Friends Mourn Opry Legend

This appeared on - November 3, 2007

The country music world is mourning the death of one of its legends.

Porter Wagoner died Sunday night in Nashville of lung cancer. His career spanned five decades. He had a popular TV show for 21 years and gave Dolly Parton the break that made her a household name.

Entertainers such as Marty Stuart said country music has lost one of its greats.

"It absolutely floored me," Stuart said about the first time he saw Wagoner perform. "It was one of the most beautiful visions I had ever seen. He had that peroxide pompadour Dolly and all her Dolliness, and all those guys wearing those costumes. It was a beautiful vision."

Stuart and Wagoner became great friends. Stuart owns several of his costumes that made such an impression all those years ago. Last year, the pair worked on Wagoner's last recording.

"I watched him march back from the brink of death, to the microphone, to a victory lap," Stuart said.

Stuart produced his comeback album, Wagonmaster, which put Wagoner back in the spotlight this past summer.

"He really was right on top of a great victory lap," he said.

In May, Wagoner celebrated his golden anniversary celebration at the Grand Ole Opry, which he loved so much.

"He not only talked it, but it walked it," said Pete Fisher, Grand Ole Opry general manager. "This man dedicated 50 years of his life to the show."

He helped make the Opry what it is today.

"Through his true passion for what he did with his music, his legacy will live on forever," Fisher said.

"When Porter died, it was like a piece of me died with him," said Parton in a statement released Monday. "We were always so attached musically and emotionally."

Parton was 21 when she joined Wagoner's television show. The pair won the Country Music Association's Duo of the Year award in 1970 and 1971.

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