Porter Wagoner 1927-2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

"The Grand Ole Opry family is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of our dear friend, Porter Wagoner. His passion for the Opry and all of country music was truly immeasurable. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this difficult time"

--Pete Fisher
Vice-President and General Manager of The Grand Ole Opry.

Mr. Wagoner died yesterday from lung cancer Sunday October 28, 2007 at Alive Hospice in Nashville, TN.

Wagoner was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 50 years, his last performance occurred on September 29, 2007. He had more than 80 charting singles, including more than 25 Top 10 hits. Among his musical hits, influences, and always staying on the cutting edge of new musical expression, Wagoner recorded his last album titled "Wagonmaster" released in June of this year and even was the opening act for the influential rock duo White Stripes at a sold-out show at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Wagoner was also no stranger to television, as well, The Porter Wagoner Show stayed in production for 21 years. When the show lost its first female singer, Norma Jean, a then unknown Dolly Parton was selected by Wagoner to fill the position and through their years together had 14 Top 10 duet hits. Wagoner even produced some of Parton's early hits. In 1974. the partnership ended, leading to lawsuits on businesses issues, however remained friendly, which led to Parton's writing of "I Will Always Love You."

Wagoner will never be forgotten as well for his big smile, his custom-made rhinestone suits, and his amazing presence on the stage of The Grand Ole Opry. His many hits like his very first, "Company's Comin," "Skid Row Joe," "Green, Green Grass of Home," "Carroll County Accident," and so many others will never be forgotten either.

Funeral services for Porter Wagoner will be held Thursday morning at 11 a.m. at the Grand Ole Opry House, just off Briley Parkway. Visitation will be Wednesday from 2-8 p.m. at Woodlawn Funeral Home, 660 Thompson Lane, and both the visitation and the funeral are open to the public.

On a personal note, I will never forget all the times I have been able to be at the Opry and see him perform and host a segment. The amazing rhinestones sparkling bright under the lights as he introduced the artists or sang a song opening the jacket to his suit and showing off the Bass Pro Shops logo sewn inside. Then, there was the last time I saw him, walking out of the front door at the Ryman after a show in his jeans, button up flanel, and a jacket. Un-noticed, hardly, as he got into his vehicle and drove away.

He is one of the members of the Opry that makes the experience special. For 50 years, a part of its character, a part of the incredible talent, and that part of Wagoner will never die at the Opry, even though he is now gone from this Earth, he will always be smiling down on the Opry every weekend.

The Tennessan (Full Article)

The Tennessan (Second Article, funeral arrangements)

The New York Times

USA Today

The Associated Press

"It is with great sadness that we must say goodbye to our good friend and Grand Ole Opry legend, Porter Wagoner. He was a part of our Gaylord Opryland Resort family, a part of our heritage, our community, an American icon, and a loyal friend. Our hearts go out to his family, with whom we are also very close. For 23 years Porter flipped the switch at our A Country Christmas lighting ceremony making 2 million lights shine bright. No doubt this year our lights will be sparkling even brighter with Porter smiling down on us."

--Arthur Keith
Senior Vice President and General Manager Gaylord Opryland Resort