Music

6 Essential Performances from 'The Porter Wagoner Show'

Porter Wagoner is shown at his home in Nashville, Tenn., July 19, 2007. (AP Photo/Ed Rode)

If you ever wondered who we have to thank for the massive blessing that is having Dolly Parton in our lives, look no further than Porter Wagoner and his beloved TV show, The Porter Wagoner Show. The show was where Parton, along with a whole lot of other country music stars, got their big breaks.

Regularly featuring RCA country artists, The Porter Wagoner Show lasted from 1960 to 1981 and aired for nearly 700 episodes. It was not only a Nashville institution but a beloved American television show. Hosted by the rhinestone suit wearing thin man himself, the show almost always opened with duet performances by Wagoner with Norma Jean or Parton. The formula was simple but effective. The show featured a musical guest, interludes from comedian Speck Rhodes, performances by Wagoner, Parton, Jean and others, a whole lot of jokes and sketches, and some gospel music toward the end of the show, usually performed by Wagoner and Parton but sometimes sung by the musical guest or the whole cast. Sometimes Wagoner's alter-ego, Skid Row Joe, would make an appearance as well.

It was a fun, informal show that everyone with a loyal following. It inspired other country music shows as well, including The Johnny Cash Show and The Marty Stuart Show. Near the end of its run, the show was usually filmed at Opryland USA in Nashville. Though the show did travel though, filming episodes everywhere from Madison Square Garden in New York, The Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Porter Wagoner passed away from lung cancer in 2007, but his impact will live on forever. In honor of this foundational country music show, these are our favorite performances from The Porter Wagoner Show.

1. Speck Rhodes - "The St. Louis Blues"

There was nobody like ole Speck. What a character.

2. Willie Nelson - "She's Not for You"

The performance is great but you might end up being more blown away by what Willie Nelson used to look like.

3. George Jones - "Walk Through This World with Me"

We weren't joking -- seemingly every huge country music star was on this show, including The Possum himself: George Jones.

4. Waylon Jennings - "Time to Bum Again"

Look at shy, young Waylon Jennings making one of his first TV appearances.

5. Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner - "Milwaukee, Here I Come"

Obviously we had to include a Dolly Parton performance with Wagoner himself.

6. Buck Trent - "The Battle of New Orleans"

What's a country music show without some banjo pickin'?

This story was first published in 2019.

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6 Essential Performances from 'The Porter Wagoner Show'