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R.I.P. Porter Wagoner

Country Standard Time Editorial, November 2007

The late Porter Wagoner was a true legend. The man from West Plains, Mo. contributed to the growth of country music in many ways.

Of course, he enjoyed many hits starting in 1954. His first number 1 was "A Satisfied Mind," which was perched at the top for 4 weeks in 1955. The hits continued with songs like "Misery Loves Company," "The Cold Hard Facts of Life," and "Please Don't Stop Loving Me." He spurred on the careers of Patty Loveless and later introduced Dolly Parton to the country world.

His spoken recitations proved unique, showing he would sometimes operate outside the box.

Wagoner also demonstrated the power of television as a medium with "The Porter Wagoner" show, which had a long run in syndication.

Wagoner was known for his colorful, dare we say gaudy, outfits, taking dress in country music a few steps beyond. He obviously had a sense of humor, albeit sometimes corny (to wit, opening his jacket and revealing the words "Hi" on the inside) and knew what show business was all about.

Interestingly enough, Wagoner became hip again at the end of his life. He released "The Wagonmaster" in June on an edgy, non-country label, Anti-. Marty Stuart, a true student of country music history and renaissance man, produced this very fine album, helping introduce Wagoner to a new generation of music lovers.

At his funeral at the Grand Ole Opry (extremely appropriate given his 50 years at the home of country music), Vince Gill, Patty Loveless and Ricky Skaggs delivered a powerful version of Gill's "Go Rest High on That Mountain."

Wagoner will do just that based on his life and contributions to country music and the joy he brought many fans.

Porter Wagoner was country music tried and true. He will be missed, but remembered for the good he did for the music he loved.