19 years ago, on May 28, 1999, Brad Paisley fulfilled a dream he'd held since childhood, when he gave his debut performance at the Grand Ole Opry. The West Virginia native's first appearance on the revered stage came just as his debut single, "Who Needs Pictures" -- which was the title track of his freshman album -- was climbing up the charts.
While Paisley's Opry debut was undoubtedly unforgettable, it's what he did immediately afterward that changed his life: Following his performance, Paisley boldly approached Little Jimmy Dickens and asked the Opry legend if he'd like to go fishing with him. The following Monday, Paisley and his good friend and co-writer Kelley Lovelace picked up Dickens at his home and drove two hours to Alabama, beginning a friendship that continued until Dickens' death.
Paisley also forged a permanent relationship with the Grand Ole Opry stage. He spent the next year and a half becoming a frequent performer at the Opry, before officially receiving an invitation to join on Dec. 16, 2000, by Dickens, Bill Anderson and Jeannie Seely. On Feb. 17, 2001, less than two years after his debut, Paisley was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, when he was just 28 years old.
“I love the Opry,” he says. “I would call it my favorite place in the city of Nashville. That hallowed place that feels like home that has accepted me from the beginning.
Paisley has won dozens of awards, filled large venues and sold million of albums, but his membership at the Opry remains the pinnacle of his career.
“It’s like an honor, and an award that’s bestowed on you with conditions, and I like that,” he tells MTV, referring to the requirement that members continue performing at the Opry. “You know, all those awards that you win — you work, work, work, and then you’ve got it — and then what? Those awards are sort of hollow.
"But with something like this," Paisley continues, "it’s truly one of those gifts that keeps on giving.” -Gayle Thompson. The Boot.