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  • Country Legend Porter Wagoner Dies

    Mon, 29 Oct 2007 10:14:42

    Country Legend Porter Wagoner Dies   - Country musician was a Grand Ole Opry institution

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    Famed country star Porter Wagoner died from lung cancer Sunday, October 28, in Nashville, TN. He was 80 years old. A mainstay at the world-famous Grand Ole Opry, Wagoner was known almost as much for his flashy rhinestone suits as for his string of country hits in the 1960s. He wrote or co-wrote a number of popular songs including, "Company's Comin'," Skid Row Joe," Misery Loves Company" and "Green Grass of Home." Wagoner is also widely credited with launching the career of Dolly Parton, who he hired to be his duet partner in 1967 when she was just 21 years old.

    A younger generation of fans was recently introduced to Wagoner and his music with the release of his last album, Wagonmaster, in June of this year. After years without a label he released the album on Anti- records, garnering some of the best reviews of his career. He even teamed with The White Stripes as their opening act at a sold-out show at New York's Madison Square Garden.

    Born in West Plains, MO, Wagoner began his career in radio, before becoming a regular on the Ozark Jubilee, a nationally televised country music show. Known as "The Thin Man From West Plains" because of his lanky build, he joined the Opry in 1957, where his bejeweled, handmade suits became a trademark. "Rhinestone suits are just beautiful under the lights," he said. "They've become a big part of my career. I get more compliments on my outfits than any other entertainer— except for Liberace."

    He had a small part in the 1982 Clint Eastwood movie Honky Tonk Man and continued to perform at the Opry even though his recording career went into decline in the 1980s. "I stopped making records because I didn't like the way they were wanting me to record," he said. "When RCA dropped me from the label, I didn't really care about making records for another label because I didn't have any say in what they would release and how they would make the records and so forth."

    Pete Fisher, vice president and general manager of the Opry, expressed his sadness at Wagoner's passing saying, "His passion for the Opry and all of country music was truly immeasurable."

    —The ARTISTdirect Staff

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