Photo Courtesy Grand Ole Opry, LLC. Chris Hollo, Photographer
The Grand Ole Opry welcomed home Bobby Bare as an official Opry member tonight, on this, the Country Music Hall of Famer’s 83rd birthday. Bare had been a member of the Opry cast in the 1960s and 70s, after which his official Opry membership lapsed. The evening was documented in The Tennessean.
Bare began his Opry set with a collaboration with Mary Gauthier, on “I Drink,” a song she penned and which appears on Bare’s most recent album, Things Change. Bare’s son, Bobby Bare, Jr., then joined his father on the 1970 hit “Come Sundown.” It was the pair’s first Opry collaboration in more than 40 years.
Opry segment host Jeannie Seely then made note of Bare’s birthday and surprised the Opry audience by welcoming Opry member Garth Brooks to the stage. Brooks began, “I gotta tell you, this might be one of the coolest honors I have ever had bestowed on me. I don’t know if you know, but it was less than a month ago I was standing right here when I inducted the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, a kid named Chris Janson. Sweet guy. He sat in this circle of wood and he cried like a baby. And you know why he cried; because he gets it. He gets what it’s like to be a member of the family of the Grand Ole Opry.”
“You get it,” Brooks continued. “…The Grand Ole Opry is family. Family is forever. So Mr. Bare, young man–as my dad would say– it is my honor, it is the Grand Ole Opry’s honor, to officially welcome you back, the great Bobby Bare, to the Grand Ole Opry.”
“I’ve got to tell you that this is quite a surprise. I was a member of the Opry for 10 years, but then I just drifted away. …,” Bare said. “Thank you to everybody on the Grand Ole Opry.”
After a rousing performance of his No. 1 hit “Marie Laveau, Bare-headed backstage to celebrate both his birthday and Opry membership with a crowd of friends and family.
“Our members are the heart of the Grand Ole Opry,” said Opry General Manager Sally Williams. “We rely on the commitment of these tremendous artists who play a wide variety of country music and are in different stages of their careers to ensure the Opry will be vibrant and entertaining for future generations of fans. Bobby Bare enjoys an incredible relationship with all of the Opry artists as well as the Opry staff. He has supported the Opry with visits often over the past few years, and he’s always a crowd favorite. We are so excited to officially welcome him back to Opry membership.”