Country Great Leroy Van Dyke Marks Opry Anniversary

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Leroy Van Dyke photo by GAB Archive and Redferns
Photo: GAB Archive/Redferns

Time-honoured country star Leroy Van Dyke will mark a momentous anniversary in Nashville next week. The artist will appear at the Grand Ole Opry’s Thursday night series Opry Country Classics at the Ryman Auditorium on 19 October. That’s one day short of 55 years since his Opry induction on 20 October 1962. His 1961 smash ‘Walk On By’ (not to be confused with the later Bacharach-David classic of the same name) remains one of the biggest-ever hits on the country chart with 19 weeks at No. 1.

After six decades in the music business, I’m still so proud of the day I became a Grand Ole Opry member, an incredible personal highlight and career milestone,” says Van Dyke, who turned 88 earlier this month. “I have always felt at home among my family, friends and fans there, and I look forward to returning to the Ryman stage where I made my Opry debut and was first introduced as an Opry member.”

Van Dyke, born in Spring Fork, Missouri in 1929, is still performing with his Leroy Van Dyke Country Gold Tour. He opens the shows himself before MCing the remainder of the event with notable hit artists on the bill, accompanied by his seven-piece band. On 28 October, the tour arrives in Shipshewana, Indiana, where he is joined by country celebrities David Frizzell, Lacy J. Dalton and Bobby Bare.

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In August 2016, when Billboard updated its tabulation of the “Greatest All-Time Country Songs” by chart performance, ‘Walk On By’ was named No. 2 of all time. It spent 37 weeks on the countdown in total. Van Dyke, who has recorded more than 500 songs, had already scored a top ten country hit in 1957 with ‘Auctioneer’ and went on to place a total of 19 songs on the chart up until 1977, including 1962’s No. 3 hit ‘If A Woman Answers (Hang Up The Phone).’

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