Monday, October 29, 2007

Porter Wagoner, R. I. P.

USA Today: In 1957, he joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry and celebrated his 50th anniversary with the show this spring. He eventually became the radio show's public face.

He was best known, perhaps, for his flashy, custom-made stage suits that cost thousands of dollars. He sometimes joked that the suits forced him to stay thin, saying he couldn't afford to replace them.

In 1960, he launched TV's syndicated Porter Wagoner Show, on a budget of less than $1,000 an episode. It predated Hee Haw and CMT. At its peak, it aired in more than 100 markets, making it the most important country-music TV property of its time.

Wagoner introduced a young Dolly Parton in 1967. They recorded many duets together, including The Last Thing on My Mind and Just Someone I Used to Know. Wagoner produced some of Parton's early solo hits (1975's The Seeker). The partnership ended acrimoniously in 1974, but Parton wrote I Will Always Love You for him as she left.

More than anything, Wagoner loved a song that told a story. He favored sentimental recitations and macabre tales of murder and insanity, like the cult favorite The Rubber Room. Between 1954 and 1980, he had 20 top 10 country hits, including Green, Green Grass of Home, The Carroll County Accident and The Cold Hard Facts of Life. He won Grammys for three gospel albums with the Blackwood Brothers. In 2002, he became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

7 comments:

  1. When I was a kid, THE PORTER WAGONER SHOW was a staple in our house every Saturday night (right before switching over to HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL and GUNSMOKE, of course.) I don't guess I've heard any of his music in years, though.

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  2. I watched that show every week, too. Remember Dolly Parton advertising the free towels that came in the detergent? "You can only git them in boxes of Breeze."

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  3. Todd Mason11:30 AM

    I didn't love the PORTER WAGONER show, and its success was probably why we had those extra years of HEE HAW, but it was certainly more dignified than most of the syndicated music programming that followed. And much credit for giving Parton her break...I never found her sexpot many did, but man, she's talented.

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  4. Dolly's one of the greats in my book, both as a singer and as a songwriter.

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  5. Porter's The Cold Hard Facts of Life is one of my all-time favorite songs. His singing-songwriting talent will be missed.

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  6. He'll be missed, indeed. I like that song a lot, along with a number of others.

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  7. I think I saw some of his TV shows way back when. I'm amazed they spent $1,000 on them.

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