Trace Adkins had already earned 10 Top 20 hits by this time in 2003. He'd had his first No. 1 single, "(This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing," and had released four Top 10 albums, as well as a hits collection. But chances are, it's his induction into the Grand Ole Opry that makes Aug. 23 stand out in Adkins' mind.

It was on June 14, 2003, that Adkins was officially invited to become a member of the prestigious organization. He was giving what was supposed to be just another Saturday night Opry performance when Little Jimmy Dickens carried a stepladder out onstage after Adkins finished performing his hit single "Then They Do" and climbed up so that he could look the 6'6" singer in the eye.

"Mr. Adkins, I hope you'll accept my humble apology for interrupting," Dickens said. "I'm just following orders. Our manager, Pete Fisher, asked me to come out here and ask you a very, very serious question: Just how bad would you like to become a member of our Grand Ole Opry family?"

An emotional Adkins removed his hat before hugging Dickens and replying, "I want it bad."

"I have a very important date for you to mark down on your calendar. Now don't forget it," Dickens continued. "As of Aug. 23, you will become our newest member of our Grand Ole Opry family."

Adkins' then-wife, Rhonda, whom the singer proposed to during his debut appearance on the Opry stage in 1996, watched from the sidelines, along with Ricky Skaggs, who had also performed that evening.

Adkins, a former oil driller, has since been a part of several other artists' Grand Ole Opry inductions, including those of Toby Keith and Keith Urban. He says that he still enjoys playing both at the Grand Ole Opry House and on the Ryman stage, where the Opry hosts its shows during the winter months.

“It’s a special place,” he tells The Boot. “That’s the thing I like: There’s a spirit in the Ryman; it’s almost palpable. I enjoy going there. A little dab will do you in the Ryman, though, then I like to go back to the big house.”

In 2013, to celebrate his 10-year anniversary as an Opry member, Adkins played at the Opry with Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith and several others. In 2018, while celebrating his own 15-year Grand Ole Opry anniversary, Adkins invited Dustin Lynch to join the organization.

This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Annie Zaleski. 

See a Photo From Trace Adkins' Football-Playing Days:

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