In 1969 WSM revealed plans to build an amusement park, called Opryland USA.. The park would be located 20 miles northeast of Nashville. The park opened in 1972, and featured a variety of musical shows as well as roller coasters, water rides, food booths and much more. The Opry moved to its new location that would seat 4,400 fans. The grand Ole Opry House was now located in Opryland. The last performance broadcast from the Ryman was on Friday night, March 15, 1974.
President Nixon joined Roy Acuff on stage and played his own rendition of “God Bless America” on the piano. This was the first show from the new Opry stage on March 16, 1974.
In remembrance of all the former country giant artist who had performed at the Ryman, a six foot diameter circle of oak flooring cut from its center stage was placed center stage of the new Grand Ole Opry House. This was done so as today’s performers could stand on part of the same hollowed stage that our past country music legends had stood.
In the 1970’s another change was the start of the Outlaw Movement. These performers consisted of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and David Allen Coe. These performers with their music and wild lifestyles, were mostly rejected by the conservative Nashville music establishment.
Waylon never had a desire to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry, calling it “The Grand Ole Uproar”. Many other big name performers also rejected joining the Opry , because it interfered with their busy touring schedules.
The most genuine outlaw of all, of the three, was David Allen Coe. He attracted attention to himself after getting out of prison in the late 1960’s by parking his red Cadillac hearse in front of the Ryman on Saturday nights. On the back of the hearse was painted “SUPPORT THE GRAND OLE OP’RY”