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Little Jimmy Dickens passes away

Friday, January 2, 2015 – Short in stature, but long casting a shadow as an ambassador of country music as a singer of novelty songs, Little Jimmy Dickens died Friday at 94 in Nashville of cardiac arrest.

Dickens, who stood all of 4-11, had been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1948 and was its oldest member. Dickens was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983. The popular Dickens also was known for his outlandish costumes, wearing rhinestone suits.

"The Grand Ole Opry did not have a better friend than Little Jimmy Dickens," said Pete Fisher, Opry Vice President & General Manager. "He loved the audience and his Opry family, and all of us loved him back. He was a one-of-kind entertainer and a great soul whose spirit will live on for years to come."

James Cecil DIckens was born in Bolt, West Va. on Dec. 19, 1920. He started his career in country on radio station WJLS in Beckley, West. Va. He quit West Virginia University l to pursue a full-time music career, performing on local radio stations as Jimmy the Kid.

Roy Acuff heard Dickens perform on WKNX in Saginaw, Mich. in 1948 as his opening act. Acuff introduced Dickens to Art Satherly at Columbia Records and Opry officials. Dickens signed with Columbia in September and joined the Opry in August even though he had yet to even release a record. He also changed his performing name to Little Jimmy Dickens.

Dickens recorded many novelty songs, including "Country Boy", "A-Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed" and "I'm Little But I'm Loud." One of Dickens' songs, "Take an Old Cold Tater (And Wait)," led Hank Williams to nickname him "Tater". Williams wrote "Hey Good Lookin'" specifically for Dickens in 20 minutes while on a Grand Ole Opry tour bus. A week later. Williams recorded the song himself, jokingly telling Dickens, "That song's too good for you"

In 1950, Dickens formed the Country Boys with Jabbo Arrington, Grady Martin, Bob Moore and Thumbs Carllile. He found singer Marty Robbins at a Phoenix television station while on tour with the Opry road show.

He left the Opry for the Phillip Morris Road Show as a headliner, a gig that lasted a year, but also led to a decades-long absence from the Opry.

After a long gap between hits, Dickens had his first top-10 country hit since 1954 with "The Violet and the Rose."

The following year, he released his biggest hit, "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose", reaching the top of the country chart and 15 on the pop chart.

Dickens changed labels a few times going to Decca and then United Artists.

In 1975 he returned to the Grand Ole Opry. Dickens continued performing at the Opry for the rest of his life. His last show there was on Dec. 20. He also appeared in several videos of Brad Paisley, a fellow West Virginian, and on Paisley's albums in comedy tracks along with George Jones and Bill Anderson.

Dickens was hospitalized after a stroke on Dec. 25, 2014.

Dickens is survived by his wife and two daughters.

More news for Little Jimmy Dickens

CD reviews for Little Jimmy Dickens

Country Boy
Country Music Hall Of Famer Little Jimmy Dickens, just shy of five feet tall, is proof positive that good things do indeed come in small packages. Germany's Bear Family Records, renown for its comprehensive, meticulously researched box sets, with this - the first of two sets - begins its documentation of Dickens' career in a superb none-too-small collection of 105 songs spanning four CDs from 1949-57 on Columbia. Known for novelty songs such as "Out Behind The Barn" and "A-Sleepin' At The Foot Of »»»
I'm Little But I'm Loud: The Little Jimmy Dickens Collection
Little Jimmy Dickens is a member of the CMA Hall of Fame; he's a seminal figure in the bridge between hillbilly and rockabilly music; he's been oneof the most popular country performers in history. This is the only domestic comprehensive overview of his music (1949-1969) available, and so, for serious collectors of country, the CD is essential. But what about the music? It's pretty terrific, too. Dickens was a master of many forms of country: work songs, sentimental ballads, boogie tunes, weepy »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Womack planned a good night – Lee Ann Womack pretty much summed up where she's at these days in concluding her show with Don Williams "Lord I Hope This Day Is Good." The ever-strong voiced country traditionalist sang, "I don't need fortune and I don't need fame" with the concluding line of the stanza asking the Man upstairs to "plan a good day for me.... »»»
Concert Review: Cantrell continues to satisfy – Laura Cantrell may never be a country star. Not at this stage of her career when she's 50, touring here and there and releasing new music every few years or so. But five albums in, Cantrell continues as a warm, enjoyable and worthy purveyor of her brand of country. That would mean going towards a more traditional side, not rushing the songs... »»»
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