Chris Young reacts after he was invited to join the Opry by Vince Gill at The Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017.
Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean

Eleven years after Chris Young first debuted on the Grand Ole Opry, Tuesday night Vince Gill surprised him with an invitation to become the Opry’s newest member. 

Young spontaneously kissed the Opry’s hallowed circle and lifted Gill off the stage in a bear hug. 

“I’m standing backstage going, ‘Why is he making me go last?’” Young said. Typically Young would play before Gill at the Opry, but Tuesday night they justified the swap by blaming Gill’s ongoing scratchy throat.

“Will you?” Gill reiterated.

“Yes,” Young replied, before he dropped his head into his hands in disbelief.


Country music star Chris Young got surprise on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, when Vince Gill invited him to become a member, Aug. 29, 2018.
Cindy Watts/The Tennessean

The men celebrated the chart-topping success of “Sober Saturday Night” with a party at the Grand Ole Opry House before the show. During the event, Young was presented with his first platinum album signifying his album “Neon” has sold more than 1 million copies and a gold single for “Sober Saturday Night.” Gill and Young were on the Opry stage together to perform their hit song later that night when Gill stunned Young with the invitation.

“As a friend and as someone who has been out here for 30 years, you will not believe the friendships and the relationships and the heart that you will gain from being out here for the rest of your life,” Gill said. “It’s going to really be powerful to you.”

Young, known for his distinctive…