Jon Pardi makes Opry history, with a little help from Garth Brooks

More than a decade after making his Opry debut, Jon Pardi became the first native Californian ever inducted into the esteemed country music institution on Tuesday night. 

Fighting allergies to perform, Jon vowed to “keep on rockin’,” delivering hits like “Your Heart or Mine,” “Last Night Lonely” and “Heartache Medication” before Garth Brooks made a surprise appearance to do the official honors. 

Garth recalled how Jon had impressed him, capturing the attention of a stadium crowd of 85,000 in Knoxville, Tennessee, before handing him the replica of the Opry’s iconic mic bestowed on new members. “This is me and you joined in holy matrimony, by the common love of country music,” Garth told Jon. 

“I’m gonna squeak by on this one,” Jon told the crowd, before doing “Head Over Boots” as his first song as a bona fide Opry member.

Backstage earlier, Jon was already thinking about continuing the tradition of welcoming new artists into the fold.

“The most important part of that is being the guy with the dressing room door open,” he told reporters. “That’s how you help new artists that come through and play the Opry for the first time. And you kind of get that experience like I did when I was long-haired Jon, like, “Oh man, that’s Dierks Bentley jamming with his bluegrass band!” 

Jon’s new album, Merry Christmas from Jon Pardi, comes out this Friday, October 27.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.