Little Jimmy Dickens Dies As The Longest-Running Opry Performer
This photo of Little Jimmy Dickens was taken at the Grand Ole Opry in September of 2014. He was inducted as an Opry member in 1948 and has played nearly continuously on the show. Credit: Opry

Little Jimmy Dickens Dies As The Longest-Running Opry Performer

This photo of Little Jimmy Dickens was taken at the Grand Ole Opry in September of 2014. He was inducted as an Opry member in 1948 and has played nearly continuously on the show. Credit: Opry
This photo of Little Jimmy Dickens was taken at the Grand Ole Opry in September of 2014. He was inducted as an Opry member in 1948 and has played nearly continuously on the show. Credit: Opry

Since 1948, Little Jimmy Dickens was a mainstay at the Grand Ole Opry, including a show he played Dec. 20 to celebrate his 94th birthday.

The 4-foot-11 singer was known for his sense of humor, even in songs, often cracking jokes about his stature.

“I’m puny, short and little but I’m loud,” he sang in one of his oldest hits.

Other tunes had lines like “may the bird of paradise fly up your nose.” A song called “Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait” won him the nickname “Tater.”

But Dickens told West Virginia Public Broadcasting that his quirky songs always overshadowed his more serious work.

“DJs knew me as the little funny guy, and they couldn’t picture me doing the ballad songs,” he said in an interview.

Country music did honor Dickens by electing him into the Hall of Fame in 1983.

Dickens was hospitalized after suffering a stroke Christmas Day, according to a news release from the Opry. He ultimately died of cardiac arrest. He’s survived by his wife Mona, who he married in 1971.

Despite being from a much older generation, Dickens befriended younger artists and was especially close with fellow West Virginia native Brad Paisley.

Opry general manager Pet Fisher called Dickens a “one-of-a-kind entertainer.”

“The Grand Ole Opry did not have a better friend than Little Jimmy Dickens,” Fisher said in a statement. “He loved the audience and his Opry family, and all of us loved him back.”

Blake Farmer

Blake Farmer is WPLN's assistant news director, but he wears many hats - reporter, editor and host. He covers the Tennessee state capitol while also keeping an eye on Fort Campbell and business trends, frequently contributing to national programs. Born in Tennessee and educated in Texas, Blake has called Nashville home for most of his life.
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