Monday, October 29, 2007
– Dolly Parton, whose career took off after Porter Wagoner hired her to sing, spent time with the late singer Sunday just hours before he died.
"I went over on Sunday afternoon and spent his last few hours with Porter and his family, so I was able to say goodbye," said Parton in a prepared statement. "I sang for him and prayed with him. It felt good that I had the opportunity to say goodbye properly. His family is very grateful to everyone for all their help."
Marty Stuart, who produced Wagoner's last disc, "The Wagonmaster," said, "Losing Porter is going to take a whole lot of getting used to as he's been a part of my life for so long. I grew up watching his television show in Mississippi, and it was as if he were a member of our family. After I got to know him, he was."
"He was a masterful showman, who understood the art of the final act. He left the world on top. Some of the things that soften the blow of his passing are all the memories from the past year. We made a wonderful record together that got him lots of acclaim, he celebrated his 50th anniversary with the Grand Ole Opry, he had a new generation of kids in love with him and his music, the awards were coming, the Martin Guitar Company had named a guitar in his honor and he was asked to light the nation's Christmas tree at the Pageant of Peace celebration in Washington, D.C. next month. One of the last things he said to me was, "You're gonna' have to call the President and tell him I won't be able to sing him any Christmas songs this year. Maybe next year."
Singer Patty Loveless referred to Wagoner as "my mentor in the early years of my musical journey and over the years became like family to me. He encouraged me and helped me to fulfill my dreams and was truly and inspiration. I love him and I miss him already."
Dierks Bentley visited Wagoner last Tuesday in the hospital. He said Wagoner "led us in a prayer. He thanked God for friends, family and the Grand Ole Opry."
"This is a great loss for country music and the Grand Ole Opry. It's also a great loss for me personally because he was a friend I was really just getting to know. I feel blessed for the time I did have with him."