Spearfish celebrity Gary Mule Deer inducted into Grand Ole Opry

Gary Mule Deer, born and raised in the Black Hills of Western South Dakota, credits his successful career on the lessons he learned at home.
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 8:50 AM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The former home of the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium welcomed its 229th and 230th members, Gary Mule Deer and Henry Cho. They were welcomed in by Marty Stuart, a 30-year member and musician on Jan. 6.

Gary Mule Deer was born in Deadwood, to Bruce and Lola Miller, he grew up near Spearfish on a ranch. Gary graduated from Spearfish High School, and would later attend Black Hills State University for five years.

“I tried every job I could find, and the last one was working with a partner in the middle of the winter with a pick and shovel digging graves at the cemetery, and I thought there’s got to be something better than this. So, I took a guitar lesson in Rapid City, from a guy named Ken Stone, I remember that. He taught me four chords and I just started working at places when I wasn’t really ready to start, but it turned out fine. It has been since 1959 I think from when I started,” said Mule Deer.

He describes himself as a comedian musician. He started out by playing music and after his first performance he started to add in comedy.

“I kind of had an accident in the middle of my first song, playing my first job, so I stopped and told a joke and that worked. From then on, I’ve been kind of doing both,” said Mule Deer.

Mule Deer’s first song he learned to sing, and play was Johnny Cash’s, Big River. Cash was a big influence on him.

One of Mule Deers’ guitars has been around with him since 1977.

When he appeared on David Letterman years ago, he first asked Sheryl Crow to sign his guitar. Now in 2023 he has the entire back filled with autographs from different guitar players and artists.

Gary had his first performance at the Opry in 1993, being invited to perform by Roy Acuff. Gary has had over 150 appearances and he regularly does shows at the Opry.

“Marty Stuart who is a 30-year member of the Opry, under the guise as the host of the new show, and they were going to call it Comedy at the Opry ... they asked me and another comedian Henry Cho to sit and do a Facebook live thing. Well it was all a setup. We were sitting there answering questions to Marty and finally at the end he said by the way, the family of the Opry would like to invite you to join,” said Mule Deer

Mule Deer said that being inducted into the original Grand Ole Opry, the motherhood of country music, makes it more special for him. He said that to stand where people like Hank Williams and the other 228 other people stood, is an honor.

Gary Mule Deer will be formally inducted March 10.