1) One of country music’s greatest radio voices and most noted historians, Eddie Stubbs, has announced his retirement from WSM and the Grand Ole Opry. I first met Eddie when he was on the air at WAMU in Washington, D.C., and encouraged him to come to Nashville. He is a dear friend and my personal go-to guy when I have a question relating to anything country. All of us at the Opry wish him and his wife, Debbie, nothing but happiness as they open a new chapter in their lives. 2) John Berry and I performed “Don’t Think I Ain’t Country” together one time on the Opry, and we were both thrilled when it rose to #1 recently on the Christian Country Music charts. 3) I first met Robbie Wittkowski when he was around 12-years old and I brought him on stage to sing with me in Des Moines, Iowa. He came to work as my tour manager and director of merchandise years later. Nobody loved the music or the fans any more than Robbie did, and those of you who knew him loved him back. Rest in peace, my friend. We will miss you.
“The Chick-fil-A restaurant in Hermitage, Tennessee, devoted an entire day to my grandson, Gabe, back on April 10th, outfitting their employees in specially made Team Gabe t-shirts and donating a percentage of their profits that day to the family’s medical expenses. They urged the community to come together in supporting Gabe’s upcoming transplant procedure, a kind and generous gesture by a wonderful company. Many of our longtime fan club members will remember Cathy Cox who worked in my office back in the late sixties and early seventies. Cathy’s mom, Frances Cox, was my fan club president for several years and contributed so much to my early career. I hadn’t seen Cathy (now Cathy Allen) in over 40-years, but she recently flew to Nashville from her home in Colorado to spend a long weekend, and I had the pleasure of meeting her for lunch. Needless to say, we relived a lot of old memories. And speaking of memories, how about this old picture of me and Roy Acuff from back in the sixties? He was one of my musical heroes, but neither of us dreamed when this picture was taken that we would end up recording together a timeless song called, “I Wonder If God Likes Country Music.” Mr. Roy’s legacy will live forever at the Grand Ole Opry.”
“I was both surprised and honored when I learned that Connie Smith’s recording of my song, ‘Once A Day,’ has been selected for inclusion inside the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress in Washington. Although it’s her recording that is being preserved, they included my name on the plaque as having written the song. I’m in some pretty select company here, and both proud and grateful. I’m grateful, too, for the toughness my grandson, Gabe, has shown in completing his five weeks of radiation therapy prior to his bone marrow transplant coming up in May. They gave him the certificate he is holding here as proof of his “graduation,” and the smile on his face tells you how proud he is of his achievement. In case you haven’t figured it out, Gabe is my hero. Another special person in my life is pictured in the bottom photo, the guitar player in my band since 1981, Les Singer. It’s hard to believe Les has been with me for 40-years, but he has. I love this picture, and wanted to share it with you. Thanks, Lester, for all the miles, the music and the memories.”
“My grandson, Blake, and I were all smiles after his team’s victory in the regional high school basketball tournament recently. He sure makes me look short, doesn’t he? Of course, a lot of his height comes from his hair which his mother keeps begging him to cut. Like many athletes, though, Blake is superstitious, and he said that as long as his team was winning and he was playing well, he wasn’t going to cut his hair. You can really see how long it’s grown in the middle picture where he’s fighting to keep the ball out of his opponents’ hands. In the last picture, Lance Miller, Bobby Tomberlin, and I looked like we’re out to rob a bank, but we’re just masked-up and hanging out at a songwriting session. It had been a year since the three of us had written together, and it sure was fun. Hopefully, you’ll hear the song we created one of these days. Lance and Bobby are two of my favorite people to write and spend time with.”