We had a chance to see what is called the “Mother Church of Country Music”, the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN. This was also a huge stop to see anything and everything about Roy Acuff. On the surface, this may sound like just another Jack Ringca music geek blog but, the honest truth is that this was all about the down home history of american yoyo.
The Ryman is arguably the most remembered and most beloved home of the Grand Ole Opry, and Acuff was a member of the Opry cast starting in 1938 and continuing on for about the next forty years. He was the first person inducted into the Country Music Hall of fame and through it all, Roy threw a mean yo-yo. Not only could he throw, he also kept the yo-yo as a primary part of his act on up through the end of his life.
When we entered the Ryman, we were greeted by a bronze statue of Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl. Even the statue of Roy has been detailed with a yo-yo string hanging out of his pocket. And there are periodically Acuff tribute shows that involve yo-yos as well as music at the Ryman.
Only adding the yo-yo history of the Ryman and Acuff, this was the place that Roy gave a yo-yo lesson to then president, Richard Nixon. This is still some of the most sought after and licensed footage from the archives of the Opry. It also led to Acuff’s Nixon autographed yo-yo becoming the most expensive yo-yo ever purchased at $16,029.00 during Acuff’s estate auction.
I was also given the chance to sing on the stage that Acuff and so many greats(new and old) have stood, sang and played. It was humbling, to say the least. There is nothing like the sound of a great hall to make your voice sound like it has real strength. I didn’t want it to end.
As a sign of respect, we also visited the grave of Roy Acuff and felt it was the right thing to do to leave a yo-yo instead of flowers to a man that did so much for music, culture and yo-yo awareness. It was a heavy experience and completely worth it. A big thank you goes out to Mark Allen for being our guide at the Ryman and the auditorium management and staff. They made it an incomparable experience.