The Porter Wagoner Show was a popular Country variety show, broadcast nationwide from Nashville, starting in 1960 and continuing on until 1981. Dolly first appeared on the show, at the start of season seven, back in 1967 and went on to appear in the next 7 seasons, which works out at around 240 episodes, if indeed she appeared on every show during this time. Unfortunately there is very little information about the shows available, which are currently owned by Jim Owens Entertainment, a subsidiary of Crook and Chase.
Dolly performing Dumb Blonde on her first show
Personally, I’ve seen around 50 shows in which Dolly appears and many of these are often repeated. This prompts the question, where are the rest? Possibly they could be lost, or the episode just recorded over, as was the practice in the 60’s when video tape was in its infancy and very expensive. Only those in possession of the shows can say for sure what they have and how they’ve been catalogued.
Dolly’s contribution to the 30 minute show normally consisted of her singing 2 songs, one solo and another, a duet with Porter. Her solo numbers would normally be a single release from one of her albums or a spiritual number, of which Porter liked to feature one in every episode. It wasn’t unusual for Dolly to sing the same song several times, especially if it was an audience favourite. Dumb Blonde was sung on at least 5 occasions which I’ve seen. On the other hand, It was uncommon to hear an album track or even a cover version, but it did happen, certainly more in the later years.
Publicity still taken from the set (circa 1971)
Apart from Porter and Dolly, the show also featured his house band, The Wagonmasters and comedian Speck Rhodes, who wasn’t funny then, never mind in 2010. Every week would feature a special musical guest, some more famous than others and would, almost without fail, be male. I can only imagine that for Porter, having another woman on his show, apart from Dolly, would upset the male dominated imbalance.
Even for hardened fans, the non Dolly portions of the shows are hard to watch, as they have dated so badly. Porter’s hokey presentation style together with his sometimes patronising attitude towards Dolly, just comes across as something from the dark ages. Dolly copes with him admirably though and is always gracious and respectful at all times. As time went on, Dolly tried to exercise more control over her role in the show, to little effect, although Porter did let her host on one show, which I’ve seen.
Porter, Dolly and The Wagonmasters (circa 1968)
It’s well known that Dolly tried to leave the show at least a couple of years before she actually did, only for Porter to force her to stay, with various threats. The battles continued until 1974, when she finally decided enough was enough and announced on the 19th of February that she would leave the show at the end of the season, a few months later. She made a few more concert appearances with him after that, the final one being at Opryland in late October, but that was it. Porter then sued her for $1 million for breach of contract, but was still continued to produce her studio albums. By 1975, she was already getting ready to host her own show and reach out to a mainstream audience.
None of the shows are currently available on DVD, although a 3 DVD box set, featuring 13 shows (6 with Dolly) was released in 2009 via a TV shopping channel.
Here are a list of confirmed songs which Dolly sang on the Porter Wagoner Show:
Always a First Time Always Always Better Move It On Home – duet Bubblin’ Over Coming For To Carry Me Home Cryin’ Time Daddy Daddy Come Get Me Don’t Let it Trouble Your Mind Dumb Blonde Go Getter Golden Streets of Glory Gypsy Joe and Me Handy Man Her and the Car and Mobile Home -duet He’s a Go-Getter Holdin’ Onto Nothing - duet I Can't Stop Loving You I Couldn’t Wait Forever I Will Always Love You I Wish I Felt That Way at Home I’ll Oilwells Love You I’m Doing This for Your Sake I’m Not Worth The Tears If We Never Meet Again In My Mind - duet In The Garden In The Good Old Days Its My Time - duet Jeannie’s Afraid of the Dark - duet Jolene Joshua Just Because I’m a Woman Just Someone I Used to Know - duet Last Thing On My Mind - duet Letter to Heaven Love with Me Mama Say a Prayer Medley: Put it Off Till Tomorrow/Handy Man/I’m In No Condition Melina – duet Milwaukee Here I Come - duet Muleskinner Blues My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy My Tennessee Mountain Home Run That By Me One More Time - duet Sacred Memories Satin’s River – duet Something Fishy Tender Touch of Love The Bridge The Only Way Out The Right Combination - duet The Seeker Touch Your Woman Travellin’ Man We Found It We’ll Get Ahead Someday - duet When I Sing For Him Where No One Stands Alone