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Past Topic of the Week-Editorial


What seems like a smooth ship sailing on smooth water does not mean that it won't sink if it takes on too much water. That is one way to look at the Grand Ole Opry. I know that things are not all that smooth with the Family. I wonder why that is? I do see a lot of new, young talent being previewed and reviewed by the two heads out there. Steve Buchanan and Pete Fisher, since they have come on board have made some drastic changes. Some of these changes were made seemingly with no compassion for anyone involved in the changes, such as Joe Edwards and Leon Rhodes. What about the cutback in some of the veteran artists. It sounds like a "TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT," system that they have enacted at the Opry.

Some of the musicians wife's, who have been coming backstage at the Opry for sometime, have been asked to wait in their cars until their husbands complete their spot. What a lack of respect for these people, who have been backstage causing no problems, and then embarrassingly asked not to enter the backstage area, and to wait outside. And how about only artists being allowed in the dressing rooms. NOW WHAT DOES THAT MEAN. When Garth comes a calling, whenever that may be, will he be told that his dressing room will only be allowed artists inside. The Opry is supposed to be the Home of Country Music Stars.

Since Steve & Pete have come on board, I have not seen the changes that were and are expected. I hope that whatever they are trying to do, that they will use discretion in how they do it. Take a moment to think if it will hurt someone, or bring undue stress to certain persons. They need to start looking at the inner core of this Family and make sure that they can keep it together, so that country music will be alive and well. Many people have been hurt by the SUDDEN CHANGES AT THE OPRY. Changes can be made gradual and without the deep hurt and scars that it might leave as the end result. I wonder if Pete and Steve are thinking about that. I spoke the truth in a press release, and I spoke my feelings, and it cost me the privilege of being with my friends backstage of The Grand Ole Opry. I can say now, that they did me wrong. They know how much I love the Opry, so they knew that that is what would hurt me the most, but it is something that does not make a difference to them. Pete Fisher seems to be on a road that is filled with a lot of potholes and they seem to be getting deeper.

I have spoke good words on Pete Fisher, when he has done something good and when I feel that he does something that is not good, I am going to say it. When I stop and think about my meeting with this man, and how he knows nothing about true traditional country music, and the embarrassment of sitting in his office, and letting him chew me out, and then having him wait until the end of the meeting to inform me that I was barred from the Opry Backstage, with no other reason than my Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press. I have been informed that I am only one of a very few to ever be barred from the Opry. I would accept it more if it had come from a Hal Durham or Bob Whitaker, but from Fisher, it is still hard to swallow. I just want the Opry to be successful, and as it progresses into the future, to take care of its veterans who made the Opry. The newcomers have got to carry it onward, but they did not make it what it is today. I think we all know who has done that. So why does Charlie Louvin and Stonewall Jackson and Billy Walker get only a few spots all of sudden. And how embarrassing can it be for someone such as Billy Walker to be overlooked by the Grand Ole Opry Marketing and Promotion Departments, on his 40 years as a member of the Opry. I little paragraph in the Tennessean for his work and achievements to the Opry over all of those years. His loyalty is worth more than a paragraph, by itself. I wonder if Pete Fisher has two books that he selects his artists that will appear on the Opry each week. One that he feels he has to call, and one that he calls when he has to fill slots. The slots should be filled with the Opry Members first, then the new younger artists.

I have felt for several weeks that more should be said about what is obviously not all happiness at the Opry House. Everything could be good, if they would just listen to what the members have to say.

The Grand Ole Opry will survive all problems and will be bigger and better. I do have faith in that.