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And they did not use drums! Dacus spent the next six years with The Texas Playboys, leaving in when they decided to move their home base to California. But these bands had yet to make their presence felt outside of their territory and closer to the heart of country music in Nashville and on The Grand Ole Opry.
Launched in by radio announcer-turned-producer George D. Hay, the Opry was by far the best known and most influential country music program. This involved presenting artists as caricatures, dressing in overalls and straw hats. More critically, he stayed faithful to the drum-free fiddle-and-string-band format that was core to his concept of country music.
Pee Wee King circa When The Playboys arrived and began setting up their equipment, alarmed Opry staffers instructed them to play without their drummer, Monte Mountjoy.
Not surprisingly, that was their last as well as their first appearance on the Opry. But what really mattered that night was that drums had been played on the Opry stage, in the heart of country music. And things were never quite the same after that. It began not as a torrent but more of a trickle, as Nashville-based country stars began adding kits to their bands or to studio dates. Owen Bradley, a vital architect in mainstream country music as producer and pianist, welcomed drummer Farris Coursey into his dance band in the early s.
But traditionalists remained skeptical about drums, which had come to symbolize the threat they sensed from early rock and roll. There were some drums allowed into the Opry during this period. But outside of this novelty act, artists were initially cleared to use only snare drums. When Carl Smith brought drummer Buddy Harman onto the show in , management insisted that he play behind that notorious Opry curtain on snare only.
Later, a member of the Opry staff, Harold Weakley, was made available to guest artists as a snare drummer. When not undertaking other duties that included preparing chord charts, completing paperwork for the Musicians Union, filing payroll, and doing occasional announcing during commercials for longtime sponsor Goo-Goo Cluster, Weakley could frequently be heard playing brushes or light backbeats, but was not seen as he remained behind that same curtain Bob Wills had confronted.Sign Up With Email. Sign Up. or.