‘Little’ Jimmy Dickens, the oldest cast member of the Grand Ole Opry, has died. He was 94.
The singer-songwriter suffered a stroke on Christmas Day and then died of cardiac arrest in a Nashville area hospital, his representative told TheWrap.
Dickens had been performing at the Opry almost continuously since 1948, and made his last appearance on Dec. 20 as part of his birthday celebration, when he sang “Out Behind the Barn.”
“The Grand Ole Opry did not have a better friend than Little Jimmy Dickens,” said Pete Fisher, Opry Vice President & 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.”
Born James Cecil Dickens in Bolt, West Virginia, in 1920, the singer earned his nickname due to his 4’11” stature. He began his career singing on the WJLS radio station, and joined the Opry in 1948, while also signing with Columbia records.
Among his most popular songs were “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose,” “A-Sleepin’ at the Foot of the Bed,” ”Out Behind the Barn,” ”Country Boy” and “I’m Little But I’m Loud.”
Dickens is survived by his wife, Mona, and two daughters, Pamela Detert and Lisa King.
Read the full statement below:
Grand Ole Opry star Little Jimmy Dickens passed away this afternoon at a Nashville area hospital at the age of 94. Jimmy died of cardiac arrest after suffering a stroke on Christmas Day. He is survived by his wife Mona Dickens, married since 1971, and two daughters, Pamela Detert and Lisa King. Jimmy was the longest running member of the Opry, joining in 1948, and last performed at the Opry on Dec. 20, 2014, singing “Out Behind The Barn” and delivering his trademark comedy. Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time, however a public visitation and a public service is being planned.
“The Grand Ole Opry did not have a better friend than Little Jimmy Dickens,” shared Pete Fisher, Opry Vice President & 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.”
In a recent quote, Jimmy expressed his love for the Opry. “I look forward from one weekend to another to get back out on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and try to entertain people who have come from miles and miles and state to state to be entertained with country music. We do our very, very best to give them a good presentation and hope that they enjoy themselves.”
Jimmy was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983. Among his enduring classics are “Take An Old Cold Tater (And Wait),” “Country Boy,” “Out Behind The Barn,” and “May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose.”