Tootsie's Orchid Lounge

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Tootsies Orchid Lounge

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge is a honky-tonk bar located in Nashville, Tennessee behind the Ryman Auditorium. Tootsie's has three stages that host live local talent each night; covering modern day country music artist such as Jason Aldean, Taylor Swift, and other popular country music artists as well as original work.[1] Some of its early famous first customers were Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Mel Tillis, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Roger Miller and numerous others country musicians.[2] According to, Willie Nelson received his first songwriting gig after singing at Tootsie's.[2] Terri Clark a Canadian-born country artist started singing at Tootsie's in 1987.[3] and has since become an internationally known country superstar with hits such as Better Things to Do, and the Warren Zevon cover, Poor Poor Pitiful Me.

Originally named Mom's, Tootsie Bess (Hattie Louise Bess) bought the future honky tonk in 1960. The name however, came later when to her surprise a painter painted the lounge purple. Subsequently, the name was changed to Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and to date, the exterior of the lounge is still painted the same color. Tootsie was known to slip 5's and 10's into the pockets of luckless writers and pickers. It was said she had a cigar box behind the counter full of IOU's from where she had given drinks and food to hungry writers and pickers. Supposedly, at each year's end, a bunch of Opry Performers would take all the IOU's and pay Tootsie so she wouldn't lose the money. At her 1978 funeral were Tom T. Hall, Roy Acuff and Faron Young. She was buried in an Orchid gown, with an orchid placed in the orchid colored casket, so she could take her favorite flower to heaven. Connie Smith sang some of Tootsie's favorite hymns at the funeral.

On November 7, 2010, Tootsie's celebrated its 50th Anniversary with performances at the Ryman Auditorium from Kris Kristofferson, Terri Clark, Little Jimmy Dickens, Mel Tillis, Jamey Johnson, and Joanna Smith.[3]

Wall of Fame[edit]

Alley between the rear entrance of Tootsie's and Ryman Auditorium.

Plastered throughout the venue are pictures and memorabilia of past and present individuals that have influenced country music. There are many pictures of Country Music artists, publicity stills of the greats, the hopefuls and never-wills who came to Music City chasing dreams.[4] Some of the pictures include the likes of Hank Williams Sr, Patsy Cline, and Willie Nelson.


Tootsie's Orchid Lounge: Where the Music Began was released is a 60-minute Biographical Documentary video originally released July 1995 and re-released in 2005. Willie Nelson gives insight into Tootsie's early days with interviews of Jimmy Dean and Jim Reeves. Offering insight into a favored spot for some of the biggest names in country music, who would stop in to meet their friends, enjoy a drink, and swap a few songs.[5] Included in the documentary is archived footage of Patsy Cline, Harlan Howard, Roger Miller and performances by Dolly Parton, Aaron Neville, Marijohn Wilkin as well as newer and veteran country artists Trisha Yearwood, Billy Ray Cyrus, Marty Stuart, Tanya Tucker, Ray Price, Bobby Bare.[6]


  1. ^ "How Tootsie's Orchid Lounge helped change country music and Nashville, in just 50 years". Nashville Scene. Retrieved 2011-02-23.
  2. ^ a b "Tootsie's World Famous Orchid Lounge". Tootsie' Retrieved 2011-02-23.
  3. ^ a b "Tootsie's Orchid Lounge Tribute". CMT. Retrieved 2011-02-27.
  4. ^ "Tennessee Vacation Guide Tootsie's Orchid Lounge". Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. Retrieved 2013-04-10.
  5. ^ "Barnes and Noble Tootsie's Orchid Lounge: Where the Music Began". Barnes and Noble. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
  6. ^ "IMDB Tootsie's Orchid Lounge: Where the Music Began". Internet Movie Database (IMDB). Retrieved 2013-04-11.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°09′39″N 86°46′42″W / 36.1608°N 86.77823°W / 36.1608; -86.77823