Sunday, May 31, 2009

Steve Martin sightings galore at the Opry

by Leathers - Of all things, backstage at the Saturday night Grand Ole Opry turned into a Steve Martin lookalike affair, thanks in large part to our own Commodore head football coach.

With the help of Vanderbilt Athletics fan and longtime Opry member Whisperin' Bill Anderson, Bobby Johnson got to meet Martin, the legendary actor/comedian whom total strangers continue to confuse the coach with. (Check out the back stage photo take of the duo.)

Johnson, accompanied by his wife Catherine, was introduced to his famous lookalike after Martin's opening set at the Opry.

"He was preoccupied and I definitely understand why," the head coach said, "but he was very cordial and just real excited about playing on the Opry."

"As we were introduced, he said, 'Hey, we look alike.' That's what Catherine has been saying for years now," Johnson added.

An lifelong banjo picker, Martin was making his highly anticipated first appearance on the Opry stage. He was joined by an all-star lineup of talent, including Vince Gill and wife Amy Grant, John McEuen of the Nitty Gitty Dirt Band, fiddler Stuart Duncan and guitarist Tim O'Brien, in front of a packed house.


  1. The connection between Steve Martin and Vanderbilt goes much deeper. The story has been written several times, most recently in Martin's autobiography "Born Standing Up." He was a struggling comedian in 1975 when he came to play a Friday night gig in a room called the Different Drummer in basement of Carmichael Towers. It was the first night that he got the audience reaction he was looking for...people even followed him out onto West End and into the Krystal after the show was over. (I was the sports director at WRVU and invited him to the station to do an interview, and he took phone calls on the air for about 45 minutes.) His act and his fame grew quickly, and he soon achieved rock star status. His stand-up act eventually went from small clubs to large arenas and to being one of the most popular hosts on SNL (the show where he first did King Tut is still a classic). For those under 30 who only know Steve Martin from the movies, you cannot appreciate the phenomenon that he was and his incredible popularity as a stand-up comedian, and to think it started in Carmichael Towers.