On This Day: Randy Travis Makes Grand Ole Opry Debut in 1986

by Clayton Edwards

Randy Travis is one of the most successful country music artists in history. He released several albums that gold or platinum. He also landed 29 singles in the top 10. Over half of those singles hit the number-one spot on the country chart. On this day in 1986, Randy Travis took the hallowed Grand Ole Opry stage for the first time.

It was just three months before he released his first album, “Storms of Life,” that would go on to be a landmark album for country music. He was introduced to the enthusiastic crowd, and listeners across the country, by Opry legend Little Jimmy Dickens. That night, Travis performed the Hank Williams classic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” according to The Boot.

Randy Travis Makes His Grand Ole Opry Debut

Looking back, it’s amazing to think about Randy Travis covering that classic tune in such an iconic setting. He was just months away from being one of the biggest stars in country music. Currently, he has one of the most tragic tales in a genre full of tragedy.

Even though Travis survived after suffering a massive stroke in 2013, it’s easy to draw a parallel between him and Hank Sr. They were both incredible talents who had a lasting impact on country music. They’re both still fan-favorites. Unfortunately, both of their careers ended much too soon. If you look back at that night with the right kind of eyes, you can see the magic working on that Grand Ole Opry stage.

The folks at the Opry must have seen it. Because, in December of that same year, they invited Randy Travis to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. That night, he was introduced by the bluegrass star and all-around legend Ricky Skaggs. Travis didn’t perform a classic cover that night. Instead, he performed his own number-one hit song “Diggin’ Up Bones,” for the Opry crowd.

While no footage from that night is readily available on the web, there is a great video of Randy Travis performing the same song at the Grand Ole Opry in 1992. It’s enough to give you chills. Between his golden baritone vocals and his interactions with the crowd, it’s easy to see why Travis is still a favorite of country music fans today.