Opry’s official television network Circle is launched with original programming, classic favorites, and Opry highlights.
March 14, 2020
COVID-19 affects communities globally and shuts down much of the United States. The Saturday Night Grand Ole Opry goes back to its roots as a live, weekly broadcast show without an audience. The show continues to broadcast live to homes across the world on WSM Radio and launches its first livestream with its network, Circle TV, keeping the music playing and the circle unbroken.
April— September 2020
The Grand Ole Opry keeps the music playing, now reaching new audiences across the globe with its network Circle with the continued filming of the Opry Livestream. Special guests have included Garth Brooks, Trish Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Keb' Mo, Luke Combs, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith and so many more.
Opry kicks off its 95th anniversary by welcoming back an audience for the first time since March 2020 with 500 guests in its pews. The show begins a month-long celebration of the Opry, country music, the artists, and the fans.
May 1-2, 2010
The Grand Ole Opry sustains major damage during the two-day flood that devastates much of Nashville. The stage was left underwater, and the Opry is forced to broadcast at various locations around the city. The Opry makes its return home on September 28, 2010 where Blake Shelton is asked to become an official Opry member.
September 25, 2012
Loretta Lynn marks her 50th anniversary as a member of the Opry family with a star-studded show featuring Trace Adkins, her sister Crystal Gayle, Lee Ann Womack, and Miranda Lambert.
May 2, 2013
The Opry family comes together at the Opry House to mourn the loss of Opry and country great George Jones during a service carried live via television, radio, and livestream. Among the many sharing their words and songs are Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, and First Lady Laura Bush.
September 17, 2013
Ole time string band Old Crow Medicine Show stages an impromptu performance on the Opry Plaza before becoming an official Opry member later in the evening. Some of the group’s first gigs were entertaining Opry guests in the plaza more than 10 years earlier.
March 16, 2014
The Opry celebrates 40 years at the Opry House with performances by Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Bill Anderson, and more, as well as an all-cast show opener led by Old Crow Medicine Show that is reminiscent of Roy Acuff’s show opener 40 years earlier.
August 18, 2015
Academy award-winning actors Robert Duvall and Billy Bob Thornton make their Opry debuts the same night. Duvall serves as a guest announcer and performs the song, “Cheyenne,” from his movie Wild Horses, while Thornton debuted with his band, Boxmasters.
October 9-10, 2015
The Opry celebrates its 90th anniversary with a weekend long birthday bash that features star-studded shows with artists the Oak Ridge Boys, Carrie Underwood, Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert, and Alan Jackson.
August 13, 2016
One of the most beloved Opry members, Vince Gill, celebrates his 25th anniversary as an Opry member, doing what he loves best, performing and sharing the stage with his close friends and family, including wife Amy Grant, Bill Anderson, Charlie Worsham, Rodney Crowell, Patty Loveless, and many more.
August 21, 2017
The Opry hosts a Total Eclipse Plaza Party complete with a viewing celebration, live music, plenty of food, and family entertainment that attracts thousands to the Opry Plaza for the historic event.
June 10, 2018
The Opry hosts its first Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival performance with a two-hour set featuring Old Crow Medicine Show, Del McCoury, Maggie Rose, Bobby Bare, Lanco, and Joshua Hedley. The show was broadcast on the Opry’s radio home WSM Radio and hosted by Bill Cody.
September 25, 2018
Bill Murray makes his surprise Opry debut when he crashes the show on stage with music legend John Prine and the Steeldrivers. Murray sang backup to Prine’s 1971 debut, “Paradise.” In Bill Murray fashion, he surprised many locals and music fans during his trip to Nashville.
October 12, 2019
Dolly Parton celebrates her 50th anniversary as an Opry member with Dolly Week that included multiple nights of shows full of stars who paid homage to her legacy. Celebrations included two sold out shows. Dolly made her first Opry debut when she was 13 years old where Johnny Cash introduced her.
February 17, 2001
Brad Paisley is inducted into the Opry while wearing the bright yellow jacket that Buck Owens wore on the cover of his 1966 Live at Carnegie Hall album.
August 31, 2002
On the occasion of its 4,000th consecutive Saturday night broadcast, the Opry pays tribute to one of its most beloved past members, Minnie Pearl. Opry member Steve Wariner receives the Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award during the evening's broadcast, presented by Kathy Mattea.
November 30, 2002
Tim McGraw makes his Grand Ole Opry debut on a bill that also includes Brad Paisley.
December 14, 2002
Toby Keith makes his Opry debut. Keith Urban and Trace Adkins also appear that night.
January 4, 2003
Hank Williams Jr. and Hank Williams III both perform during an Opry show commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hank Williams death. Hank Williams Jr. introduces the son of Rufus "Tee Tot" Payne, the street musician who mentored Hank Williams. Vince Gill, the Whites, and Little Jimmy Dickens also perform during the tribute.
Feburary 16, 2003
Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt, and Hank Williams Jr. pay tribute to Waylon Jennings, who had died the previous Wednesday. Porter Wagoner calls the tribute "the most exciting night I can ever remember on the Opry.”
June 14, 2003
While standing on a stepladder, 4'11" Little Jimmy Dickens invites 6'6" Trace Adkins to join the Opry.
October 15, 2005
Garth Brooks, in retirement, returns to the Opry for the first time in five years, performing for the Opry’s 80th anniversary show with Porter Wagoner, Bill Anderson, Jimmy Dickens.
September 1, 2006
Taylor Swift makes her Opry debut. Her video performance of her song, “Tim McGraw,” is included in the deluxe version of her debut album.
May 19, 2007
Porter Wagoner celebrates his 50th anniversary with the Opry. Wagoner’s former duet partner, Dolly Parton, joins him in the celebrations to sing “Just Someone I Used to Know,” “The Last Thing on My Mind,” and “I Will Always Love You.” It’s the last time the two appear together on the Opry stage.
May 9, 2009
Award-winning actor, comedian and musician Steve Martin plays the banjo as he makes his Opry debut to promote his album, The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo. Also appearing that night was Vince Gill, Amy Grant, musicians Stuart Duncan, Tim O’Brien, John McEuen, and others. “I can’t tell you what a thrill it is for me to be standing on this stage with you and all these great people,” said Martin.
November 3, 1990
On the occasion of her 50th anniversary with the Opry, Minnie Pearl receives 50 dozen — that's 600 — roses from Dwight Yoakam. President and Mrs. George Bush send a congratulatory telegram, and Dolly Parton shares her good wishes via videotape. After seeing Parton's message, Pearl quips, "I wear a hat so folks can tell us apart.”
October 23, 1992
Opry patriarch Roy Acuff makes his final performance. "The King of Country Music" would die exactly one month later, at age 89.
May 11, 1993
Charley Pride joins the Opry, 26 years after first appearing on the show as a guest.
July 3, 1993
Alison Krauss becomes the first bluegrass artist in 19 years to join the Opry cast when she is inducted by Garth Brooks.
November 30, 1995
Martina McBride joins the Opry during a taping of a CBS special celebrating the Opry's 70th anniversary, inducted by one of her biggest influences, Loretta Lynn.
January 3, 1998
Grandpa Jones makes his final Opry appearance. The 84-year-old entertainer suffers the first of a series of strokes shortly after his performance and goes straight from the Opry to a Nashville hospital. He would pass away on February 19th.
November 7, 1998
Jimmy Dickens celebrates his 50th Opry anniversary with friends, while cohorts Carl Smith, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare, and Bill Anderson are on hand to celebrate with him.
January 15-16, 1999
The Grand Ole Opry broadcasts all three of its weekend shows from Ryman Auditorium for the first time in 25 years, surprising Trisha Yearwood with an invitation to join the cast. She would become an Opry member on March 13, 1999.
June 9, 1984
Lorrie Morgan becomes an official Opry member. The daughter of Opry star George Morgan had made her Opry debut years earlier on the Ryman stage, singing "Paper Roses:” "My little 13-year-old knees were absolutely knocking,” she said. "But I saw Dad standing there just bawling, and those people gave me a standing ovation. I thought, 'This is what I'm going to do for the rest of my life.'"
May 18, 1985
Then Vice President and Mrs. George Bush visit the Opry. Ten years later, the couple would celebrate its 50th anniversary at the Opry House.
June 28, 1985
Country singer Gary Morris becomes the first person to sing opera on the Opry when he performs Rudolfo's first aria from Puccini's La Boheme.
January 17, 1986
Reba McEntire is inducted into the Opry. McEntire first made her Opry debut in 1977, and almost didn’t get to perform after a guard at the Opry gate missed her name on the night’s list of performer.
March 15, 1974
The Opry broadcasts its last Friday show from the Ryman. George Morgan's "Candy Kisses" ends the show. After the Opry, Johnny and June Carter Cash sing "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" on Grand Ole Gospel Time to end the final broadcast from the Ryman.
March 16, 1974
Roy Acuff opens the new 4,440-seat Grand Ole Opry House with a performance of "The Wabash Cannonball.” President Richard Nixon attends and leads the Opry audience in singing "Happy Birthday" to First Lady Pat Nixon, who turns 62 years old. Acuff attempts to teach the President how to yo-yo before the Opry audience.
Four members of the Apollo-Soyuz crew (three American and one Russian astronaut) visit the Opry following the spacecraft's historic flight.
January 29, 1977
Andy Warhol and Jamie Wyeth visit the Opry at the invitation of Tex Ritter's widow, Dorothy, the official Opry hostess and patroness of the Nashville art scene. The two artists are in Nashville to attend a reception at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art for an exhibit of portraits they painted of each other.
March 4, 1978
The Grand Ole Opry is televised live for the first time, as part of a PBS pledge-drive special.
June 17, 1978
Marty Robbins drives his new, custommade Panther DeVille onto the Opry stage. Roy Acuff gets a security guard, who writes Robbins a parking ticket.
January 27, 1979
Actress Sissy Spacek joins Loretta Lynn on the Opry stage as Spacek prepares for her starring role in the motion picture Coal Miner's Daughter. Spacek would later win an Academy Award for her portrayal of the Opry legend.
March 10, 1979
At the invitation of Porter Wagoner, R&B superstar James Brown performs at the Opry. Brown's set includes "Your Cheatin' Heart" and "Tennessee Waltz,” as well as his own "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag.”
January 9, 1960
Patsy Cline joins the Opry cast. Cline's monster hit "Crazy" was written by a young songwriter named Willie Nelson.
March 9, 1963
A silent prayer is held during the Opry in tribute to members Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, and Hawkshaw Hawkins, who had died March 5th in a plane crash near Camden, Tennessee. Also remembered is Jack Anglin of the duo Johnnie and Jack, who was killed en route to a prayer service for Cline.
Johnny Cash drags his microphone stand across the front of the Ryman stage, breaking all of the footlights. He is banished from the Opry. Later that night, Cash wrecks his car, breaking his nose and his jaw.
March 15, 1968
Rock group the Byrds, featuring Gram Parsons and future Desert Rose Band member Chris Hillman, perform on the Grand Ole Opry. The group sings Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere,” then substitutes the original "Hickory Wind" for a planned cover of Merle Haggard's "Sing Me Back Home.”
April 6, 1968
A curfew imposed by the city of Nashville following the Rev. Martin Luther King's assassination in Memphis two days earlier forces the Opry to cancel its live performance. For the only time in its history, the Opry broadcast is a previously taped show. Roy Acuff, Sam and Kirk McGee, and other performers put on a makeshift show at a nearby square-dance hall for Opry fans that afternoon.
May 11, 1968
The Opry pays tribute to founder George D. Hay, who had died in Virginia on May 8.
May 29, 1950
"Mother" Maybelle Carter and the Carter Sisters, June, Anita, and Helen join the Opry.
October 2, 1954
Elvis Presley sings Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" during his one and only Opry appearance. Presley is nervous about the reaction of Monroe to his souped-up 4/4 time version of the waltz, but is pleasantly surprised when the bluegrass legend compliments his interpretation.
Jim Reeves joins the Opry cast. Among the internationally popular member's biggest hits is "He'll Have to Go.”
Johnny Cash joins the Opry. Johnny meets his future wife, June Carter, backstage at the Opry the same year.
May 11, 1957
The Everly Brothers make their Opry debut, the same week their first single, “Bye Bye Love,” enters the country charts.
Comedienne Minnie Pearl joins the Opry cast. Though many of the signature elements of Minnie Pearl are present already, the gossip of Grinder's Switch has not yet added the famous price tag to her flowered straw hat.
January 16, 1943
Ernest Tubb makes his Opry debut. He brings with him the guitar of his idol, Jimmie Rodgers, given to Tubb by Rodgers' widow, Carrie.
June 5, 1943
The Opry moves to Ryman Auditorium on Fifth Avenue in downtown Nashville. The building, a former tabernacle, features oak pew seating and nearly perfect acoustics, but no air conditioning.
December 30, 1944
Western swing bandleader Bob Wills plays the Opry. Because drums have not been allowed at the Opry, Wills' drummer must set up his kit behind a curtain. A woman seated in the portion of the balcony that passed over the wings of the stage becomes so excited during Wills' performance that she falls out of the balcony onto the stage.
April 14, 1945
A performance of "Taps,” played to mark the passing of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt two days before, becomes the first use of a trumpet during an Opry broadcast.
December 8, 1945
Earl Scruggs makes his debut with Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, completing the historic lineup that would serve as the prototype for the bluegrass sound with Monroe on mandolin, Scruggs on banjo, Lester Flatt on guitar, Chubby Wise on fiddle, and Howard Watts on bass.
Red Foley brings a young guitarist named Chet Atkins to the Opry for the first time.
June 11, 1949
Hank Williams makes his Opry debut. The audience calls him back six times to reprise his song, "Lovesick Blues.” Opry legend Little Jimmy Dickens says it's the Opry performance by another artist he most vividly recalled..
In order to accommodate growing Saturday night crowds at the National Life Building, the Opry moves into the newly constructed Studio C, which seats 500 guests.
The Opry rents the 800-seat Hillsboro Theater, a former silent film house in the Vanderbilt University area. The show's platooning system begins here, as the performers play two 15-minute segments in front of separate audiences. Known today as the Belcourt Theatre, the venue continues to house film and music events.
June 13, 1936
The Opry relocates to the Dixie Tabernacle, a 3,500-seat religious revival house with wooden benches, sawdust floors, and no dressing rooms at 410 Fatherland Street in East Nashville.
February 5, 1938
Roy Acuff makes his second Opry appearance with his band, The Crazy Tennesseans, after a lackluster debut four months earlier. Acuff's rendition of "The Great Speckled Bird" generates an avalanche of mail, prompting WSM to add him to the cast officially two weeks later.
The Opry moves to the War Memorial Auditorium in downtown Nashville. Because the auditorium's seating capacity of 2,200 is a third less than the Dixie Tabernacle, the show begins charging an admission of 25 cents.
October 14, 1939
The NBC radio network begins carrying a half-hour Opry segment hosted by Roy Acuff and sponsored by Prince Albert Tobacco. The show attracts mostly regional affiliates.
October 28, 1939
Bluegrass patriarch Bill Monroe joins the Opry cast and performs "Muleskinner Blues.” George D. Hay is so taken with Monroe's performance, he declares that if Monroe ever wants to leave the Opry, he' ll have to fire himself.
November 28, 1925
The WSM Barn Dance — forerunner of the Grand Ole Opry — broadcasts for the first time from a 15-foot by 20-foot fifth-floor studio in the National Life and Accident Insurance Company Building in downtown Nashville. A white-bearded, 77-year-old fiddler named Uncle Jimmy Thompson, who claimed he knew a thousand songs and could "fiddle the taters off the vine,” played a set that began with "Tennessee Waggoner:'
April 17, 1926
Uncle Dave Macon becomes a Barn Dance regular. The 55-year-old former vaudevillian was the show's first performer with a national reputation, and he entertained Opry audiences with his old-time banjo picking and comedy until three weeks before his death on March 1, 1952, at age 81.
June 19, 1926
DeFord Bailey, the Opry's first African American member, makes his Opry debut. Bailey, billed as "The Harmonica Wizard;' would be a regular on the show until 1941, and his signature tune, "Pan American Blues," often would open the broadcasts.
Following an NBC network broadcast of conductor Walter Damrosch's Music Appreciation Hour, WSM program director George D. Hay, nicknamed the "Solemn Old Judge:· proclaims, "For the past hour we have been listening to the music taken largely from the Grand Opera, but from now on we will present the Grand Ole Opry'.' The new name sticks.