Little Jimmy Dickens Celebrates the Big 9-0
Happy birthday to Little Jimmy Dickens! The country music legend, who currently reigns as the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry, turned 90 this weekend (December 19), and hosted a celebration in downtown Nashville to mark the occasion.
The afternoon soiree, held at Rippy's BBQ in the heart of Music City, included an appearance by Little Jimmy's good friend Brad Paisley, who surprised him with a birthday cake and a Martin guitar. Jimmy capped off the evening's festivities by hosting the Opry, held at the Ryman Auditorium, with special guests Steel Magnolia, John Conlee, Marty Stuart, Bill Anderson and Jeannie Seely.
Little Jimmy Dickens, whose real name is James Cecil Dickens, released his first single more than 60 years ago, long before the days of computers, cable television and mp3 players. And even though his career has outlasted 12 U.S. presidents and more than six decades of Opry history, the 'I'm Little but I'm Loud' singer still fondly -- and vividly -- recalls the moment he first heard himself on the radio.
"Oh my, that would have been in 1949," Jimmy tells The Boot. "I don't remember where I was exactly, but I do know one thing -- it was a great feeling to know that I had recorded a song that I had been doing for years before I came here to the Opry. Then it came out and did well for us, and kind of branded me as a novelty singer. 'Take an Old, Cold Tater (and Wait)' is the name of the song."
Brad Paisley, who has cast the 4'11" tall Little Jimmy in several of his humorous videos, including 'Alcohol' and 'Celebrity,' credits his longtime pal with shaping his own multi-platinum-selling career. "When I get ready to record an album, I start thinking about what I want to say [that] I haven't said," Brad explains. "When you get to be buddies with Keith Urban and great friends with Carrie Underwood, and then friends with Jimmy Dickens and Bill Anderson and that generation of country music stars ... well, I've been lucky enough to get to know all of them. That's my inspiration."
Little Jimmy Dickens, who joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983, and renewed his wedding vows with wife Mona in 1996 (for their 25th wedding anniversary) on the Opry stage, still performs there regularly. Check here for his upcoming appearances.