Close friends sing Wagoner's praises

October 31, 2007

Reflections on the life of longtime Grand Ole Opry star Porter Wagoner from a few of his peers and admirers following his death on Sunday at age 80 in Nashville:

"I went over on Sunday and spent his last few hours with Porter and his family, so I was able to say goodbye. I sang for him and prayed with him. It felt good that I had the opportunity to say goodbye properly. His family is very grateful to everyone for all their help."

-- Dolly Parton

"He was one of the real faces on Rushmore when it comes to Nashville, Tenn., and the Grand Ole Opry. He was a lifer. He spent his entire life living up to being Porter Wagoner on the Grand Ole Opry. He was serious about that, and he did a very good job of it. I had the pleasure of being close friends with him, fished with him. We cut a lot of our records in the late '70s at his Fireside Studios in Nashville. We cut hits like 'Ramblin' Fever,' things like that. I was real close to him and to Dolly. I think the old man upstairs was giving him a full dose, letting him go right up to the last. We were talking about doing a show together [in] January in Portland. We were both real happy about that because we haven't worked together in a while. It's a great shock and it's a great loss. I hope the country gives him the sendoff he deserves. . . . He was a great American."

-- Merle Haggard

"I was sad to hear of Porter's passing. He was a hero and a great gentleman for country music and the Grand Ole Opry. I first became a fan when he had 'A Satisfied Mind' out. We always had a good time sharing jokes backstage at the Opry or whatever stage we might be sharing. His television show was a big boost for country performers. Country music lost a bit of sparkle with the passing of Porter Wagoner."

-- George Jones"Porter was a wonderful man. Well-versed, and well-dressed. The song he wrote, 'The Rubber Room,' is one that I will love for the rest of my life. I wish I could've spent more time with him and learned more from him. I'm glad that we were able to share a bill together. It was an honor."

-- Jack White

"I grew up watching his television show in Mississippi, and it was as if he were a member of our family. After I got to know him, he was. He was a masterful showman who understood the art of the final act. He left the world on top. Some things that soften the blow of his passing are all the memories from the past year: We made a wonderful record together that got him lots of acclaim, he celebrated his 50th anniversary with the Grand Ole Opry . . . and he was asked to light the nation's Christmas tree . . . in Washington, D.C., next month. One of the last things he said to me was, 'You're gonna have to call the president and tell him I won't be able to sing him any Christmas songs this year. Maybe next year.' "

-- Marty Stuart

"[His] historic presence was exemplified on his last album release, 'Wagonmaster,' and was in clear abundant evidence from the moment he took the stage and throughout his performance in early 2007 at the Music Box Theater in Hollywood, where I had the extreme privilege to make one of the most cherished memories of my musical life, accompanying him playing bass as an honorary Wagoneer. . . . Without a doubt, it's my opinion that through his recorded work on records and in television, Porter Wagoner will continue to have a resounding influence on country music for generations to come."

-- Dwight Yoakam

Los Angeles Times Articles