23 Years Ago: Steve Wariner Joins the Grand Ole Opry
May 11, 1996, is a day that Steve Wariner will likely never forget: It was on that date, 23 years ago today, that the Indiana native officially became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Wariner's path to joining the hallowed venue was a lengthy one: He first made his debut at the Opry when it was being held at the Ryman Auditorium. At the time, Wariner was 17 years old and playing bass for Dottie West, who was already a member. West had discovered Wariner when she saw him performing with a band in Indianapolis.
Wariner's guitar prowess also got him a job playing for Bob Luman, followed by a stint playing for Chet Atkins, Wariner's hero. Wariner got to play the Grand Ole Opry with Atkins as well, all while dreaming of his own debut as a solo artist.
Atkins signed Wariner to his label, RCA Records, in 1976, but it wasn't until five years later, at the end of 1981, that the singer-songwriter earned his first No. 1 hit, "All Roads Lead to You," from his eponymous sophomore record. By the time of Wariner's Opry induction, he had enjoyed a succession of Top 10 hits, including "Lonely Women Make Good Lovers," "What I Didn't Do" and "The Tips of My Fingers," as well as several more chart-topping hits, including "Some Fools Never Learn," "You Can Dream of Me" and "The Weekend."
The year 1996 was a big one for Wariner: In addition to becoming an official member of the Grand Ole Opry, he also released his first instrumental album, No More Mr. Nice Guy, with guest performances by Atkins, Vince Gill, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Bryan White, Lee Roy Parnell and rocker Richie Sambora, among others. No More Mr. Nice Guy also marked Wariner's first time producing one of his albums by himself.
Wariner remains one of the most frequent performers at the Grand Ole Opry. A complete Opry schedule can be found on their website.
The Grand Ole Opry Through the Years