Opry Manager Durham Dies

Hal Durham, who helped guide the Grand Ole Opry into the modern era, died over the March 28 weekend at his home in Florida, The Tennessean reported.

Durham, 77, began a 15-year run as the Opry’s general manager in 1978. The Tennessee native reacted to the genre’s popularity by allowing full drum sets onstage and relaxing membership requirements, which allowed artists with busy tour commitments to become Opry members without making multiple appearances each month.

Some of Durham’s biggest signings as Opry members were Garth Brooks, Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs and Reba McEntire. Durham also had a stint as an announcer and exec at WSM, the Opry’s radio home.