During the ceremony, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Jeff Hanna paid tribute to The Oak Ridge Boys with a special medley of their hits. The group has been playing together since 1973, and have earned seventeen career number one hits.
“‘Y’all Come Back Saloon,’ that’s that whole record that changed everything,” Brooks told the crowd. “They’re also the group that did ‘Callin’ Baton Rouge’ first. It all goes back.”
Dierks Bentley, Carolyn Martin, Chris Scruggs, Jimmy Capps and The Isaacs paid tribute to the Browns and member Jim Ed Brown, who passed away earlier this year. “Every time I played the Opry, he’d be out there just welcoming us,” Bentley said of Jim Ed. “He’s really made a big impact on me on attitude and gratitude and just being nice.”
Fellow Hall of Fame member Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Duane Eddy, Mandy Barnett, Pete Wade and Buddy Miller also assembled to celebrate Grady Martin. The guitarist, who passed away in 2001, played on some of the most recognizable country tracks of his time, including Merle Haggard’s “A Place to Fall Apart”, and Marty Robbins‘ “El Paso”.
“In Nashville and in other parts of the world, what Grady Martin played is part of the fabric of what we all do,” said classic country vocalist Brenda Lee. “So often what we did, he did it first. And so often, he did it best.”
Each artist was presented with their own commemorative plaque, which features a bronze portrait and short biography, which will be permanently displayed inside the round of the Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville.