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December 25

Riverboat captain Thomas Ryman, who funded construction of the Union Tabernacle, died in Nashville in 1904. After his passing, the building is renamed the Ryman Auditorium, eventually becoming the venue for the Grand Ole Opry.

Thirteen-year-old Tammy Wynette joined Auzella Moore, sister-in-law of Elvis guitarist Scotty Moore, in taking Christmas presents to Elvis Presley’s house on Audubon Drive in Memphis in 1955.

“Smokey & The Bandit” actor Burt Reynolds gave an inscribed watch to girlfriend Tammy Wynette for Christmas in 1976.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Alton Delmore was born in Elkmont, AL in 1908. With younger sibling Ramon, he forms The Delmore Brothers, whose mix of country and the blues makes them a popular Grand Ole Opry act in the 1930s and a 2001 entry in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Tenor vocalist and mandolin player John “Curly” Seckler was born in China Grove, NC in 1919. He joined Flatt & Scruggs from 1949-1962, appearing on such classics as Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms.

Record producer Emory Gordy Jr. was born in Atlanta in 1944. The bass player on Elvis Presley’s Burning Love, he goes on to produce his wife, Patty Loveless, plus Alabama, Aaron Tippin, Steve Earle and The Bellamy Brothers, among others.

Singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett was born in Mobile, AL in 1946. With a devout following of Parrot Heads, he combines pop, country and Caribbean influences, gaining a country hit with Margaritaville in 1977 and returning to the genre with several collaborations 30 years later.

Barbara Mandrell was born in Houston, TX in 1948. She won the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award twice while hosting the Barbara Mandrell & The Mandrell Sisters TV show. She ultimately joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

Sissy Spacek was born in Quitman, TX in 1949. She portrayed Loretta Lynn in the 1980 movie Coal Miner’s Daughter and earned a minor 1983 hit, Lonely But Only For You.

Steve Wariner was born in Noblesville, IN in 1954. The singer/songwriter/guitarist arrived in Nashville as Dottie West’s bass player at age 17, acquiring a recording contract in 1978 which yields a string of smooth singles that stretches more than two decades.