UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Hank WILLIAMS; Posed portrait of Hank Williams, CMT 2004 Flame Worthy Video Music Awards - Arrivals- Dierks Bentley and Johnny Cash arrives in London, England in 1959.
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Every Country Star to Get Banned from the Grand Ole Opry

Not even Hank Williams was above reproach.

The Grand Ole Opry is often described as country music's biggest family. But unlike your actual family, the Opry will straight up kick you out. Over time, a variety of transgressions have gotten artists in trouble, from inebriated behavior to off-script or off-color comments.

The show started in 1925 as a simple radio broadcast on the Nashville station WSM 650 AM. Back then, live radio gigs were crucial for country stars to find a wide audience.

Opry management has since inducted more than 200 current and former artists into the venue's inner circle. There's no guaranteed way to get an invitation, but the Opry says it's all about relationships. According to the Grand Ole Opry website, "Opry membership requires a passion for country music's fans, a connection to the music's history, and it requires commitment... The decision to bring a new act into the Opry fold is a two-pronged one, based on a combination of career accomplishment and commitment.

"But, really," it continues, "it comes down to just one word: relationships. The relationships between performers and fans. The relationships Opry members have with each other, relationships that may last for decades. And, perhaps most importantly, the relationship between each artist and the ideal of the Grand Ole Opry." Heavy stuff.

You don't necessarily have to be a member of the Opry to play at the Opry. Hundreds of special guests and prospective members play the venue every year— many of whom make their coveted Opry debut. But members and guests alike better respect the honor to step in the stage's hallowed circle— or, in Niko Case's case, to play an Opry-endorsed event. Just ask these artists who were banned from either the Opry House, which opened in 1974, or the show's prior home, the Ryman Auditorum.

Editor's Note: This article first ran in 2018.

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