Monday, March 16, 2015



Nashville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Forty-one years ago today, March 16, 1974, President Richard M. Nixon and his wife, Pat, attended the opening of the new Grand Ole Opry House here in Music City.  The new home of Radio Station WSM's weekly broadcast was the first built especially for the Opry.

The opening, which was performed before a standing-room-only audience, also marked the first time a President of the United States had attended the Opry.

Mr. Nixon could not pass up the opportunity to show off his talents on the ivory.  He played 'My Wild Irish Rose,' 'God Bless America,' and in honor of his wife's birthday, 'Happy Birthday.'

Dolly Parton at the Grand Ole Opry
Nashville, Tennessee
Photo by Tech Sgt Cherie A. Thurlby, USAF
April 24, 2005
Department of Defense Image

Legendary Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff* gave the President an on-stage lesson on how to 'yo-yo.'

The Grand Ole Opry was founded on November 28, 1925 by George D. Hay** who gave what would become the longest running radio broadcast of all time its name when he introduced an act on December 10, 1927 which followed a classical music broadcast.  Mr. Hay said...

"For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera.  From now on, we will present the Grand Ole Opry."

WSM'S Grand Ole Opry
Nashville, Tennessee
Photo by John White (2010)

On June 5, 1943, the Opry moved to the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville where it would remain until the new Opry House was opened in 1974. The Ryman came to be called the 'Mother Church of Country Music.'

Ryman Auditorium
Nashville, Tennessee
Photo by John White (2010)

*Roy Claxton Acuff (1903-1992) was born in Maynardville, TN.  He was a graduate of Central High School in Knoxville, TN. where he was a 3 sport standout.  Turning down a scholarship at Carson Newman College, RCA began his music career singing & playing fiddle with the Smoky Mountain Boys. 

 In 1942, Roy co-founded the Acuff-Rose Music Company in Nashville & in 1962 became the first living member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

Roy Acuff is known as the King of Country Music.

Roy Claxton Acuff
Tennessee Historical Marker
Maynardville, Tennessee
Photo by Brian Stansberry (2005)

**George Dewey Hay (1895-1968) was born in Attica, Indiana.  He worked for the Commercial Appeal & became a radio disc jockey in 1923.  Moving to Chicago, he was the announcer for the National Barn Dance on WLS.  When GDH moved to Nashville in 1925, he started the WSM Barn Dance which soon became known as the Grand Ole Opry.