On Oct. 15, 1960, country legend Loretta Lynn made her Grand Ole Opry debut 60 years ago to the day as an anxious 28-year-old as she went on to become one of country music’s most famous singers.
Lynn and her husband, Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn, made the drive all the way from their home in Washington State to Nashville, TN. On their way to the Opry, they made stops across the country to promote Lynn’s first single, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl.”
The couple self-promoted her debut single by mailing copies to radio stations. However, they took the promotion one step further. They followed up by making personal visits to the radio stations during their trip to Nashville.
Finally, after days of traveling, Lynn and her husband made it to Nashville the night before her Opry debut. In fact, the singer didn’t even know she was booked to play the Opry until they arrived. Lynn’s humble beginnings were highlighted by the fact that the couple spent the night in their car before her first performance at the famous venue.
“He’d parked it in front of the Grand Ole Opry, and I didn’t know he’d done that. “I woke up and seen the Grand Ole Opry,” Lynn said in 2014 to the Tennessean newspaper. “I could not believe I was sleeping over from the Grand Ole Opry, but that’s where we were, sleeping in the car.”
Loretta Lynn Didn’t Remember Singing, Only Patting Her Foot
During Lynn’s performance, she played her recently released “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” for the Opry crowd. Yet, Lynn would later admit that she did not remember much from the historical performance. All she could recall was tapping her foot to the music.
“My first memory I have of the Grand Ole Opry was, when I went out to sing, I remember patting my foot, and that’s it,” she explained. “I don’t remember even singing. I was so excited, I don’t remember singing. But I remember patting my foot.
“Isn’t that weird? I thought it was weird,” Lynn joked as she continued. “I went offstage and thought, ‘I forgot to listen to myself sing!'”
Lynn’s performance went over so well that management of the Opry took notice immediately. They signed her up for a following 17 more shows, which broke an Opry record.
The country icon and her husband moved their family to Nashville not long after her Opry success. She started making music under Decca Records and her legendary career took off from there. Only two years after Lynn’s Opry debut, she was inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry in September of 1962.
[H/T Taste of Country]