Glasgow's Grand Ole Opry was
founded by the late Alex Fleming, opening its doors as a Country & Western club
in 1974. It was, and still is, the largest club of its kind in the UK, if not in
The building was formerly the site of a Post Office, Carriage-Hirers and
Funeral Undertakers in the 1900s. The retaining walls of a former mortuary,
situated below ground level, still remain today and is now used by the club
staff as a storeroom.
in 1921 the building was converted into the Imperial Picture Hall by
William Beresford Inglis, designer and owner of the former Beresford Hotel in
Glasgow's Sauchiehall Street. The Imperial had one screen and could seat 1100
people. It closed in 1959 and later became an Irish dancing club.
The structural layout inside the club is largely unchanged from its
Cinema days. A mezzanine level which would have been an upper circle still
remains and now provides overspill seating for visitors on busy evenings. The
area which housed the cinema projectors is still visible above the bar.
The Grand Ole Opry thrived as a Country and Western club and became one
of Glasgow's most popular venues. Small wonder when it cost very little to get
in, the drinks were the cheapest in a 10-mile radius and the people as pleasant
as you could meet anywhere. All still as much true today as it was in the early
The club was a large organisation with around 2000 members and a regular
attendance in the hundreds. A programme of live bands entertained the club-goers
every weekend on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays! The atmosphere was very special
with almost everyone dressed in authentic Western attire. Bands came from all
over the UK, and also included top country artists from Ireland and the USA such
as Jean Shepherd, Heather Myles and more recently, Hal Ketchum, to name just a
In the 80's the club became home to the Glasgow Gunslingers, where on
Tuesday nights the air smelled of black powder and leather. With guns blazin'
they would fire blanks at balloons in a race against the clock to see who was
the fastest draw in the West of Scotland! Aged from 14 to 65, the Gunslingers
numbered more than a hundred guns, and in summer they would head out into the
country where they would run fast-draw events. Along with these fund-raising
events and annual dances the Glasgow Gunslingers raised thousands of pounds for
The club has been seen on film and television on several occasions,
including an episode of the popular Taggart series in 1994 and a short film in
2007, "Bon Voyage", which featured many of the club regulars and members of
Cimarron, a local Country and Western band.
Nowadays the Grand Ole Opry caters for more modest numbers but still
enjoys a regular attendance on Fridays and Saturdays, the occasional Sunday
special, plus regular Charity events. The Opry has also gained a reputation for
being a credible venue for gigs and festivals and has been host to Lloyd Cole,
Franz Ferdinand, Celtic Connections and the Americana Festival of Music, amongst
The club has a seating capacity of 450 over 3 levels, 2 dance floors, a Saloon
Bar and a Chuck Wagon eatery for the hungry. It is also available for private
functions Sunday to Thursday.
Founder member Alex Fleming was in no doubt about its appeal. "People
come to have a good time. There are no hassles about dress code, and you can
listen, sing and dance to country music. What more can you ask?" What more
And the women's view on the country scene? Well, as Southern Star alias
Mrs Sandra Anderson of Clarkston sums up - "It's the most easy-going company you
will get anywhere" she says. "It's for whole families or for singles. But the
main thing is it's for happy nights, and there's never any trouble. I just
wouldn't be without my country nights. Why don't you try it sometime?"
The club has not lost any of it's appeal from the early days. Sadly, many of the
people mentioned on this web site are no longer with us.
But the fact that the club is still going strong, is still regularly attended by
many of the original members from the days when the club first opened, and is
gaining new members all the time, young and old, is indeed a lasting tribute to
all of our founder members and absent friends.