James Cecil Dickens (December 19, 1920 – January 2, 2015) better known as Little Jimmy Dickens, was an American country music singer famous for his humorous novelty songs, his small size, 4'11" (150 cm), and his rhinestone-studded outfits. He started as a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1948 and became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983. Before his death he was the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Born in Bolt, West Virginia, Dickens, who is related to Charles Dickens, began his musical career in the late 1930s, performing on a local radio station while attending West Virginia University. He soon quit school to pursue a full-time music career, and travelled the country performing on various local radio stations under the name "Jimmy the Kid."
In 1948, Dickens was heard performing on a radio station in Saginaw, Michigan by Roy Acuff, who 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.
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." His song "Take an Old Cold Tater (And Wait)" inspired Hank Williams to nickname him "Tater". Later, telling Jimmy he needed a hit, Williams penned "Hey Good Lookin'" specifically for Dickens in only 20 minutes while on a Grand Ole Opry tour bus. A week later Williams cut the song himself, jokingly telling him, "That song's too good for you!"
|Hank Williams and Jimmy|
In 1962 Dickens released "The Violet and the Rose," his first top ten single in 12 years.
During 1964 he became the first country artist to circle the globe while on tour, and also made numerous TV appearances including The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. In 1965 he released his biggest hit, "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose," reaching number one on the country chart and number fifteen on the pop chart.
He joined 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 on the CD released on Sonlite and MGM/UA for one of the most popular Christmas releases of 1991 and 1992 with Southern retailers.
Toward the end of his life, Dickens made appearances in a number of music videos by fellow 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 and his own short stature. At the 2011 CMA Awards, Jimmy was dressed up as Justin Bieber, and made fun of Bieber's then-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. He died of cardiac arrest on January 2, 2015, at the age of 94. He is survived by his wife, Mona Dickens, who he married in 1971, and two daughters, Pamela Detert and Lisa King. 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. (Info Wikipedia)