Singer Mark Wills, who topped the country chart with hits including “Wish You Were Here” and “19 Somethin’” will usher in 2019 as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. Longtime Opry member Vince Gill issued the invitation to a visibly moved Wills, who dropped to his knees before tearfully accepting the honor.
“This boy has been the greatest supporter and proponent of what the Opry stands for,” Gill said. Wills, who first played the Opry in 1996 at the beginning of his career, closed the show by singing his emotionally charged 1998 hit “Don’t Laugh at Me” while other members of the Opry family joined him onstage.
Also receiving special recognition during Friday night’s show was Opry staff musician Jimmy Capps, who celebrated his 60th anniversary of Opry performances. Capps, a member of the Musicians Hall of Fame, first played the Opry as a teenager with the Louvin Brothers in December 1958 before going on to work with the Opry band. In recognition of his six decades of Grand Ole Opry performances, Opry members Marty Stuart and Vince Gill revealed that the band room at the Grand Ole Opry House has officially been named the Jimmy Capps Music Room.
As a guitarist, Capps was a highly prized member of Nashville’s so-called “A-Team” of studio musicians, backing dozens of musicians from the Fifties through the Seventies and beyond, from Elvis Presley to Patsy Cline to Bob Dylan. Capps played on scores of country standards, including “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “Stand By Your Man,” “Elvira” and “The Gambler,” and was joined by his Opry bandmates in a medley of those songs and more during the segment recognizing his longevity.
Mark Wills’ Opry induction is set for Friday, January 11th.