Little Jimmy Dickens, one of the most beloved members of the Grand Ole Opry, died on Friday (Jan. 2), at age 94 of cardiac arrest after suffering a stroke. The Grand Ole Opry star was admitted to a Nashville-area hospital this past Christmas Day.
Little Jimmy, who stood only 4 feet 11 inches, became a mainstay of the Grand Ole Opry after joining the radio program in 1948.
He was born Dec. 19, 1920, in Bolt, W.Va., and started his career with Johnny Bailes & His Happy Valley Boys in 1942. As a youngster, he also performed on radio stations in the South and Midwest.
Little Jimmy was known as a dynamic entertainer and a prolific singer of ballads and novelty tunes. He made his chart debut in 1949 with “Take an Old Cold ’Tater (And Wait),” which reached No. 7. The song led to one of his popular nicknames, “Tater.”
Little Jimmy hit No. 1 for two weeks in 1965 with the humorous novelty song “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose.”
In later years, Little Jimmy focused on the Grand Ole Opry and became a mentor to such stars as Vince Gill and Brad Paisley. He performed regularly on the Opry and made his most recent appearance on the show Dec. 20 to celebrate his 94th birthday.
On learning of Little Jimmy’s death, Brad sent this message via Twitter: “It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to my hero and friend today I loved you Jimmy.”
Funeral arrangements have now been finalized. A public visitation will be held Wednesday, Jan. 7, at Woodlawn Roesch Patton in Nashville from 4-8 p.m. A celebration of life service will take place Thursday, Jan. 8, at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville at 11 a.m. The public is invited to attend both the visitation and the service.
We at Country Weekly send our condolences to Little Jimmy’s wife, Mona, and the Grand Ole Opry.
photo by Angie Wagner/Retna