Dierks Bentley had just released the song that would turn him into a star overnight when he made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry on April 18, 2003.

Bentley performed his debut single, "What Was I Thinkin',' during his first-ever performance on the hallowed stage of the country music institution.

According to the Opry's website, the song was actually inspired by a girl Bentley had met backstage at the Opry long before he was signed to a label deal. He was working a day job at the Nashville Network, which was located on the grounds of Opryland where the Opry House also resided, and Bentley would stay late on weekends and slip into the backstage at the Opry to hang around and visit with the musicians. He did it so many times that Opry management had to start banning him, but Bentley got the last laugh when Opry fixture Ricky Skaggs personally introduced him at his debut performance.

"I just want to add my name to the list of people that said this was the biggest night of their life, because this really is a dream come true," Bentley told the audience.

"What Was I Thinkin'" reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart in September of 2003, launching Bentley on a career path that would see him become one of the most consistent hitmakers of his generation. He was inducted into the Opry two years after his debut, and performing there remains an important part of his career.

"I actually come to the Opry even when I'm not playing," Bentley says. "I just come out because there's always great music."

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