Dan Rogers, the vice president and executive producer of the Grand Ole Opry, made headlines last week when he told Rolling Stone Country that there's no plan in place to reinstate Hank Williams as an Opry member.
Williams made his Grand Ole Opry debut at the Ryman Auditorium in June 1949-- A night made famous by Williams and his band's six encores. Yet by 1952, Williams' drinking problems and unreliability forced Opry brass to ban him from the show. What was meant as a temporary measure and a wake-up call became permanent when Williams passed away on Jan. 1, 1953.
Despite fan interest in Williams getting symbolically reinstated, as proven by Hank Williams III's 2003 online petition to the Opry, Rogers offers little hope in that happening any time soon, if only because the Opry only inducts living performers.
"Hank Williams will always be a treasured past member of the Grand Ole Opry," Rogers told 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."
While that's not news some Williams fans wanted to hear, take rest in knowing that Rogers admires the "Lovesick Blues" singer and quickly acknowledges how much the honky-tonk legend impacts just about every country music function in Nashville.
On one hand, a special designation for Williams and other deceased contributors to a long-running, influential stage and radio show would make for at least one sold-out concert and would please fans of traditional country music. Yet it might be more worthwhile in 2020 to campaign for living artists surprisingly absent from the Opry's list of members. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest snubs by the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry just happens to be Hank Williams Jr.