Here’s the Real Reason the Grand Ole Opry Won’t Reinstate Hank Williams
Although Hank Williams has gone down in history as one of the country music genre's most important figures, he is not a member of the Grand Ole Opry. According to the Opry's current vice president in a new interview, Williams will never be reinstated as a member, either -- but it's nothing personal.
For a few years, Williams was a regular within the hallowed institution, after debuting on the Opry stage in June of 1949, but was fired from the historic show in 1952, two days after missing a performance. Grand Ole Opry brass made the decision in an attempt to show the country singer the consequences of his addiction to alcohol; it was meant to be only a temporary firing. However, Williams' Opry membership was never reinstated after his death, at the age of 29 on Jan. 1, 1953.
In recent years, fans have undertaken efforts to once again make Williams a member of the Grand Ole Opry. The Reinstate Hank Campaign, launched by Williams' own grandson, began a petition that currently has more than 61,000 signatures.
“Hank Williams will always be a treasured past member of the Grand Ole Opry,” Dan Rogers, vice president and executive producer of the Grand Ole Opry, tells Rolling Stone Country. “The Grand Ole Opry is made of living, breathing artists who can contribute to the show, and to whom the Opry can give back."
Even artists who are Grand Ole Opry members when they die are not Opry members in death. While those artists are a big part of the organization's legacy, as Rogers says, Grand Ole Opry membership is only bestowed upon living artists only. Even Opry mainstay Little Jimmy Dickens, who was the organization's oldest living member when he died in 2015, is not considered a current Opry member.
Although Williams will never be reinstated as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, his legacy is still well represented on the legendary stage. His hit songs are regularly covered by current country stars, and many of Williams' direct relatives have performed on the Opry over the years.
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