Saturday, January 28

Loretta Lynn’s Green Bay history spans decades, from Carlton to casino


GREEN BAY – Loretta Lynn shard the stage with fellow country music legend Conway Twitty when she performed in 1977 at the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena for a $5 ticket, but it were her frequent visits to the Carlton Celebrity Room that most connected her to Green Bay.

Lynn, who died Tuesday at age 90, counted the former star-studded venue on the city’s west side as one of her favorite places to play. She came through there during her tours in the early ’80s, often playing two shows in one night or doing multiple-night stands.

Dressed in fancy gowns and backed by her sizable band, she performed such classics as “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “They Don’t Make ’Em Like My Daddy Anymore” and “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind).” Ventriloquist Alex Houston and his sidekick, Elmer, were often her opening act.

Country music singer Loretta Lynn  1985. (AP Photo)

When she felt like a Green Bay Press-Gazette review of one of her performances at the Carlton wasn’t fair, well, the plain-spoken Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, native picked up the phone and called to say as much.

Retired entertainment writer Warren Gerds got a call from Lynn on a Friday afternoon in 1982 after she read his review in that day’s paper of what was the first of her three nights at the Carlton. The concert had gotten off to a slow start due to piano tuning issues, and once onstage, Gerds noted Lynn had troubles staying in tune — something Lynn said so herself to the crowd, admitting she was worried because her jewelry in her motel room had gone missing. Gerds also observed she appeared to forget lyrics a couple of times.

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