IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Dierks Bentley to join Grand Ole Opry

Marty Stuart extends invitation to star on stage during performance
/ Source: The Associated Press

He sure wasn't thinkin' 'bout an invitation to the Grand Ole Opry.

Country singer Dierks Bentley — who had a signature hit a couple of years ago with "What Was I Thinkin'" — was in the middle of a show Tuesday at the House of Blues in Los Angeles when he got word that he was chosen to join the cast of the venerable radio show.

According to Opry spokeswoman Jessie Schmidt, the invitation went down like this:

Opry veteran Marty Stuart walked on stage about an hour into Bentley's set and said, "Will you do it ... will you marry the Grand Ole Opry?"

"Hell, yeah!" Bentley answered.

Bentley then had a hard time getting through his next song.

"This is the greatest night of my life," he told the crowd. "I had no idea what was going on."

Bentley's formal induction will be Oct. 1.

An Arizona native, Bentley, 29, released his self-titled debut album in 2003 and hit paydirt with "What Was I Thinkin'" — a humorous, uptempo song about a guy who couldn't resist running off with a girl in a "little white tank top" despite her shotgun-toting daddy.

His follow-up album, "Modern Day Drifter," came out this year and debuted at No. 1, producing the hit single "Lot of Leavin' Left To Do."

"Dierks has come a long way in a short period of time," said Opry General Manager Pete Fisher. "Despite his very heavy touring schedule, he's made a personal commitment to be at the Opry as much as he can."

Bentley, who writes or co-writes most his songs, is regarded in Nashville as a neo-traditionalist who's paid his dues. He moved to Nashville at 19 and immersed himself in the music scene, performing at writer's nights, parties and bars. He has a soft spot for bluegrass music, recording a song called "Good Man Like Me" with the Del McCoury Band for his latest album.

While he struggled to establish himself, Bentley worked a day job at the old The Nashville Network (TNN) that broadcast the Opry shows. Fisher recalled having to "speak with him about limiting his backstage visits."

"Those many visits were the early signs for a special connection that Dierks continues to share with the Opry family," Fisher said.

The Opry, which turns 80 this year, is the longest continuously running radio show in the country. Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Roy Acuff, Johnny Cash, Kitty Wells, Bill Monroe and Elvis Presley are among the thousands who have performed and become stars there. Today, contemporary stars such as Alan Jackson, Martina McBride and Trace Adkins are members.