Singer was oldest Grand Ole Opry star
NASHVILLE — Little Jimmy Dickens, a diminutive singer-songwriter known for his sense of humour and as the oldest cast member of the Grand Ole Opry, has died. He was 94.
Dickens died Friday at a Nashvillearea hospital of cardiac arrest after suffering a stroke on Christmas Day, Opry spokeswoman Jessie Schmidt said.
Dickens, who stood 4-foot-11, had performed on the Opry almost continuously since 1948. His last performance was Dec. 20 as part of his birthday celebration.
He sang Out Behind The Barn and delivered his trademark comedy. He had turned 94 a day earlier.
“The Grand Ole Opry did not have a better friend than Little Jimmy Dickens,” said Pete Fisher, Opry vice-president and 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.”
Country legend Hank Williams Sr. nicknamed him “Tater” based on Dickens’ song Take an Old Cold Tater (And Wait).
His novelty songs, including his biggest hit May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose about good and bad luck, earned him a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983.
It crossed over from a country hit to become a hit on the pop charts — a rarity in those days.
Dickens said in a 2009 Associated Press interview that his first impression of the song was “it was a nice piece of material to inject in my show. Then I went to Vietnam (to perform) for two months and when I got home it was my pay: a No. 1 song.”
His other hits included A-Sleepin’ at the Foot of the Bed, Out Behind the Barn, Country Boy and I’m Little But I’m Loud.
He is credited with introducing rhinestone suits to country music around 1950, taking a suggestion from Los Angeles clothing designer Nudie.
“He said that when the lights hit them, the audience would go ‘Wow,’” Dickens recalled in the 2009 interview. “He was 100 per cent right.”