Musician Charlie McCoy Receives Rare Honor With Induction Into the Grand Ole Opry

by Jim Casey

Charlie McCoy officially joined the Grand Ole Opry on July 13. And while the Opry typically bestows the honor on a few artists each year, it’s a rare feat for a pure musician to join the esteemed organization. Of course, Charlie is no ordinary musician. The Country Music Hall of Fame inducted the skilled multi-instrumentalist in 2009.

A member of the famed Nashville Cats, Charlie has performed as a session musician—primary harmonica—on some of the most important songs in history, including George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer,” Waylon Jennings’ “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line,” Dolly Parton’s “Tennessee Mountain Home,” Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It,” Tanya Tucker’s “Delta Dawn,” and thousands more.

Charlie plays a variety of instruments. In addition to harmonica, Charlie is a highly skilled player of bass, guitar, keyboards, percussion, mallet percussion, trumpet, saxophone, and tuba.

Opry Induction

After Vince Gill invited Charlie McCoy to join the Opry in June, Larry Gatlin officially welcomed him on July 13.

“The musicians on this stage are some of the best to have ever made their way to Nashville,” said Larry Gatlin. “You have their love and their utmost respect. We are welcoming you into our home. I am humbled and honored to welcome into our family a friend of 50 years who I think is the greatest musician in the world and the Dean of the Nashville Cats, Charlie McCoy.”

“I’ve been so blessed in my career. And this is icing on the cake,” said Charlie. “And by the way, I ain’t through playin’ yet.”

Charlie concluded his set with his signature tune, “Orange Blossom Special.” Johnny Cash recorded the song on his album of the same name in 1965. And, of course, Charlie’s harmonica work is all over it.

Real Musical McCoy

Of course, Charlie’s induction into the Opry follows a long list of accolades for the 81-year-old. The Country Music Association named him Instrumentalist of the Year in 1972 and 1973. Additionally, he was among the studio players on Bob Dylan’s Nashville albums (Blonde on Blonde, John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline). He also played on the soundtracks to eight Elvis Presley movies.

Charlie can be heard on recordings by Bobby Bare, Tom T. Hall, Merle Haggard, Roy Clark, Charley Pride, Kitty Wells, Eddy Arnold, Willie Nelson, Kitty Wells, and more.

Recent inductees into the Opry include Jamey Johnson (May 2022), Lauren Alaina (February 2022), Mandy Barnett (November 2021), The Isaacs (September 2021), Carly Pearce (August 2021), Lady A (January 2021), and Rhonda Vincent (February 2021).