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December 30

Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys appeared on the Grand Ole Opry in 1944, causing a stir when Monte Mountjoy’s drum set was moved onto the stage at the last minute. Drums were previously not allowed. Their first number was New San Antonio Rose.

Lefty Frizzell made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry in 1950, singing If You’ve Got The Money I’ve Got The Time and I Love You A Thousand Ways.

The Roy Rogers Show debuted on NBC in 1951. The series features Rogers, wife Dale Evans and sidekick Pat Brady, plus the couple’s horses–Trigger and Buttermilk–and dog Bullet. Rogers and Evans signed off each episode with their theme song, Happy Trails.

Jack Greene was asked to be Ernest Tubb’s drummer when Tubb played Atlanta’s East Point in 1961. He became an official member of the band six months later.

Johnny Paycheck gave a free concert in Big Stone Gap, VA in 1977, to support striking coal miners. Paycheck played Take This Job And Shove It twice.

Epic released Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson’s duet album Pancho & Lefty in 1982.

Songwriter Mack David died in Rancho Mirage, CA in 1993. Primarily a pop songwriter, he also wrote two hits for Margo Smith, Marty Robbins’ The Hanging Tree, The Judds’ Born To Be Blue and Barbara Mandrell’s Happy Birthday Dear Heartache

Grand Ole Gospel Time, which followed the Grand Ole Opry for 23 years on Friday nights, was held for the final time in 1994. The show was produced by the reverend Jimmy Snow, son of Hank Snow.

George Jones was saluted during the 2008 CBS special The Kennedy Center Honors. Brad Paisley, Randy Travis and Alan Jackson cover his songs, and Garth Brooks offers a medley of White Lightning, The Grand Tour and The Race Is On.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Bob Ferguson was born in Willow Springs, MO in 1927. He produced Connie Smith, Dolly Parton and Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius, and wrote Ferlin Husky’s Wings Of A Dove and Porter Wagoner’s The Carroll County Accident.

Steel guitarist Orville “Red” Rhodes was born in East Alton, IL in 1930. He won four Academy of Country Music Awards as a musician in the 1960s and ’70s.

Skeeter Davis was born in Dry Ridge, KY in 1931. She earned her first hit as a 1953 duet partner of Betty Jack Davis, who died in a car accident. Skeeter went on to Grand Ole Opry membership and a solo career that peaked with 1962’s The End Of The World.

Singer/songwriter John Hartford was born in New York in 1937. The multi-instrumentalist worked primarily in bluegrass throughout his career, though he created a pop and country standard by writing Glen Campbell’s Gentle On My Mind.

Dobro player Mike Auldridge was born in Washington, D.C. in 1938. He joined the bluegrass band The Seldom Scene and performed on Emmylou Harris’ Making Believe, plus her duet with Linda Ronstadt, I Never Will Marry. He died from cancer just one day short of his birthday on December 29, 2012.

Jeff Lynne was born in Birmingham, England in 1947. The leader of the pop group the Electric Light Orchestra, he made an appearance on the country chart in 1989 as the producer and co-writer of Roy Orbison’s You Got It.

Suzy Bogguss was born in Aledo, IL in 1956. She earned respect for her easy-going vocal skills and adept song selection in the 1990s, gaining thoughtful hits with Outbound Plane, Just Like The Weather, Aces and Letting Go.

Songwriter Don Henry was born in San Jose, CA in 1959. He co-wrote Kathy Mattea’s Where’ve You Been and Miranda Lambert’s All Kinds Of Kinds.