This “Official Opry History-Picture Book” from 1966 is chock full of wonderful full color photographs of the performers with short bios for each. There’s too much to fit into a single post – so, we’ll cover the ladies first…
I’ve got to give a quick shout-out to m’lady Norma Jean – perhaps the most underrated female country performer from this period. She’d been singing for a long time (with Porter Wagoner on TV) before she hit her stride (in my humble opinion) in the late sixties – early seventies. I picked up a couple of these records on a whim , I Guess That Comes From Being Poor and Body and Mind, and played them to death.
Each performer’s photograph includes a short biography and a few B&W pictures – such as this picture of Loretta and her alcoholic husband Doo (AKA Mooney). She married him when she was 13 years old (he was 21). From her autobiography:
Doo was a good man and a hard worker. But he was an alcoholic, and it affected our marriage all the way through. He was also a womanizer. Cheating husbands have been all over the news talk shows for a few years now. Lots of women say they don’t understand why women stay with them dogs. My story is about one who did—me.
Lou Reed has said that her “End of the World” is among the greatest recordings of all time. I can’t argue with that.
I could do without the ascots, fellas. The girl on the right has quite the tower of hair.
At this time (1966) June was already in a relationship with Johnny Cash; they’d met backstage at the Grand Ole Opry eleven years prior (1955). In ’66 Cash’s first wife filed for divorce due to drug and alcohol abuse, and his close relationship with June. The two married in 1968. June passed away in May 2003, and Johnny died just a few months later.