72 Years Ago: Little Jimmy Dickens Becomes a Member of the Grand Ole Opry
Seventy-two years ago today, on Nov. 6, 1948, Little Jimmy Dickens undoubtedly had one big celebration. It was on that date that the then-28-year-old became an official member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Dickens made his Opry debut on Feb. 21, 1948, during which he performed “John Henry” and “I Dreamed of an Old Love Affair.” That first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry stage came after the diminutive singer spent most of his teenage and young adult years performing as Jimmy the Kid on radio stations all over the country.
A West Virginia native, Dickens remained a regular performer on the Opry stage for much of his life. "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," Dickens said. “We do our very, very best to give them a good presentation and hope that they enjoy themselves."
Dickens died on Jan. 2, 2015. His last performance was on the Opry stage on Dec. 20, 2014, to celebrate his 94th birthday. From the age of 90 until his death, he was the oldest living Opry member.
“The Grand Ole Opry did not have a better friend than Little Jimmy Dickens,” said Pete Fisher, Opry vice president and general manager at the time of Dickens' death. “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.”
Dickens' funeral was held at the Grand Ole Opry and featured tributes from Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Vince Gill and more.
This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Annie Zaleski.
LOOK: Little Jimmy Dickens Through the Years