On This Day: Late Country Star Hal Ketchum Inducted into Grand Ole Opry 27 Years Ago

by Suzanne Halliburton
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Let’s take a moment to remember the late Hal Ketchum and one of his happiest career moments — his induction onto the Grand Ole Opry.

Hal Ketchum enjoyed the acclaim 27 years ago today.

Hal Ketchum died in November, three days before Thanksgiving. He was only 67. His wife, Andrea, said Ketchum died of complications from early-onset dementia.

In confirming the sad news of her husband’s passing, Andrea Ketchum wrote: “May his music live on forever in your hearts and bring you peace.”

The music of Hal Ketchum does live on, along with his terrific memories and nights like the induction into the Grand Ole Opry in 1994.

Hal Ketchum said of the Opry: “There is an indescribable place on that stage where it feels like you are a part of history, a very fine history. And I really like that a lot. I felt the magic of the Opry the first time, and, so, I came to it in amazement.”

Hal Ketchum First Found Success In Austin Before Moving to Nashville

Hal Ketchum found success on the Austin club scene in the 1980s. He signed with Curb Record and moved to Nashville in 1991, becoming one of the breakout country stars of early 90s country music.

His first album in Nashville was “Past the Point of Rescue.” And one of the singles off the album still is his greatest success — “Small Town Saturday Night.”

Have a listen to some vintage Hal Ketchum. It’s Friday. It’s almost the weekend. You know it’s time for a song about Saturday.

https://youtu.be/ekW_gV75wN4

The album went gold and produced two other top singles. “Past The Point of Rescue” also reached No. 2 on the charts, with “I Know Where Love Lives” hitting No. 13.

Ketchum Was Riding High Coming Into Opry

Hal Ketchum and his follow up album “Sure Love” enjoyed three singles that hit the top 10. They were “Sure Love,” “Hearts Are Gonna Roll” and “Mama Knows The Highway.”

So Hal Ketchum was hot coming into his induction into the Opry. Country icon Little Jimmy Dickens inducted Ketchum. He was the lone add to the Opry in 1994.

Ketchum enjoyed a mostly terrific decade. But then his health started failing. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998. Ketchum said the condition made him suffer partial paralysis and blindness. He also went through bouts of depression.

Hal Ketchum moved back to Texas. He and his wife were living in a 130-year-old grist mill in the Hill Country. Ketchum was a renaissance man. In addition to singing and songwriting, Ketchum painted and worked as a carpenter. He restored the grist mill.

Ketchum was creating music again, before he was diagnosed with dementia.

He gave an interview to “Texas Monthly” in 2014 to talk about his musical resurgence.

“But I feel great right now, man,” Ketchum said. “I got my mobility back, and that’s what led me to try and get back to this point. I was living in a cabin in Wimberley (Texas) and I just started writing these songs. And I thought they were good enough to hear. They really started coming back to me.”

He added: “I’m just happy to be playing again, and most importantly, I’ve got my hands back. I’m actually playing decent enough rhythm guitar to be in my own band now, so that’s a good thing I think.” 

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