The First Star of the Opry

Over all the years of history of the Grand Ole Opry there have been many stars.  But, who was the first star of the Grand Ole Opry?  The answer may surprise you.

Deford Bailey is considered the first star of the Opry.  Bailey was known as a Harmonica Wizard.  He was born just East of Nashville, and raised by a family of musicians who played what he called ‘black hillbilly music.’  At the young age of three, he contracted polio and while bedridden for months, learned to play the harmonica.

In 1925 Bailey worked operating the elevator in the building which housed WSM Radio.  He became friends with a performer from WSM’s Barn Dance, who invited him to be on the show.  In 1928, Bailey was selected among the first artists to be recorded when the Victor Talking Machine Company came to Nashville.

The ‘Harmonica Wizard’ was a crowd favorite and played on the Opry until 1941. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

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