Little Jimmy Dickens

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Little Jimmy Dickens
Little Jimmy Dickens 1971.JPG
Dickens in 1971
Background information
Birth nameJames Cecil Dickens
Also known asLittle Jimmy Dickens
Born(1920-12-19)December 19, 1920
Bolt, West Virginia
DiedJanuary 2, 2015(2015-01-02) (aged 94)
Nashville, Tennessee
Genres Country
Occupation(s)Country Singer
Instruments Guitar
Years active1936–2014
Labels Columbia Records, Decca Records, United Artists Records
Associated acts Buddy Emmons, Kenneth Carllile, Hank Garland, Red Foley, Minnie Pearl, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard

James Cecil Dickens (December 19, 1920 – January 2, 2015), better known by his stage name, Little Jimmy Dickens, was an American country music singer and songwriter famous for his humorous novelty songs, his small size (4'11" [150 cm]), and his rhinestone-studded outfits (which he is given credit for introducing into country music live performances). [1] He started as a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1948 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983. Before his death he was the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Country music, also known as country and western, and hillbilly music, is a genre of popular music that originated in the southern United States in the early 1920s. It takes its roots from genres such as American folk music and blues.

<i>Grand Ole Opry</i> radio program

The Grand Ole Opry is a weekly American country music stage concert in Nashville, Tennessee founded on November 28, 1925, by George D. Hay as a one-hour radio "barn dance" on WSM. Currently owned and operated by Opry Entertainment, it is the longest running radio broadcast in US history. Dedicated to honoring country music and its history, the Opry showcases a mix of famous singers and contemporary chart-toppers performing country, bluegrass, Americana, folk, and gospel music as well as comedic performances and skits. It attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world and millions of radio and internet listeners.


Early life

Dickens was born in Bolt, West Virginia. He began his musical career in the late 1930s, performing on radio station WJLS in Beckley, West Virginia, while attending West Virginia University. [2] He soon quit school to pursue a full-time music career, traveling the country performing on local radio stations under the name "Jimmy the Kid."

Bolt, West Virginia Census-designated place in West Virginia, United States

Bolt is a census-designated place (CDP) in Raleigh County, West Virginia, United States. Bolt is located on West Virginia Route 99 12 miles (19 km) west of Beckley. Bolt has a post office with ZIP code 25817. As of the 2010 census, its population is 548.

West Virginia University public university in Morgantown, West Virginia, United States

West Virginia University (WVU) is a public, land-grant, space-grant, research-intensive university in Morgantown, West Virginia, United States. Its other campuses include the West Virginia University Institute of Technology in Beckley and Potomac State College of West Virginia University in Keyser; and a second clinical campus for the University's medical and dental schools at Charleston Area Medical Center in Charleston. WVU Extension Service provides outreach with offices in all of West Virginia's 55 counties. Since 2001, WVU has been governed by the West Virginia University Board of Governors.


Dickens in 1955 Little Jimmy Dickens 1955.JPG
Dickens in 1955

In 1948, Dickens was heard performing on WKNX, a radio station in Saginaw, Michigan while on location at Buck Lake Ranch, Angola Indiana. Roy Acuff introduced him to Art Satherly at Columbia Records and officials from the Grand Ole Opry. Dickens signed with Columbia in September and joined the Opry in August. Around this time he began using the nickname Little Jimmy Dickens, inspired by his short stature. [3]

WJMK is a radio station broadcasting a Oldies format, serving the Saginaw–Bay City Broadcasting from its transmitter in Bridgeport, Michigan, its city of license, it is currently owned by Northern States Broadcasting. WJMK broadcasts with a power of 5000 watts daytime, 1100 watts at night, directed towards the north.

Saginaw, Michigan City in Michigan, United States

Saginaw is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the seat of Saginaw County. The city of Saginaw and Saginaw County are both in the area known as Mid-Michigan or Central Michigan. Saginaw is adjacent to Saginaw Charter Township and considered part of the Tri-City area, along with neighboring Bay City and Midland. The Saginaw County MSA had a population of 196,542 in 2013. The city is also the largest municipality in the Saginaw, Midland, and Bay City Metropolitan Area.

Roy Acuff American country music singer and fiddler

Roy Claxton Acuff was an American country music singer, fiddler, and promoter, freemason. Known as the "King of Country Music," Acuff is often credited with moving the genre from its early string band and "hoedown" format to the singer-based format that helped make it internationally successful. In 1952, Hank Williams told Ralph Gleason, "He's the biggest singer this music ever knew. You booked him and you didn't worry about crowds. For drawing power in the South, it was Roy Acuff, then God."

Dickens recorded many novelty songs for Columbia, including "Country Boy", "A-Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed", and "I'm Little but I'm Loud". [4] His song "Take an Old Cold Tater (And Wait)" inspired Hank Williams to nickname him Tater. Later, telling Dickens he needed a hit, Williams wrote "Hey Good Lookin'" in only 20 minutes while on a plane with Dickens, Minnie Pearl, and Pearl's husband, Henry Cannon. [5] A week later Williams recorded the song himself, jokingly telling Dickens, "That song's too good for you!" [6]

Hank Williams American country music singer

Hiram King "Hank" Williams was an American singer-songwriter and musician. Regarded as one of the most significant and influential American singers and songwriters of the 20th century, Williams recorded 35 singles that reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked number one.

Minnie Pearl American comedian and country singer

Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon, known professionally as her stage character Minnie Pearl, was an American country comedian who appeared at the Grand Ole Opry for more than 50 years and on the television show Hee Haw from 1969 to 1991.

In 1950, Dickens formed the Country Boys with musicians Jabbo Arrington, Grady Martin, Bob Moore, and Thumbs Carllile. It was during this time that he discovered future Country Music Hall of Famer Marty Robbins at a Phoenix, Arizona television station while on tour with the Grand Ole Opry road show. In 1957, Dickens left the Grand Ole Opry to tour with the Philip Morris Country Music Show. [7]

Grady Martin American musician

Thomas Grady Martin was an American session guitarist in country music and rockabilly.

Bob Loyce Moore is an American session musician, orchestra leader, and bassist who was a member of the Nashville A-Team during the 1950s and 1960s. He performed on over 17,000 documented recording sessions, backing popular acts such as Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison. He is also the father of multi-instrumentalist R. Stevie Moore, who pioneered lo-fi music.

Marty Robbins American singer, songwriter and racing driver

Martin David Robinson, known professionally as Marty Robbins, was an American singer, songwriter, actor, multi-instrumentalist, and racing driver. One of the most popular and successful country and western singers of all time for most of his near four-decade career, Robbins often topped the country music charts, and several of his songs also had crossover success as pop hits.

In 1962, Dickens had his first top-10 country hit since 1954 with "The Violet and the Rose".

In 1964, he became the first country artist to circle the globe while on tour. He also made numerous appearances on television, including on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson . In 1965, he released his biggest hit, "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose", which reached number 1 on the country chart and number 15 on the pop chart.

<i>The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson</i> television series

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson is an American talk show hosted by Johnny Carson under the Tonight Show franchise from October 1, 1962 through May 22, 1992.

May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose 1965 single by Little Jimmy Dickens

"May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" is a 1965 novelty song performed by Little Jimmy Dickens. It was Dickens' most successful single on the U.S. country music chart. It spent two weeks at No. 1 that November, and stayed on the chart for a total of 18 weeks. On the overall Billboard Hot 100 the song peaked at No. 15. It was his only Top 40 hit on the latter chart.

In the late 1960s, Dickens left Columbia for Decca Records before moving again to United Artists in 1971. [8] That same year, he married his wife, Mona, [9] [10] and in 1975 he returned to the Grand Ole Opry. In 1983. Dickens was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. [11]

Dickens joined the producers Randall Franks and Alan Autry for the In the Heat of the Night cast CD Christmas Time’s A Comin’, performing "Jingle Bells" with the cast (the CD was released by Sonlite and MGM/UA and was one of the most popular Christmas releases of 1991 and 1992 with Southern retailers).

Later career

Dickens at the Grand Ole Opry in 2004 Little Jimmy Dickens.jpg
Dickens at the Grand Ole Opry in 2004

Toward the end of his life, Dickens made appearances in a number of music videos by the country musician and West Virginia native Brad Paisley. He was also featured on several of Paisley's albums in bonus comedy tracks, along with other Opry mainstays such as George Jones and Bill Anderson. They were collectively referred to as the Kung-Pao Buckaroos.

With the death of Hank Locklin in March 2009, Dickens became the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry, at the age of 90. He made regular appearances as a host at the Opry, often with the self-deprecating joke that he is also known as "Willie Nelson after taxes," playing on his resemblance to Nelson in his later years, Nelson's highly publicized problems with the Internal Revenue Service, and Dickens's own short stature. At the 2011 CMA Awards, Dickens was dressed as Justin Bieber and made fun of Bieber's current paternity scandal.


Dickens was hospitalized after a stroke on December 25, 2014, days after his last appearance on the Opry to mark his birthday. [1] He died of cardiac arrest on January 2, 2015, at the age of 94. [12] He is survived by his wife, Mona Dickens, whom he married in 1971, and two daughters, Pamela Detert and Lisa King. [13] After his funeral on January 8, 2015 at the Grand Ole Opry House, Dickens was entombed in the Cross Mausoleum at Woodlawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Nashville. [14]

Personal life

Dickens married Connie Chapman in 1944, the marriage ended in divorce in 1955. Later that year, he married Ernestine Jones; she died in 1968 in an automobile accident while traveling in Texas. He married Mona Evans in 1971. [15]


Studio albums

YearAlbum detailsChart positions
US Country
1954Old Country Church
1960Big Songs by Little Jimmy Dickens
  • Released: September 1960
  • Label: Columbia
1962Little Jimmy Dickens Sings Out Behind the Barn
  • Released: September 1962
  • Label: Columbia
1965Handle with Care
  • Released: February 1965
  • Label: Columbia
May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose
  • Released: November 1965
  • Label: Columbia
1968Big Man in Country Music
  • Released: 1968
  • Label: Columbia
Little Jimmy Dickens Sings
  • Released: March 1968
  • Label: Decca
1969Jimmy Dickens Comes Callin'
  • Released: February 1969
  • Label: Decca
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.

Compilation albums

YearAlbum detailsChart positions
US Country
1957Raisin' the Dickens
  • Released: November 1957
  • Label: Columbia
1966 Little Jimmy Dickens' Greatest Hits
  • Released: 1966
  • Label: Columbia
1969Greatest Hits
  • Released: 1969
  • Label: Decca
1976Hymns of the Hour
  • Released: 1976
  • Label: Quantum
1983Historic Edition
  • Released: 1983
  • Label: Columbia
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.


YearSongPeak positionsAlbum
US Country US
1949"Take an Old Cold 'Tater (And Wait)"7Raisin' the Dickens
"Country Boy"7
"My Heart's Bouquet"10Big Songs by Little Jimmy Dickens
"A-Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed"6Raisin' the Dickens
1950"A Rose from the Bride's Bouquet"Non-album singles
"Hillbilly Fever"3
"F-o-o-l-i-sh Me"
"Walk Chicken, Walk"
"Out of Business"
"I'm Little, but I'm Loud"Raisin' the Dickens
1951"Cold Feet"Non-album singles
"What About You"
"Sign of the Highway"
"Poor Little Darlin'"
"Old Rugged Cross" (with the Johnson Family Singers)
1952"They Locked God Outside the Iron Curtain"
"Lola Lee"
"Hot Diggity Dog"
"Waitress, Waitress"
"Take Up Thy' Cross"Old Country Church
"No Tears in Heaven"
"Wedding Bell Waltz"Non-album single
1953"I Shall Not Be Moved"Old Country Church
"Sidemeat and Cabbage"Non-album singles
"I'm Making Love to a Stranger"
"Thick and Thin"
"No Place Like Home on Christmas"
1954"That Little Old Country Church House"Old Country Church
"Y'All Come Home"Non-album singles
"You Better Not Do That"
"Out Behind the Barn"9Raisin' the Dickens
"Blackeyed Joe's"Non-album singles
"Stinky Pass the Hat Around"
1955"Salty Boogie"
"We Could"
"I'm Braver Now"
1956"Hey Worm (You Wanna Wiggle)"
"Big Sandy"
"Country Boy Bounce" (with the Country Boys)
"Cornbread and Buttermilk"
"Say It Now"
"Raisin' the Dickens" (with the Country Boys)
1957"I Never Had the Blues"
"Makin' the Rounds"
"Family Reunion"
1958"(I Got a) Hole in My Pocket"
1959"When Your House Is Not a Home"
"Hey Ma (Hide the Daughter)"
1960"We Lived It Up"
"Fireball Mail"Big Songs by Little Jimmy Dickens
1961"Talking to the Wall"Non-album single
1962"Twenty Cigarettes"Out Behind the Barn
"The Violet and the Rose"10
"Police, Police"Non-album single
1963"Another Bridge to Burn"28Handle with Care'
1964"I Leaned Over Backwards for You"
"Is Goodbye That Easy to Say"
1965"He Stands Real Tall"21
"May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" [A] 115May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose
1966"When the Ship Hit the Sand"27103Greatest Hits
"Who Licked the Red Off Your Candy"41Big Man in Country Music
"Where the Buffalo Trud"
1967"Country Music Lover"23
"Jenny Needs a G-String (For Her Old Guitar)"
"Daddy and the Wine"Little Jimmy Dickens Sings
1968"I Love Lucy Brown"
"How to Catch an African Skeeter Alive"69Little Jimmy Dickens Comes Callin'
"Someday You'll Call My Name"
"When You're Seventeen"55Greatest Hits (1966)
1969"Times Are Gonna Get Better"Non-album singles
1970"(You've Been Quite a Doll) Raggedy Ann"75
"Everyday Family Man"70
1971"Here It Comes Again"
"You Only Want Me for My Body"
1972"Try It, You'll Like It"61
1973"Dear Skunk"
1978"How Much is That Picture of Jesus?"
Dash denotes releases that did not chart.

Notes A ^ "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" also peaked at number 4 on the Canadian RPM Top Singles Chart.


YearSongPeak positionsA-Side Single
US Country
1949"Pennies for Papa"12"Take an Old Cold 'Tater (And Wait)"
1962"Honky Tonk Troubles"25"The Violet and the Rose"

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  3. "Little Jimmy Dickens, Oldest Grand Ole Opry Cast Member, Dead at 94". Associated Press via Billboard. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  4. Mansfield, Brian. "Country Great "Little" Jimmy Dickens Dies at 94". USA Today. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
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