Who was Porter Wagoner and what did he contribute to music?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Born in 1927 on a farm in the Missouri Ozarks that used mules that pulled the plow, Porter Wagoner sold rabbit pelts to purchase his first mail-order guitar. Wagoner's dream to be on the Grand Ole Opry was realized in his 1955 appearance; later, in 1957, he joined the Opry and opened his first show in 1960. While on the Grand Ole Opry, in 1967, Wagoner introduced Dolly Parton with whom he collaborated on the song "Please Don't Stop Loving Me." Clearly, he helped launch the career of Dollie Parton.

In addition to this song, Wagoner composed 81 singles that made the country charts, 29 of which became"Top-10 Hits." He recorded some of the earliest "concept albums," a group of songs with a theme. He often sang of the "raw emotions" of those who lived difficult lives, frequently employing a speaking voice in an old country technique of recitation. In the 1960s, Wagner received three Grammys for gospel recordings. However, the man in the Nubie Cohn "hillbilly deluxe" suits incurred wrath when he brought James Brown onto the Grand Ole Opry stage in 1979 despite having Brown sing "Your Cheatin' Heart" and another country song.

In 2002, Porter Wagoner was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. At the age of 80, Mr. Wagoner died in 2007. Despite their bitter split that involved six years of legal suits, Dolly Parton was by his bedside.