Porter Wayne Wagoner (August 12, 1927 – October 28, 2007) was a popular American country music singer known for his flashy Nudie and Manuel suits and blond pompadour.
In 1967, he introduced then-obscure singer Dolly Parton on his long-running television show, and they were a well-known vocal duo throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Known as Mr. Grand Ole Opry, Wagoner charted 81 singles from 1954–1983. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Famein 2002.
His syndicated television program, The Porter Wagoner Show, aired from 1960 to 1981. There were 686 30-minute episodes taped; the first 104 (1960–66) in black-and-whiteand the remainder (1966–81) in color. At its peak, his show was featured in over 100 markets, with an average viewership of over three million. Reruns of the program air on the rural cable network RFD-TV and its sister channel in the UK Rural TV.
The shows usually featured opening performances by Wagoner with performances by Norma Jean, or later Parton, and comedic interludes by Rhodes. During Parton's tenure, she and Wagoner usually sang a duet (Wagoner did not perform any duets with Norma Jean). Each episode also featured a guest who would usually perform one or two songs. A spiritual or gospel performance was almost always featured toward the end of the show; generally performed by either Wagoner or Parton, or the show's guest star, or occasionally the entire cast. After Dolly left the show, Porter began taping the show at Opryland USA in various locations around the park.
The shows had a friendly, informal feel, with Wagoner trading jokes with band members (frequently during songs) and exchanging banter with Parton and Howser. In 1974, Dolly Parton's song "I Will Always Love You", written about her professional break from Wagoner, went to number one on the country music charts.
Wagoner's stage alter ego was Skid Row Joe. The cast included:
- Singer Norma Jean (1960–1965)
- Singer Jeannie Seely (1965–1966)
- Singer Dolly Parton (1966–1974)
- Singer Barbara Lea (1974–1976)
- Singer Linda Carol Moore (1976–1978)
- Singer Mel Tillis (1968 regular)
- Comedian/stand-up bass Curly Harris (1960–mid-60s)
- Announcer Don Howser
- Don Warden on steel guitar
- "Little" Jack Little on fiddle
- Benny Williams on banjo and guitar (1961)
- Speck Rhodes Comedian/stand-up bass
- Buck Trent on banjo and guitar
- George McCormick on rhythm guitar
- Mack Magaha on fiddle
- Ray Downs on rhythm guitar and vocal
- Michael Treadwell on bass guitar
- Bruce Osborn - lead guitar
- Fred Newell on banjo/guitar/mandolin
- Dave Kirby on guitar
- Stu Basor on steel guitar/dobro
- Bobby Dyson on bass
- Jerry Carrigan on drums
- Mack Magaha on fiddle