Little Jimmy Dickens has died at the age of 94. He was the oldest member of the Grand Old Opry, and will go down in history as a country legend. He died on January 2 in a hospital close to Nashville. The country star suffered a cardiac arrest, according to a statement released by the Opry.
Dickens got his nickname from his height. He was just 4-foot-11-inches, but had a big voice. Peope around the world loved his personality and singing voice, along with his crackerjack band. His size quickly became a joke for his performances, which was helped by his position in the family. He regularly called himself the “runt of the litter” due to being the 13th child born to a farmer in West Virginia.
One woman stated that she had come to see Dickens, but all she saw was “Mighty Mouse in his pajamas.” That quickly became a quote that the singer used as a running joke for himself.
Between 1949 and 1967 he had 13 Billboard Top 40 hits. Some of his most notable songs include A-Sleepin’ at the Foot of the Bed and Take an Old Cold Tater (and Wait). Due to the 1949 record, he gained another nickname of “Tater.”
He also enjoyed creating novelty songs, with I’m Little But I’m Loud being one that fans enjoyed. May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose was a humorous song, that went on to become one of the biggest of his hits. It was at number one of the country charts for a while, and even hit number 15 in the pop charts. It was his only number one, inspired by Carnac the Magnificent sketch by Johnny Carson.
Dickens has died at the age of 94, but his memory lives on. He was one with a “very colourful” language, according to John Rumble, a Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum senior historian. Dickens gained a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame during 1983, after being a long-time fixture in the Grand Old Opry.
While being a prominent old-school member, he welcomed the “fresh blood” into the Opry. Some of the groups he welcomed include Little Big Town and Diamond Rio. One of his most notable welcoming was when he welcomed Trace Adkins in 2003. Adkins is 6-foot-6-inches and Dickens climbed a step-ladder to do it.
He was a prominent member for many country stars. Brad Paisley had the country legend in a number of comedic cameos in music videos. One of those worth mentioning was Celebrity.
During his later years, his short jokes turned into old jokes. One of his favorites was about getting to the age of 88 and his wife saying about running upstairs and making love. He often said that he could not do both.
While welcoming members into the Opry, he also enjoyed making fun of some pop singers out there. One of his most memorable sketches was as “Little” Justin Bieber, during the Country Music Awards in 2011. It was with a heavy heart that the Opry announced Dickens’ death at the age of 94 from a cardiac arrest.
By Alexandria Ingham
Photo by Ryan McGilchrist