Posts from the ‘Grand Ole Opry’ Category

FGF-A Crow To Pick

I know it’s Friday and that whole “Feel Good” thing but I have got to answer my pal Murrey who called and left a message wanting some commentary on the brilliant move by those Corporate Tools/Suits/Pinheads/Weasels/Or Whatever Favorite Adjective You Might Have That Would Insult Somebody, over WSM’s decision to “relieve” Keith Bilbrey from his duties from their station AND from his gig as the Opry announcer-AFTER 34 YEARS.

When Keith’s wife, Emy Jo emailed me the other night about the news, I thought I was seeing things. It is wrong on so many levels.

I’m not married to my First and Second Husband anymore so I don’t guess it will hurt him for me to publicly say right here and right now …Hey YOU! Yeah you spineless, ballless, butthead at WSM who decided that Keith’s services were no longer needed….YOU SUCK.

So in honor of the Honorable Mr. Bilbrey…

And since I missed last week’s FGF….this too.

If you get the urge to let Said Buttheads at Gaylord know of your displeasure with their decision, have at it… General Manager

( Oper. Manager


Hank Locklin

Country Music has lost a dandy with the passing of Hank Locklin.  He’s one of the few from that era and on that level, it is sad, but, my gosh….91 years of living and up until fairly recently, Hank was active.  What a funny little man who sang some classics…..Please Help Me I’m Falling, Send Me The Pillow are the biggies.

Hank and the Biffer went all the way back to Houston days. 

I have many memories of Hank but my FAVORITE one is this one right here.


This was at Carl Smith’s Medallion Ceremony when he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2004.  I was TRYING to take a picture of Carl and Goldie, their son Dean, his wife Tammy, and their daughters Lori Lynn and Carlene.  Hank happened to just wander up and got in the middle of it like he was supposed to and it was hilarious.   Like Hank was standing in for Carl, Jr. or something.  Har.  Good times.

Here’s a little clip of Hank singing his signature song…..ah and my beloved T. Tommy Cutrer introducing him….I swear, I’m so glad I was able to hang around all these people.  Lotta love to Hank’s family, ‘specially his son Adam who is a good feller.

Charlie Walker

Back in the early 70’s. the Collie’s went to visit the Charlie Walker’s at their home in Hendersonville.  My sister and I were little girls and we were standing at the top of the stairs, fighting over a doll when suddenly, Sandra sailed down the big ol’ staircase, rendering her unconscious momentarily.  (I think.)

Every SINGLE time I saw Charlie Walker for the rest of his life, be it at the Opry or the last time I saw him a year ago Easter at the Springhouse at the Brunch (Charlie was a big golfer) he would ask me “Now, were you the one that fell down my stairs?”  Heh. Nope. Still wasn’t me, Cholly.

Charlie’s passing today in Hendersonville is quite a bittersweet one.  (Here she goes…her Dad and Charlie) Yep…Dad and Charlie went all the way back to their very beginnings in radio in San Antonio, Texas.  In fact, most of my family in San Antonio knew Charlie and some of his older children (the man was fruitful and multiplied, folks.  To the tune of 10 kids, ranging in age now from upper 50’s to young adult. One of his girls was a professional basketball player and I believe, was, and may still be, a commentator for the WNBA).  Charlie and Biff were born the same week, actually, and now that Charlie’s gone, there’s only one or two of his contemporaries left, meaning the guys that started in radio around about the same time and were good, good buddies til Dad died in 1992.   T. Tommy’s gone…Joe Allison, Tom Perryman is still alive and kicking and on the air in Tyler, Texas. 

Charlie was a radio man, but, he was the voice behind one of my favorite hardcore, country records ever…this one right here. I wonder how many times in my life I saw Charlie Walker go on the Opry stage and sing this Harlan Howard gem? More times than I can count.

Bobby Lord

Hated to hear this morning that Bobby Lord has passed away.

Bobby has pretty much been unseen around Nashville in recent years. He retired to his native Florida the year I was born. He hosted a syndicated television show in the 60’s and was also a host on TNN’s “Celebrity Outdoors” in the 80’s.
Cool clip here that features Roy Acuff.

Kennedy Center Honors

The Kennedy Center Honors thing tonight was absolutely fabulous. Earl Scruggs dashing new look, plus, he and Randy doing a little bit of a soft shoe in honor of Steve Martin was just the shizz. Loved it.

The tribute to Brian Wilson….like buttah. The boys choir at the end singing “Love and Mercy” with the beach balls floating about…whoever thought of that deserves a raise.

I love Steve Carell. I think I have a crush on him and Randy Scruggs. And Darius Rucker. And Steve Martin.

Speaking of Scruggs Love, I rented a dvd off Netflix last week. It’s a documentary from 1972 that aired on PBS on Earl. It has clips of him, Randy, Gary, and Steve playing with Doc Watson, Joan Baez, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, an Opry performance….it’s some kinda wonderful.

You know, one of me and Mr. Smiff’s first dates was at the Scruggs house. June of 1989…Glen Duncan (who plays fiddle in this Letterman clip and played in our wedding that December) was there…Charlie Cushman….Alison Brown…some Japanese guys…and there I was, sitting with Louise and meeting my future mother in law, brother in law, sister in law and nephew for sorta kinda the first time. It wasn’t really the first time I met them, but, under those circumstances, it was. Pretty beezar. There is video somewhere of that little pickin’ soiree. Good times.

Here’s the guest list from the White House reception after the Kennedy Center tho’down.

Good Ness

sharon-and-gov.jpgWho is that rather hot young thing with that elderly feller?  Why…that’s your Sista and Governor Jimmie Davis.  There I sat…next to the man who wrote “You Are My Sunshine” AND was Governor of the Gret Stet of Louisiana. 

Do take note of how black my hair was. If you look closely, you’ll see a blonde line on the side.  That was back when I was living on the Edge you know.  My hair was as black  as my outfit.  This picture was taken about a week or so before I went out on my first date with Mr. Smiff in June of 1989 backstage at the Opry.

Unbelievable that I ever was that young and reminds me of lots of famous people I’ve run across and not even bothered to really ponder it.  I pondered this one, I think. 

Squeezin’ No More

His real name was Dick Wilson and he had a rather long, busy career in Hollywood in television and movies.  We all knew him best as Mr. Whipple. 33874119.jpg  Dick Wilson died yesterday at the ripe old age of 91.

There have been lots of catch phrases through the years, thanks to television, but, have any other slogans hung around as long as “Don’t Squeeze My Charmin?”  Even Charlie Walker had a hit record about it.

A Satisfied Mind

“I can’t imagine a world without Porter Wagoner.” 

 Mr. Smiff said that about three times during the time before and after the funeral service for the legendary Wagonmaster today.  I got to thinking that that was true for him, me and so many others of our generation.  For so many of us, Porter was the first face we can recollect of seeing country music on tv as small children.  Porter’s tv show started the same year Mr. Smiff was born.  He remembers black and white Porter while some of my earliest memories of Porter were bright and sparkly. Vince Gill shared the same sentiment before he, Patty Loveless and Ricky Skaggs did their now classic Go Rest High.  (That song has become “The Funeral Song” for country music people.  I’ve heard Vince sing that thing at probably 10-12 funerals)

Then, Mr. S. spoke of all the years he’s been playing on the Grand Ole Opry…since 1978, he has been playing there with different people. Porter was always there.   I remember through those same years, as a kid drinking Opry Juice that Miss Rosa would put in the blue and white Opryland cups and running around backstage, which I like to refer to as Disco Porter, when he and some of the Opry Band members got perms.  Heh.  Even Mr. S. had one. (Remind me to scan that picture and put here. It’s classic hilarity.) He also spoke of being introduced by him on the Opry stage many times with the Grascals and even being scolded by him for going too long.

After Roy Acuff died in 1992, Porter stepped in as the Grand Poobah of the Opry. That’s my title…he was kinda the Big Daddy of the Opry.  He had his own dressing room and sorta held court. I guess I always thought Porter would be around a lot longer.  It is hard to imagine the Grand Ole Opry and the world without Porter.

I will never go into Hot Nails in Hendersonville again without the picture in my mind of going in there 2 years ago on the morning of the IBMA Awards.  Nobody else was in there except me and I noticed this man in the pedicure chair.  He had on a baseball hat, flannel shirt, jeans rolled up to his knees.  My first thought was “There’s a farmer getting a pedicure.”  That was no farmer, but, instead the Thin Man From West Plains.

My memories of being in the same place Porter Wagoner was are so many. I’ve seen happy Porter, cantankerous Porter, Charming Porter, Elder Statesman Porter, Porter with the All Girl Band and of course Disco Porter …Underneath the rhinestones  was indeed a fairly complex 6fcd7bdf-80f3-4a0f-b9d8-8c29b3ddba9c.jpgindividual.  He was married to the same woman for something like 40 years, however, they were separated for something like 20 years before they finally divorced in the 80’s.  He had many relationships with women of various ages.  I think his first wife was older than he and he romanced much younger women in later years.

I’ve heard of various “disagreements” he had with various people.  Funny how lots of those people who disagreed with Porter were there today at the Opry House to pay their respects.  It was an impressive crowd.  I’m not good at guessing crowd numbers. 

The music was fantastic. Marty Stuart, Ricky, Sharon, Cheryl, Buck, Vince, Patty, etc.  They all did a great job, but, I was most touched by Danny Davis, who has been a member of Porter’s band for 19 years, as he sang, at the request of the family, Rank Stranger. That was not easy for him to do, but, he did it beautifully. A great tribute to his bossman.

The other song that moved me tremendously was Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys, sang a song written by Porter (I remember a recording of Dolly doing that song years ago in the 70’s). Duane told of how Porter gave that to him on a tape one time and said that that song summed up how he felt about God and his life. Duane was sans Oak Ridge Boys (although Richard Sterban was there) and had his family sing with him and I tell you what….he tore it up.  Duane can sing with the best of them, make no mistake.  It was very sweet.

We walked behind Dan Miller and he sat across from us.   Dan shares some nice thoughts about Porter here.  I will confess right here, if I would’ve gurmed anybody there today (Garth, Dolly, George, Martina, any of them) I’d have gurmed Dan Miller. I’ve had a crush on him since I was a little tyke. 

I wasn’t sure if Dolly would be there or not because I know she has a strong disdain for funerals and does not go to many. She sat on the front row with Don Warden, who is her manager and who played steel for the Wagonmasters for many a year. She led the Opry members in I Saw The Light at the end and threw in some of her classic humor (no doubt to keep from crying) to give us all some relief.

Mr. S. leaned over during the Opry Choir and said “Is that George?” All I saw was the top of his hair.  You can’t miss the top of George Jones’ hair.  It’s perfectly coiffed. He looked really good.

When the service was over, I ran into Norma Jean as in “Pretty Miss”, who preceded Dolly as the “Girl Singer” (that’s what they called them in those days) in Porter’s band.  I haven’t seen her in a long time and she’s still as pretty as ever.

The Carol Lee Singers sang a number and I could not help but remember Doyle Wilburn’s funeral 25 years ago this last month.  I remember as vividly as it were yesterday, Carol Lee, Norah Lee, Dennis and Herman singing so beautifully at that service and thinking of how many more funerals there have been since.  Dennis, Norah Lee and Carol Lee look EXACTLY the same today as they did then.   You start naming people and so many of them are gone….Ernest, Bill, All of the Carter Girls, Cash, Skeeter, Teddy, Dottie, Tammy…  Some of them long gone.  I forget my dad has been dead for almost 16 years. That generation is slowly fading out.

Dr. Jerry Sutton, who is under tremendous stress and pressure from his congregation as we speak, did a lovely job.  I hate going to stuff like that where you know the preacher didn’t know the deceased.  This was not the case here.

Another cool aspect to the whole event was that it was open to the public and the public did come.  Porter was such a hands on kinda guy with the fans, it would’ve not been 11-01-07_1230.jpgappropriate to not open it up like that.

When I think of what I loved to hear Porter sing best? You’re gonna laugh….

“He’s big around the middle and he’s broad across the rump,

Running 90 miles an hour taking 30 feet to jump

Ain’t never been caught he ain’t never been treed

Some folks say he looks a lot like me”

Thanks, Porter.

Happy Birthday WSM (a little late)

img_1734.jpgI’ve sorta become a collector of photos of the WSM Tower.  I’ve written before about how much and why I love pictures of that tower. I’m crazy about it.

A few weeks back, Mr. Smiff and some of Them were guests on WSM Radio the day they were celebrating the 82nd birthday of the historic radio station.  Because Mr. Smiff is getting elderly or because he needs to borrow some of my medicine, he did not mention to me until he was literally on his way to do this interview, that the interview was on the grounds of the WSM tower, a stones throw from my childhood home.  Had he not won Entertainer of the Year the night before, I mighta got a little testy with him.  I’ve never been on the actual grounds of where the tower sits. 

Anyway, my new pal Emy Jo Bellenfant-Bilbrey (Mrs. Keith) said I could show you some pictures she took from that event that day. I’ll show the pictures while I sulk at the same img_1735.jpgtime.  Even #2 got to go.  He was way more impressed with riding in Jamie’s red convertible than anything else.

I LOVE this picture of George Hamilton IV.  One of these days, I want a picture of me img_1747.jpglike this. 

Oh…Emy Jo is a Williamson County native and has a super cool antique store.  She’s having an Open House this weekend.  Go read about it here.

There To Greet Me Is My Mama and Papa….

opry0705porterwagoner.jpg I look at this picture I took in the summer of 2005 and all I hear in my head is…”Hon’…you have to turn the thing on to take a picture.”  (Hence, the laughter from the Grascals.)

The Cold, Hard Facts of Life

Ironic that I wrote about Tater Tate and Brent Burkett dying from Lung Cancer the other day and mentioning that Porter was hospitalized when come to find out today that he is also fighting lung cancer.

And he’s another one of those that I can see, plain as day on their way to the Opry stage, with the ever-present ciggarette in their fingers.  Dang. 

Porter is still vital to country music, as you can <a href=”“>see on this clip from his recent appearance on David Letterman and from his new cd.

Keep praying for Porter.

Grand Ole Opry Sorta Stuff

I hear that  Porter Wagoner, is in the hospital.  I don’t know why or what, but, say a porterwagoner.jpgprayer for the Wagonmaster, would ya?

I meant to mention last week, the passing of Brent Burkett, who was part of The Fabulous Four Guys that were featured on the Opry for many years.  These guys, I think were the only act to ever become members of the Opry without the benefit of a record deal/hit record.  It’s a shame they never had a major record deal because I watched them perform many times from the side of the Opry stage from the time I was about #2’s age on up til I was grown…those guys ALWAYS lit up the crowd and got them guysmembers2_2_ssss-313x275.jpggoing.  Always.  They were great singers and entertainers, always dressed impeccably…I never saw them not wake up a sleeping Opry audience.  (I’ve seen many sleeping Opry audiences, too.) Interesting trivia about Brent is that he hailed from the same hometown as Dean Martin…Steubenville, OH. I don’t remember ever knowing that little tidbit.

And somebody else I want to mention, who died a couple days ago is Clarence “Tater” Tate.  Tater was extremely well known and revered in the Bluegrass world.  He was a tatertate.jpgmember of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys as a fiddler and a bass player.  He worked with all kinds of people through the years and even played on Patty Loveless’ most wonderful Mountain Soul album.   One artist he worked for was Wilma Lee Cooper.  He worked with a teenaged Mr. Smiff in those days.  Mr. Smiff has a hilarious imitation of Tater.  He will be missed.

Thing about Tater and Brent though…one of the things I remember about both these guys is I never saw either of them without a cigarette, except when they were onstage.  I can remember as a kid, all the way up til I had my own kids,  seeing Brent at the side of the Opry stage, looking at the show schedule, in his fancy suits and he seemed huge to me when I was a kid, but always had that cigarette between his fingers.  I believe both men died of lung cancer.