The first time I played the Opry I almost lost my black Emmons. Sonny, Hal and Weldon, the staff steel players, all had black ones too, and I was so nervous I had a little trouble finding mine when I ran onto the stage (you don’t get much time) to play the intro to “Don’t Be Angry”.
Another night at the Opry a bunch of us steel players decided to reconvene on Broadway at Deemen’s Den and pick a little, so we all hustled off after our spots. At the “new” Opry (new at the time, on Briley Pkwy.) there’s a long sidewalk leading from the parking lot to the artists’ entrance, and pickers would pull up and trundle their stuff in past Mr. Bell at the desk to their dressing room and then go move their car. Danny Tyack, who was working with Donna Fargo, I think, came with us and when he double-parked on 4th and opened his trunk it was empty. Well, shit, he’d left his steel at the Opry at the end of the sidewalk. So we all had a big laugh and played thirty or forty choruses of “C-Jam Blues” while he went back to get it.
At the Wembley (or Wemberley, as they say in Nashville) Festival in London we all stayed in the Royal Lancaster Arms Hotel. Remember when you were a kid and you stayed overnight at a friend’s house and you’d stay up late giggling and looking at Playboy magazines until your friend’s mother would holler at you to be quiet and go to sleep? Damnit? Well, it was kinda like that at the Royal Lancaster, except there was alcohol and real live girls involved. Anyway, somebody took Terry Wendt’s steel guitar and hid it in a maid’s closet in one of the interminable hallways, and we had a big time watching him go barmy trying to find it. In all fairness to the beastly miscreants, Terry had earlier started a false rumor that Eric Clapton was gonna stop by to jam with us Nashville pickers, but he still thought it was bloody naff.