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One of My Heroes, Porter Wagoner Has Lung Cancer

Posted: Oct 24, 2007

October 24, 2007

I was really taken aback to hear Country Music Hall of Famer Porter Wagoner has been diagnosed with lung cancer. To me, Porter is one of the last of the true country music superstars. He hangs right in the same category as Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and George Jones.

According to a media release, Wagoner was admitted to the hospital last Monday. On Tuesday, his family released a statement that he was hospitalized and under observation. On Thursday, the family released another statement that  he was in serious condition and asked friends and fans to pray for him.

On Friday, Wagoner's former duet partner Dolly Parton sent a letter to Grand Ole Opry Vice President and General Manager Pete Fisher. The letter said she had visited Wagoner that day and that he was "in good spirits… weak and not feeling great, but feeling much better he said. He wanted to thank everybody for their thoughts and prayers. He's looking forward to getting better and getting back to the Grand Ole Opry. I promised him I'd sing with him his first night back!"

I remember The Porter Wagoner Show on TV. My Mother and I would watch it every Saturday to hear Porter and Dolly Parton and all the rest of the gang. Porter has always been known for his "Nudie" style suits, adorned with flashy sequins and bright colors. I recall Porter's specialty came in the form of recitations, like "Jenny's Afraid of the Dark," tear jerking stories told over a bed of somber music. Good stuff.

One night back when I was a teenager, I saw Porter and Dolly at a gas station and Porter was filling the tank on a Cadillac. They were playing the old Greenville Memorial Auditorium that night, and obviously Porter had driven himself down from Nashville in the Caddy. I went over and spoke, hoping not to get my feelings hurt by a superstar who could have crushed my shy teenage spirit with one mean word.

"Hello," I said. "I am a big fan of the both of you."

Porter grinned the world's biggest grin, and reached out and shook my hand.

"Thanks son," we appreciate you coming over to tell us that.

Dolly got out of the car and gave be a big hug. The sweetest lady ever. After she became a huge mega-star and movie star, I would tell my friends about my "Dolly hug," and they would accuse me of lying, or make some off color breast joke. No matter. I had shared a moment with Porter and Dolly no one could ever take from me.

Get well Porter. There's still a lot of good music in you. The whole Swampland family will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

Keep it Real. Keep it Southern.


Porter and Dolly from his old TV show.

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