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Grand Ole Opry Removes Piano Player Tim Atwood And Fiddle Player Hoot Hester (Due To Ageism)

February 22, 2014

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UPDATE Hoot Hester dies.

There seems to be more turmoil at the Grand Ole Opry, and perhaps more intrigue than we care to imagine coming from the makers of the longest running radio show.    Perhaps more bluntly this is another sad commentary about our beloved Opry

This week it was troubling to learn that piano player Tim Atwood and fiddle player Hoot Hester were released from the staff band.  If you are like me–and I suspect some of my readers are–then you too will recall when one of my favorites on the stage, Roy Acuff, would say “That’s Tim Atwood at the Piano—it’s the cannonball– you’ve rode it before.”  These musicians have institutional memory and should be treasured.

Here is a sample of Hot Hester and his fiddle with the Melvin Sloan Square Dancers at the Opry.

And a performance with Jeannie Seely and Tim Atwood singing “Tell Me About It”.

It has been made known that the two were fired in the way things are now done by the current Opry management, and that means it happened with a phone call.  Cold, impersonal, with no explanation or personal meeting.

Both of these remarkable musicians will be able to play for performers who ask them to be a part of the back-up band.  But they will no longer be a part of the Opry staff band.

The cold-hearted nature of what has happened with the management at the Opry tarnishes the mood of this still proud slice of Americana.  Opry management needs to better understand there are too many warm memories of performers now gone, and future glories to yet unfold on the Opry stage to continue operating with such recklessness.

I tend to think this move is all about ageism, and to that point some readers may recall what I had to say when the Opry tried to steamroll Stonewall Jackson.

The Opry is making a huge mistake by removing some of the performers that made that stage so mighty impressive over the decades. We are displacing a part of the past before they will leave the stage for the last time and go to the biggest Opry show to be played.  It does not need to be that way.  Gaylord Entertainment is greedy and as a result we all lose something.

36 Comments leave one →
  1. Janet Price permalink
    November 24, 2015 3:27 PM

    I have known Hoot Hester most of my life…way before he went to Nashville. I introduced him to his sweet wife, Lola. I am shocked that the Opry has done this. I will never attend the Opry again…you were lucky to have Hoot, he’s the best and its all from his heart..which you obviously don’t have anymore. Country Music has gone to hell in a handbag and you have helped get it there! I am angry, this is so underhanded and heartless.

  2. November 24, 2015 10:44 AM

    I really didn’t mean to post twice on the same issue a while ago, but I thought my first post was lost into cyber space!
    However, Pat B. makes a good point about possibly the older TRADITIONAL SINGERS AND HE “PICKERS” ALIKE ( if I understand Pat B. correctly), should separate themselves from the “POLITCS” of Nashville. The Opry is now some 90 years old, and I’ve have said time and time again,(and I am no prophet) “If ever CORPORATION were to go to Branson and start as big of a Recording Operation that now prevails in Music City, (if you can call it that) Nashville, with its current musical trend, would be just another dot on the U.S. MAP, given of
    course, Branson, were to stick to only the TRADITIONAL COUNTRY MUSIC! But of course this would take a large Corporation willing to spend mega-bucks for this!

  3. Pat b permalink
    November 24, 2015 10:13 AM

    Opry and the Nashville scene are leaving out not only the musicians but the entertainers and musicians that built Nashville to begin with. Its been obvious for a long time to anyone who watches and listens what is happening. In my mind its the “Tower of the fool” in living color. The style of traditional country and the sounds associated with country will fade away into “whatever” the power brokers want. I don’t know if country will ever recover its identity if this trend keeps happening. If you look to see what’s happening the older traditional country artists and the newer ones who sing in the traditional style show up maybe on Larry’s Country Diner or some of the lesser venues while the “bro’s” and pop take over the Opry. Maybe some of the old timers should turn in their memberships or go to Americana if they can and cut ties with the Nashville politics, and the new up and comers like Mo Pitney should go with them as Nashville is showing what they think of them.

  4. November 24, 2015 10:10 AM

    Given the trend that “TODAY’S COUNTRY MUSIC” (if you can call it that) has stooped to, it really should come as no surprise that GAYLORD ENTERPRISES should commit such an
    ATROSITY against these long term Opry members, aged or not! Atwood and Hester have been members of the Opry for decades. It maybe high time us “TRADITIONAL COUNTRY MUSIC FANS, “stoop” (again if you will) to what seems to be the NORM of today’s society, and “BOYCOTT” the OPRY! OK, SUE ME!!!! Whose next Gaylord, JIMMY CAPPS, MUSICIANS HALL OF FAMER? This makes my Blood boil!

  5. J. T. permalink
    November 24, 2015 9:57 AM

    Given the trend of the current so-called “Country Music” genre, it should come as no-surprise that the Gaylord Enterprises has chosen to do this atrocity of getting rid of “OLD BAGAGE!”. Maybe that we, as “TRADITIONAL COUNTRY MUSIC FANS” should do what seems to be the “NORM”(if you will) OF THINGS THESE DAYS AND BOYCOTT THE OPRY”! Okay, so sue me! Whose next, JIMMY CAPPS, HALL OF FAMER?

  6. Joyce Powell permalink
    January 11, 2015 12:02 AM

    I think it is a shame to fire the musicians because they are old. They can and do much better than some of the younger ones ! The Grand Ole Opry is nothing to compare with past years. I would not pay or drive to go see the Opry anymore and we use to go several times a year.

  7. Reba Warren permalink
    May 11, 2014 5:26 PM

    My husband and I used to go to the Opry ever single year, when the REAL country music was played. They would have to pay ME to go see them now. They should fire Pete Fisher and let Marty Stuart be manager. Marty would keep it country. I cannot STAND the Opry any more. What about Connie Smith, she’s old. Would they get rid of a great singer like that? I think it’s so cold to do those musicians like that. They have spent their lives on the Opry and has made it what it is today. Everyone should just stop going. I would NEVER go back there again.

  8. viv permalink
    April 26, 2014 7:50 PM

    Mike Snider has not been on the opry for several months….what is going on

  9. March 24, 2014 11:28 AM

    Snider still performs regularly on the Grand Ole Opry.

  10. viv permalink
    March 22, 2014 8:09 PM

    What about mike snider???did he get added to the list too

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