipation Blues
Wally Fowler: You Ain't Got Faith Til You Got Religion
Red Foley: Just a Closer Walk with Thee
Old Hickory Quartet: Oh Miss Hannah
Tennessee Ernie: Cry of the Wild Goose
Rod Brasfield: Jokes
Minnie Pearl: Jokes
Red Foley: Gotta Have My Baby Back
Square Dance: Wake Up Susan

10:00: Wallrite
Bill Monroe (host): Shady Grove
Bill & Mack: I'm Going Back to Old Kentucky
Uncle Dave & Dorris: Over the Mountain
Blue Grass Quartet: Just a Little Talk with Jesus
Bill Monroe: Blue Grass Special

10:15: Warren Paint & Color Co.
Lew Childre: Riding on the Elevated
Hank Williams: Long Gone Daddy
String Beans: Hot Corn, Cold Corn
Hank Williams: Lost Highway
Fiddle Tune: Old Joe Clark

10:30: Darimix
Roy Acuff (host): Pale Horse and His Rider
Jimmy Riddle: To Be Selected
Roy Acuff: Poem
Gang: Waiting for My Call to Glory
Hal: Bill Cheatham

10:45: Dr. Le Gear
Cowboy Copas (host): Road of Broken Hearts
Lonzo & Oscar: Sheepskin Corn
Cowboy Copas: Tennessee Waltz
Lazy Jim Day: Singing the News
Cowboy Copas: Ain't Nobody Gonna Miss Me

11:00: To Be Selected
Ernest Tubb (host): Give Me a Hundred Reasons
Billy Byrd: Steel Guitar
Jimmy Dickens: Sleeping At the Foot of the Bed
Wally Fowler: Lead Me to That Rock
Ernest Tubb: Unfaithful One
Gully Jumpers: Forked Deer
Jimmy Dickens: My Hearts Bouquet
Wally Fowler: Lead Me Gently Home Father
Ernest Tubb: That Wild and Wicked Look in Your Eyes
Mac McGarr: Katy Hill

11:30: Jefferson Island Salt
Sam, Kirk & Arthur: Listen to the Mockingbird
Hank Snow: To Be Selected
Crook Brothers: Sally Goodin
Sam, Kirk & Arthur: Love Letters in the Sand
Hank Snow: To Be Selected

11:45: Coyne Electric Co.
Hank Williams (host): Mansion on the Hill
Jimmy Self: I Miss You So Much
Fruit Jar Drinkers: My Little Girl
Hank Williams: Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Ravins Gap

In his autobiography, Hank wrote about that night: 

I remember that night so well. I put on my beautiful custom-made gold suit, and I did something that I have done very few times since. I wore my big white Stetson hat. Back then hats were not so important to country singers. Most artists on the Opry didn't wear them. Only a few did, like Ernest Tubb. He was known for his white Stetson. 

Believe me, I say this in all honesty: I said many prayers during the few weeks before my Opry debut that I would be a success. God has His plan worked out for all of us, even a little weakling from Nova Scotia, Canada. 

Ernest introduced me, "From up Canada way, here's the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, the Singing Ranger, Hank Snow!" My whole body was trembling as I went out on that stage, and I sang the song that had done so much for me in Dallas, "Brand on My Heart." When I finished, I got only mild applause, not anything near what I was getting in Dallas or back in Canada. I felt sort of embarrassed, and I couldn't leave the stage fast enough. 

Hank wrote that when he left the Opry that night with his wife Min, he told her he was never going back to the Opry and that he would go back to Canada, where he was appreciated and known. He wrote that Min set him straight, telling him, "Now you can't expect everything to happen in just one night. People will become more familiar with you as time goes on. You're lucky you've been given this chance." 

Hank wrote that he kept going back and the response was the same. He was actually in danger of being fired from the Opry, but then "I'm Moving On" came along and the rest became history. Hank would become one of the pillars of the Grand Ole Opry, continuing as a member nearly 50 years, settling into hosting the 8:30 and 11:00 segments each week. 

I find it interesting that Hank wrote that he was introduced by Ernest Tubb that night, but based on the program, he was actually on Roy Acuff's segment, nor was his second spot on Ernest's late segment. Hank was very clear about his first night at the Opry, so perhaps Ernest came out and introduced Hank, or a change in the program? Sadly, there really aren't any individuals left living from that night at the Opry who could fill in the blanks. 

One final note from that night: You might have noticed the name of Tennessee Ernie (Ford) listed on the Prince Albert nationally broadcast portion of the Opry hosted by Red Foley. Like Hank Snow, this was Tennessee Ernie's debut on the Grand Ole Opry. Unlike Hank, Ernie Ford was already an established star, thus he was featured on the national broadcast that night. While Tennessee Ernie never became an Opry member, he had an open invitation to appear on the Opry whenever he was in town. 


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. 




Sunday, January 1, 2023

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 2023. My hope for everyone is that 2023 will be a year of good health and times for all, including those at the Grand Ole Opry. In keeping with tradition, here are the Opry highlights for the month of January: 

January 29, 1927: George Wilkerson made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Later that same year, he would introduce his string band, The Fruit Jar Drinkers, to the Opry audience. The Fruit Jar Drinkers, in one form or another, would remain a part of the Opry until the late 1980s. 

January 14, 1929: The late Billy Walker was born in Ralls, Texas. Known as the "Tall Texan," Billy joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry in 1960 and continued as a very active member of the Opry until his death in 2006 while returning to Nashville after performing a road date in Alabama. 

January 19, 1933: Grand Ole Opry member Stu Phillips was born. Stu, who is one of a select group of Opry members born in Canada, is now retired and at the age of 90 seems to be doing well. 

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 1, 1938: Texas Ruby made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry. She performed that night with her future husband, Curly Fox. 

January 7, 1939: While there is some debate on this, and it is open to discussion, one source has this date as the first appearance of Brother Oswald performing with Roy Acuff on the Opry. This is also the date that the comedy duo of Jamup & Honey made their debut on the Opry. 

January 14, 1939: The Dixieliners made their final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Consisting of early WSM Barn Dance stars Arthur Smith, along with Sam & Kirk McGee, they made their debut in 1932. While Th Dixieliners would disappear, those who made up the group would continue on. 

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 and would continue as an Opry member until his death.

January 19, 1946: Grand Ole Opry member Dolly Parton, who has been an Opry member for over 50 years, was born Sevier County, Tennessee. Dolly at 77? Hard to believe. In my opinion, and the opinion of others, Dolly is the most beloved living country music artist. And let's not forget that in 2022 she was elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 

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 9, 1951: Brenda Gail Webb, known professionally as Crystal Gayle, was born. Crystal joined the Opry cast in January 2017, and it has been wonderful to have her as part of the Opry's cast. 

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. As a resident of Canton, I can tell you that the auditorium where the show was to take place is still standing and in use today.

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. While he would be missed in Nashville, Red did well on the Ozark Jubilee. 

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 1, 1955: Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs moved to Nashville, where they began appearing on WSM Radio and Television, along with regular appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. 

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, a membership that he would hold until passing away in the fall of 2007. 

January 4, 1957: Grand Ole Opry member Patty Loveless was born in Pikeville, Kentucky. Patty hasn't been around the Opry much in recent years, but when she is it is always a treat. Patty is now basically retired but hopefully she will have time for an Opry appearance or two. 

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 28, 1961: Dottie West made her debut as a guest on the Grand Ole Opry. Over the next several years, Dottie would make several guest appearances, which would eventually lead to an invitation to become an Opry member.

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. Norma Jean left Porter's show a few years later and would remain a member of the Opry until August 1969. 

January 8, 1966: Grand Ole Opry member Sonny James appeared on the Opry for the final time as an Opry member. Sonny had joined the cast in October 1962. Like others, he just felt it was time to move on and make more money on a Saturday night. 

January 1, 1967: Former Grand Ole Opry member Moon Mullican passed away from a heart attack at his Texas home. He was known as the "King of the Hillbilly Piano Players." He had been a part of the Opry during the early 1950s. 

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. (Just to clarify, DeFord Bailey was a noted harmonica player and not a solo singer).

January 21, 1967: Over the years, non-country acts have appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and on this date, it was Eddie Albert who appeared. Eddie, of course, not only was a fine actor, but he also starred in the CBS show "Green Acres."

January 4, 1969: Dolly Parton became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Dolly's 54th 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. While January 4 is her induction date, the first Saturday in which Dolly appeared on the Opry as a member was actually the following Saturday, January 11. 

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. After joining the Opry in 1971, he left in March 1975, and then rejoined in 1980. Sadly, Tom T. passed away in 2021 after a long period of inactivity. 

January 16, 1971: After moving away from Nashville for several years, George Hamilton IV returned to the show. It was his first Opry show in over a year.

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

January 20, 1973: For the first 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 and did several numbers that management had asked him not to do. 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. While Opry management was not pleased with his initial appearance, Jerry Lee did appear on the Opry at least one more time, in August 1995. 

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 4, 1975: Hank Snow was honored upon his 25th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. 

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 his 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 30, 1982: Wilma Lee Cooper was recognized upon her 25th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole 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. Recently, Mike has been away from the Opry more often than not, but it is always a treat when Mike appears. 

January 19, 1985: While other females had stepped in on an emergency basis to "MC" a segment of the Grand Ole Opry, Jeannie Seely became the first female to actually host an Opry segment. It had been a long time coming as Jeannie was always expressing her desire to Hal Durham that females should be allowed to host segments on the show. Jeannie opened the door for many others. 

January 11, 1986: Mel McDaniel became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Always popular, 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, thus the November taping date is considered Reba's actual Opry induction date. This will be Reba's 37th 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 14, 1969: Keith Whitley, who was recently elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, made his final appearance on the Opry. Keith was never an Opry member, but as Lorrie Morgan confirmed, he as in the process of being invited to become a member, an invitation that was scheduled to be given just weeks later. 

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. Also appearing with Hank that night was future (or former) Opry member Mel Tillis.

January 10, 1991: Clint Black became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. For Clint, this will be his 32nd year as an Opry member. While Clint has never made a whole lot of Opry appearances, it was nice to see him back from a couple for a few shows over the past couple of years. 

January 19, 1991: CBS-TV hosts "The Grand Ole Opry 65th Anniversary Celebration: The New Tradition." The special featured Grand Ole Opry members Roy Acuff, Clint Black, Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson, Ricky Skaggs, Patty Loveless, Vince Gill and several others.

January 25, 1992: Introduced by Roy Acuff, Emmylou Harris became the Opry's newest member. This will be Emmylou's 31st anniversary as a member of the Opry. Sadly, Emmylou rarely appears on the Opry but when she does it is always a treat. 

January 22, 1994: Hal Ketchum became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Once a pretty regular performer on the show, Hal was forced to retire due to his declining health. Hal Ketchum passed away in November 2021

January 15, 1995: Vic Willis died in a car accident in Nashville. Vic was a long-time member of the Grand Ole Opry, first with his brothers as the Oklahoma Wranglers, later named the Willis Brothers, and later headlining his own group, the Vic Willis Trio. Vic had last appeared on the Friday Night Opry, January 6. 

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 13, 1996: Having joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry back in November, during the taping of the 70th anniversary special, Martina McBride made her first appearance as an official member of the Grand Ole Opry.

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. That night, in tribute to Roy Acuff, who brought Boxcar to the Opry, Boxcar sang "Wabash Cannonball" and "The Great Speckled Bird." 

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 made has made it a point of returning to the Ryman each year. 

January 23, 1999: Grand Ole Opry member Brother Oswald made his final Saturday night Grand Ole Opry appearance. His final Opry show would be a month later on the Friday Night Opry. Due to declining health, Oswald was forced to retire from performing.

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. Also appearing on the show that night were Opry members Reba McEntire and Loretta Lynn. 

January 13, 2001: Future Grand Ole Opry members Old Crow Medicine Show made their debut on the Opry stage. Keeping the string band music alive, Old Crow have been wonderful Opry members. 

January 8, 2002: George Jones, BR549's Chuck Mead, Billy Walker and songwriters Dennis Morgan, Shawn Camp and Jack Clement, along with at least 100 other demonstrators, protested at the offices of WSM radio as rumors surfaced that the station was going to change its format from country music to sports. Several weeks later, WSM executives announced that the station would continue the current format of country music, featuring the Grand Ole Opry. Among those at the press conference were Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith and Billy Walker. 

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 was 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 28, 2006: Longtime Grand Ole Opry sponsor Standard Candy, the makers of Goo Goo, sponsored an Opry segment for the final time. Standard Candy became an Opry sponsor in September 1967. Over the years, a number of the Opry's announcers would sing that theme song, "Go get a Goo Goo, it's Good." 

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. In the first several years after the settlement, Stonewall did see an increase in his Opry appearances. Stonewall was an Opry member for just over 60 years. Sadly, he passed away this past year. 

January 19, 2008: Charlie Daniels became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. 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. Sadly, Charlie passed away in 2020. 

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.

January 21, 2015: The Grand Ole Opry House is listed as a pending addition to the National Register of Historic Places. The designation would become official a month later. 

January 2, 2016: Grand Ole Opry member Brad Paisley made a surprise appearance on the Grand Ole Opry to honor Little Jimmy Dickens on the one-year anniversary of Tater's death. Paisley turns in a medley that includes "Country Boy," "Out Behind The Barn," "May The Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" and "Mountain Dew."

January 9, 2017: Grand Ole Opry Vice President and General Manger Pete Fisher announced that he was resigning his position to move to California and head up the Academy of Country Music. Pete came to the Opry in June 1999 and had been in charge of the Opry for over 17 years. His final Opry show was on January 20.

January 21, 2017: Crystal Gayle became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Crystal has been asked several months previously by Carrie Underwood to join the cast. On the night of her induction, her sister and fellow Opry member Loretta Lynn handed the official induction. This was also the last night in which Loretta appeared on the Opry. 

January 11, 2019: Mark Wills was inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Mark, who had been a guest on the Opry hundreds of times, was surprised during a December appearance by Vince Gill, who formally invited Mark to become a member.

January 1, 2020: Ryman Hospitality launched a new TV network, Circle, with 16 original shows including "Opry Live," which was advertised as featuring pre-recorded performances from the Grand Ole Opry. 

January 10, 2020: Grand Ole Opry member Joe Diffie made his final appearance on the Opry. Joe, who joined the cast in November 1993, passed away in 2020 from Covid.

January 17, 2020: Gene Watson was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Vince Gill did the honors of surprising Gene with the invitation, which was long overdue. 

January 24, 2020: Grand Ole Opry member Charley Pride made his final appearance on the Opry. He appeared that night on the Friday night show. Charley, who joined the Opry's cast in May 1993 passed away in December 2021, another of those who passed away from Covid. 

January 21, 2021: Lady A was announced as the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry. Darius Rucker surprised the group with the invite during the taping of the Opry's 95th anniversary television special. Sad to say, their Opry appearances since joining have been very, very few. 

There you have it for this month. Enjoy!!