Star Stats: Porter Wagoner

Star Stats: Porter Wagoner

Originally published in the March 23, 1999 issue of Country Weekly magazine.

Full name: Porter Wayne Wagoner

Birth: Aug. 12, 1927

Death: Oct. 28, 2007 [updated Dec. 3, 2007]

Birthplace: South Fork township of Missouri, just outside of Lanton

Raised: West Plains, Mo.

Hair: silver/gray, curly

Eyes: blue

Parents: father Charley; mother Bertha

Siblings: sisters Lorraine and Lola, brothers Oscar and Glenn Lee

Marriages: brief marriage in 1944 to the former Velma Johnson (Porter was 16); second wife was the former Ruth Olive Williams, married 1946-1986

Children: son Richard, daughters Denise and Debra

Trademark: has become well-known for his elaborately decorated, colorful rhinestone Nudie suits and custom boots, many decorated with wagon wheels; some of the suits are valued at more than $10,000

Early performances: young Porter would get up on a stump outside the old family farm house and put on “shows” for his sisters; he would pretend he was on the Grand Ole Opry, introducing Roy Acuff; then he’d turn and pretend to be Roy Acuff and sing an Acuff tune

First public apearance: age 10; his older sister Lorraine blackmailed him into performing by threatening to tell their mother Porter was smoking cigarettes

Personal hero: his older brother Glenn Lee, who died in 1942 at the age of 18; Glenn Lee was both his musical and personal mentor

First guitar: his mother ordered him an $8 National guitar from Montgomery Ward, and Porter paid for it with money earned from trapping rabbits; he still has the guitar

Early break: Porter was working as a grocery clerk in a meat department when his boss heard him playing his guitar on the job; the boss liked it so much he decided to sponsor a 15-minute radio show, three days a week, starring Porter

National exposure: after moving to radio station KWTO in Springfield, Mo., he became part of the televised Ozark Jubilee; signed a recording contract with RCA in 1953

Career break: 1960; after a few successful singles in the ’50s, the Chattanooga Medicine Co. chose him to host a 30-minute syndicated TV show; he stayed with the show for 20 years and discovered the talents of Norma Jean and Dolly Parton, his two most famous “girl singers”; it was the longest-running country music show on television

Grand Ole Opry: became a member in 1957; he’s now the host

Spare time: fishing; Porter has his boat equipped with black lights to help him fish better at night — he designed the Nighthawk fishing boat for a Tennessee-based company; he calls it “the first of its kind in the world”

Grammys: All with The Blackwood Brothers — Best Sacred Recording (Musical) (1966); Best Gospel Performance (1967 and 1969)

CMA awards: Vocal Group of the Year (1968, with Dolly Parton); Vocal Duo of the Year (1970-1971, with Dolly Parton)

Billboard Top 5 singles: “A Satisfied Mind” (No. 1, 1955); “Eat, Drink and Be Merry (Tomorrow You’ll Cry)” (No. 3, 1955); “Misery Loves Company” (No. 1, 1962); “Sorrow on the Rocks” (No. 5, 1964); “Green, Green Grass of Home” (No. 4, 1965); “Skid Row Joe” (No. 3, 1965); “The Cold Hard Facts of Life” (No. 2, 1967); “We’ll Get Ahead Someday” (No. 5, 1968); “The Carroll County Accident” (No. 2, 1968); “Big Wind” (No. 3, 1969); “Just Someone I Used To Know” (No. 5, 1969, with Dolly Parton); “If Teardrops Were Pennies” (No. 3, 1973, with Dolly Parton); “Please Don’t Stop Loving Me” (No. 1, 1974, with Dolly Parton); “Say Forever You’ll Be Mine” (No. 5, 1975); “Making Plans” (No. 2, 1980, with Dolly Parton)


First Nudie suit: Nudie approached Porter after a concert in Greenville, Mo., proposing to brighten up Porter’s show with some flashier clothes. Porter was only making $50 a night and the suit cost $350, so Nudie made the custom-tailored suit for free; Porter says, “It was the darndest-looking thing I’d ever seen. It was a peach-colored suit with rhinestones, wagon wheels, cactus — all kinds of different embroidery. It was breathtaking!”

photo by Larry Hill

Daily Dose

Thomas Rhett Will Never Take Touring for Granted

Thomas Rhett Will Never Take Touring for Granted

Thomas Rhett is ready to hit the road and Bring The Bar To You in 2022!

Starting in June, Thomas will kick-off his Bring The Bar To You tour with back to back shows in Gilford, New Hampshire with openers Parker McCollum and Conner Smith.

After going through the last two years, Thomas says, “I’ll never take for granted being able to come see y’all and I’m so fired up to play some of these new ones that were made with these nights in mind. I have a feeling things are going to get loud – I’m counting down the days already!”

Photo Courtesy of Thomas Rhett