Grand Ole Opry legend Porter Wagoner passed away tonight at 8:25pm at Alive Hospice in Nashville, Tenn. Wagoner, 80 years old, had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer. He is survived by three children, Richard, Debra and Denise.
“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,” says Pete Fisher, vice-president and general manager of The Grand Ole Opry. Porter‘s last appearance on the Opry, which he joined in 1957, was September 29.
Born in West Plains, Missouri in 1927, Porter was first a local radio fixture on his way to becoming a pillar of the Grand Ole Opry, a hit recording artist, television icon, Country Music Hall of Fame member, and the very model of the quintessential country music star.
Beginning in the early 50s, Porter had more than 80 charting singles, including more than 25 Top 10 hits. Hits including “Misery Loves Company,” “I’ve Enjoyed As Much of This As I Can Stand,” “The Cold Hard Facts of Life,” “The Carroll County Accident,” and “A Satisfied Mind” were all deeply rooted, hard-country classics. Other music such as “The Green, Green Grass of Home,” and one-of-a-kind concept albums are recognized today as being 20 and 30 years ahead of their time.
Porter brought his songs, his resplendent wardrobe of flashy rhinestone suits, and country music as a whole, to a massive and often new audience through the most modern means then available – syndicated television. “The Porter Wagoner Show” ran for an amazing 21 years, beginning in 1961, and reached more than 100 TV markets. Like its namesake, it was one of the most influential forces in country music history. And it was on the show that Porter introduced fans to the talents of Dolly Parton. Their duets yielded hit after hit, winning a Grammy and three CMA Duo of the Year Awards.
Porter‘s illness came after a comeback that saw him recording again and gaining new fans even as he reached his 80s. In May 2007 he celebrated his 50th year in the Opry. After years without a recording contract, he also signed with Anti Records records, a Los Angeles label known for alt-rock acts like Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Neko Case.
His last CD, Wagonmaster, produced with Marty Stuart, was released in June 2007 and earned some of the best reviews of his career. Over the summer, he also was the opening act for the rock duo White Stripes at a sold-out show at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
“I was thinking while on stage last night, ‘This is the biggest, most well-known arena in the country, and here I am performing at it,'” he said at the time. Tears came to his eyes as he recalled the crowd’s reaction. “The young people I met backstage, some of them were 20 years old,” he said. “They wanted to get my autograph and tell me they really liked me. If only they knew how that made me feel, like a new breath of fresh air. To have new fans now is a tremendous thing.”
Visitation and funeral arrangements are as follows:
Wednesday, October 31 – 2:00-8:00 p.m.
Woodlawn Funeral Home
660 Thompson Lane
Nashville, TN 37204
Thursday, November 1 – 11:00 a.m.
Grand Ole Opry House
2804 Opryland Drive
Nashville, TN 37214
Thursday, November 1- following funeral
Alive Hospice or The Opry Trust Fund
Visitation and Funeral are open to the public.
~Courtesy of GACTVCountry Music Photo Gallery
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