Since 1925, the “Grand Ole Opry” has been one of the most highly regarded destinations for country music. The show is currently taped at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, but it will head back to its original home inside the Ryman Auditorium during the winter. Getting inducted is one of the crowning achievements for any musician. A plethora of musical acts are honorary members, including the Dixie Chicks, Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, and Carrie Underwood. Read on as we take a look at those who were lucky to get into the “Grand Ole Opry” in the 1980s, and we also look at a few tidbits about the show.
Here are the musicians who were talented and lucky enough to get into the “Grand Ole Opry” back in the 1980s, and a few little-known facts about the show.
Lecil Travis Martin, who was best known by his stage name Boxcar Willie, was inducted into the “Grand Ole Opry” in 1981. In the ’80s, the Texan had a handful of hits, including “Keep on Rollin’ Down the Line” and “The Man I Used to Be.” On April 12, 1999, he died after a struggle with leukemia at the age of 67.
Holly Dunn was inducted in 1989, but she became one of the few to be removed after she retired from music in 2003. She released a slew of hits throughout the ’80s and ’90s, including “Are You Ever Gonna Love Me” and “You Really Had Me Going.” Her last studio album was 2003’s “Full Circle.” In 2016, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Reba McEntire was inducted on January 17, 1986. With over 90 million albums sold worldwide, the Oklahoma native is the second best-selling female country artist of all time. Aside from music, she is also known for starring in the hit TV series “Reba,” which lasted six seasons on The CW.
Johnny Russell became a member and a host on July 6, 1985. For nearly twenty years, the Mississippi native delivered beloved classics such as “Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer” and “The Son of Hickery Holler’s Tramp.” Due to his obesity, both of his legs were amputated in April 2001. Three months later, he passed away from diabetes-related complications at the age of 61.
On March 2, 1984, The Whites were inducted into the “Grand Ole Opry.” The outfit was a big ’80s staple in country music with the hits “Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On” and “When The New Wears Off of Our Love.” In 2014, the act celebrated 30 years with the “Grand Ole Opry.”
Roy Clark was inducted on August 22, 1987. The Virginia native is probably best known for being the co-host of the hit series “Hee Haw,” which lasted from 1969 to 1992. In 2009, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. His last studio album was 1995’s “My Favorite Hymns.”
Patty Loveless was inducted on June 11, 1988. The Kentucky native has over 40 singles to her name, including the number one hits “Timber, I’m Falling in Love,” “You Can Feel Bad,” and “Blame It on Your Heart.” Her last studio album was 2009’s “Mountain Soul II.” In 2013, she celebrated 25 years with the “Grand Ole Opry.”
At the age of 13, Lorrie Morgan made her debut on “Grand Ole Opry,” and she became one of the youngest people inducted in 1984. Her 1989 debut album “Leave the Light On” reached platinum status, and the next two releases (1991’s “Something in Red” and 1992’s “Watch Me”) followed suit. In 2016, she released her 12th studio album “Letting Go…Slow.”
Ricky Van Shelton
Ricky Van Shelton, who was inducted in 1988, had 10 number one hits on the country charts, including “I’ll Leave This World Loving You,” “From a Jack to a King,” and “I’ve Cried My Last Tear for You.” In 2006, he retired from touring. His last studio album was 2000’s “Fried Green Tomatoes.”
On his 39th birthday, B.J. Thomas was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. The Texan is best known for the songs “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” “Rock and Roll Lullaby,” and “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.” In 2013, the song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Since 1981, John Conlee has been a member of the “Grand Ole Opry.” He’s had a handful of number one singles in his career, including “As Long as I’m Rockin’ with You” and “Got My Heart Set on You.” His last studio album was 2004’s “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.”
Mel McDaniel became a member on January 11, 1986. He had a significant amount of time on the airwaves with the singles “Big Ole Brew,” “Old Man River (I’ve Come to Talk Again),” and the number one hit “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On.” On March 31, 2011, McDaniel died from lung cancer at the age of 68.
Riders in the Sky
Riders in the Sky, who were inducted in 1982, performed at “Grand Ole Opry” 700 times in their lengthy career. The outfit won two Grammy Awards in the category of Best Musical Album For Children for their 2001 release “Woody’s Roundup: A Rootin’ Tootin’ Collection of Woody’s Favorite Songs” and their 2003 release “Monsters, Inc. Scream Factory Favorites.”
Ricky Skaggs, who was inducted in 1982, won 14 Grammys for his work in bluegrass and country music. Since August 1981, he has been married to The Whites’ member Sharon White. In 2014, he released a collaboration album with his wife titled “Hearts Like Ours.” He is often credited for saving country music in the ’70s.
On December 20, 1986, Randy Travis was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. The iconic singer sold over 25 million albums worldwide and won six Grammys for his work. In 2000, the artist turned his attention to making gospel music. Aside from music, Travis has acting credits in “Touched by an Angel,” “Matlock,” and “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.”
Getting your own postage stamp is a huge honor. Several members of the “Grand Ole Opry” have been awarded their own stamps to commemorate their great accomplishments in country music. Roy Acuff, the Carter Family, Johnny Cash, and Patsy Cline have all been given their own stamps over the years.
Celebrities Joining In
While the “Grand Ole Opry” is known for delivering the best in country music, a handful of celebrities have made appearances. President Richard Nixon, Jack Black, Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Kenny Loggins, and CBS’ Bob Schieffer and Charles Osgood are some of the famous names that have stepped foot on the iconic stage.
Longest Running Radio Show
The “Grand Ole Opry” has the title of longest radio show ever. Its roots date back to November 28, 1925 when it was originally called “WSM Barn Dance.” On December 10, 1927, the show was officially called “Grand Ole Opry.” Currently, the show runs three times a week on Sirius XM Satellite Radio and various national radio stations.
The Loyal Fan
You’ve always hear about loyal fans that will travel extensively to see their favorite music acts perform. For Paul Eckhart, he decided to never miss a show at the “Grand Old Opry” for 42 years straight. That’s 2,184 weeks in a row. In 2014, he stopped going to consecutive shows.
The “Grand Ole Opry” spent a vast majority of its time without a sponsor. In 2004, that changed when Cracker Barrell announced they were going to be the main sponsors of the show. The current sponsors of “Grand Ole Opry” are health insurance company Humana and variety store Dollar General.