After performing alongside Opry member Bill Anderson, Johnson was informed by Anderson that “Opry management told me to tell you that this is going to be your last guest appearance.” Johnson responded, “I’ve been kicked out of a whole lot of places in my life.”
Anderson then informed Johnson, “The next time you appear on this stage you will be the newest member of our Opry cast and family!”
— Grand Ole Opry (@opry) March 20, 2022
While it’s been nearly a decade since Johnson released a studio album — and even longer since his last LP of original music, 2010’s The Guitar Song — the singer has been a frequent guest on the Opry stage, appearing a handful of times every year since his Opry debut.
Following the surprise announcement Saturday, Anderson reminded Johnson that he actually had to accept the invitation. “I accepted it 20 years ago! I really don’t know what to say except the obvious,” Johnson added. “I love country music. I would have never moved here if it wasn’t for that; for the Opry keeping it alive and for the fans. I love you. Thank you.”
Johnson — who capped off the evening by performing his 2008 hit “In Color” — will formally be inducted into the Opry on a later date.
In 2021, Johnson spoke to Rolling Stone about why — despite touring regularly — he’s taken such a long break between studio albums. “I don’t need to put out an album, and I know some people do put out albums every year,” Johnson said.
“But I only want to put out an album if it’s going to be good, if it’s going to be something that I want to go out and play every night. And if I’ve got those songs, then I have no reason not to put it out. But in the absence of that, I don’t see why I would. You know, I wouldn’t waste everybody’s time and attention to come hear the newest bucket of crap.”