Though they weren’t present, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Patsy Cline, Minnie Pearl and Bill Monroe were among the Grand Ole Opry stars honored Wednesday night (Oct. 25) in a TV special marking the 75th anniversary of the long-running radio show.
Vince Gill and Dolly Parton co-hosted the show, scheduled to air Thanksgiving night, Nov. 23, on CBS. The special was taped at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.
Gill was part of a segment honoring Cline. He teamed with Trisha Yearwood, who sang “Crazy” and — with Gill singing harmonies — “I Fall to Pieces.” Gill handled “Walking After Midnight” himself.
The night was filled with connections between the past and present. Pam Tillis did a song in tribute to comedienne Minnie Pearl. Martina McBride honored Loretta Lynn with a performance of “One’s on the Way.” Lynn herself came out for “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” and McBride, Jan Howard, Jeannie Seely and Jeanne Pruett were “sisters in song” with Lynn on “You’re Lookin’ at Country.”
Garth Brooks brought along some of his male colleagues in the Opry family. Johnny Russell, John Conlee, Bill Anderson and Porter Wagoner helped him sing “Friends in Low Places,” and Steve Wariner dueted with him on a high-energy “Long Neck Bottle.” The performances drew standing ovations from the Opry House audience.
Parton and Gill had good chemistry throughout the night. They were especially charming on a performance of Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin’.” And Parton anchored a segment in tribute to the Country Music Hall of Fame that included appearances by George Jones, Lynn, Little Jimmy Dickens and Charley Pride.
An additional taping of a performance by Parton is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT Sunday (Oct. 29) at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The Opry has celebrated its anniversary throughout the year 2000.