Country music star Porter Wagoner died on October 28, 2007, at 80 years old. Four years later, we remember his duets with Dolly—and his rhinestone-studded duds. Originally published October 2007 on Obit-Mag.com.
Like a rhinestone cowboy, Porter Wagoner was a mainstay on the Grand Ole Opry stage for much of the 1960s and '70s. He charted more than 81 country singles, 29 of which landed in the top ten.
Above and beyond his ridiculous accoutrements—a six-inch high pompadour, dozens of rhinestone-studded Nudie suits, and a strange amalgamation of country boy charm and Nashville bravado—Wagoner will be remembered for helping discover and promote a young Dolly Parton. They partnered to record and perform together for years. On Wagoner’s syndicated television show, The Porter Wagoner Show, he would introduce her performances with a variety of gentle honorifics. They had a warm and delicate on-screen chemistry.
Wagoner’s rise from the Missouri Ozarks to the grandest stage in Nashville illustrated his charisma and gift for folksy storytelling. Lyrically, Wagoner did not stray too far from standard country themes of connection to the land and the vagrancy of emotional loss and sorrow. Although he never attained the status of a country prophet, like Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard or Willie Nelson, the glint of his smile and the many glints of the rhinestones adorning his suits, Wagoner put his signature mark on country music for all time.