Jan. 29: One of the stranger nuggets of Grand Ole Opry lore took place 33 years ago today. In the words of my friend Tom Roland, whose RolandNote database provides the “this date in history” facts underpinning most 3 Chords a Day posts:

    Andy Warhol visits the Grand Ole Opry, where he’s given a bag of Goo Goo Clusters. He knows few of the Opry stars, and Marty Robbins and Roy Acuff don’t know him. “Whoever he is,” Acuff says, “we’re mighty happy to have him here.”

What I wouldn’t give to have been backstage to witness THAT!

I looked — in vain — for audio from Jan. 29, 1977, to get a taste of what Warhol saw that night at the Grand Ole Opry House. But I did find a half-hour of the show from about 10 years earlier. Can’t pinpoint the date, although it seems to be from 1967 or early ’68. Opry Manager Ott Devine is the announcer, Hank Snow the host, the Ryman Auditorium the venue. Snow’s guests in the first 15 minutes are Dottie West and Stonewall Jackson, with Skeeter Davis, the Fruit Jar Drinkers (an act from the Opry’s earliest days) and Hugh X. Lewis joining him for the last quarter-hour. Unlike today, there’s nothing but country music here. Heck, even on a quintessential Nashville Sound number like West’s “Here Comes My Baby,” the steel guitar is up in the mix.

Go to the jump to check it out. It should be interesting to those familiar only with the Opry’s modern format and lineup. Unfortunately, one of the key pieces of the Opry experience – the live commercials, read by the on-stage announcer or the segment host – were omitted from these clips. Still, it’s a neat glimpse into the past of an American institution, the Grand Ole Opry.

Part 1: Hank Snow, Dottie West, Stonewall Jackson

Part 2: Hank Snow, Skeeter Davis

Part 3: Hank Snow, The Fruit Jar Drinkers, Skeeter Davis

Part 4: Hank Snow, Hugh X. Lewis

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