Ricky Skaggs was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday, Oct. 21, along with Johnny Gimble and Dottie West, who were both inducted posthumously. The country and bluegrass icon was inducted by Garth Brooks.
"I didn't know if this day would ever come," Skaggs shared with PopCulture.com at a media event prior to the ceremony. "Honestly, maybe Dottie West thought that her day would come before she passed. There's a lot of people that go in after; I'm really, really thankful that at 64, I can enjoy this a long time. So that's a grateful heart that I have. When I first heard the news I thought, 'God, why me and why now?'
"But the more I think about it, it's the right time," he continued. "I'm in a really, really good place in my heart, with my family, my band. I got a bunch of young rascals on the road and some of them are still in their twenties. And they are just playing me into the dirt."
In his induction speech, Brooks honored Skaggs with being one of the few artists who successfully changed the entire musical landscape in country music.
"It's the early 80's, I'm a kid going to school in Stillwater Oklahoma. Oklahoma State University. It's the capital of America," Brooks shared. "Speaking of that, I should be reading out of the book of Luke, Mark and Mathew. Instead, like all 19-year-old kids, I was reading out of the book of Aerosmith, Bob Seger and George Strait. We were country music, we were raised on Haggard, raised on Jones, raised on Buck Owens. And where was country radio headed? If your memory's like mine, it went to change and blew it to a pretty far place.I think Hollywood had a great idea of where they thought it should go."
"But thank God that Reba McEntire and George Strait, they had another opinion," he continued. "If it wasn't for Reba, George, Ricky Skaggs. Reba and George were holding it down – the winds of change were blowing so hard Skaggs came at the right time. And he held it down long enough. Those three held it down long enough until Randy Travis showed up and nailed it to it. We were always told that the line between crazy and genius was so thin you couldn't even see it. Ricky Skaggs, I don't have a freaking clue which one you are. Really."
Upon taking the stage, Skaggs gave a heart-warming acceptance speech, crediting those who paved the way for him, especially in bluegrass.
"I've admired them and I've listened them, I've worked with them and I've learned from them and tonight I honor them," Skaggs said. "Bill Monroe, Ralph and Carter, the Stanley Brothers, and Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. It doesn't seem possible that a little boy, from the hills of eastern Kentucky can get to play with all three of these great fathers of the music before I was 10 years old, my God. But God is the God of the impossible.
"When you have a praying mother like I had; my mother knew that faith was the currency of Heaven," he continued. "Mother knew that they didn't take money in heaven, that it takes faith to move God's heart. It's the kind of mom I grew up with. That music has sounded and resonated in my heart for over 60 years. It's the musical foundation that I stand on ... Thank you for this tremendous honor. I've always tried to do my best to honor others but tonight y'all have truly honored me. Thank you."
In honor of Skaggs' induction into the Hall of Fame, Dierks Bentley sang "You've Got a Lover," Chris Stapleton sang "Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn," and Brooks, along with Larry Cordle and Sierra Hull, sang "Highway 40 Blues."
The ceremony concluded with Skaggs playing Monroe's mandolin, housed at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, leading the packed crowd in "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" made famous by the Carter Family.
Photo Credit: Getty images/John Shearer