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Porter Wagoner, Rhinestone Cowboy

Published: 10/28/2012

When Porter Wagoner died, five years ago today, Obit-Mag remembered his fine music and his marvelous Nudie suits. 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 1970s. He charted over 81 country singles, 29 of which landed in the top ten. Wagoner died on October 28, 2007, at 80 years old.

 Porter Wagoner is shown at his home in Nashville, Tenn., July 19, 2007. (AP Photo/Ed Rode)

Porter Wagoner is shown at his home in Nashville, Tenn., July 19, 2007. (AP Photo/Ed Rode)



Above all his ridiculous accoutrements—a six-inch high pompadour, over 50 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 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.






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