Vince Gill Shares a Sweet Memory of Little Jimmy Dickens
"I recently got to acquire an old Fender Broadcaster, and the serial number of this guitar was 0048 -- one of the very first Fenders that was built. It was owned by a great guitar player named Jabbo Arrington," Gill recalled at an event over the summer. "Jabbo was in a band with Little Jimmy Dickens, back in the late '40s, when Little Jimmy Dickens first came to the Grand Ole Opry ... And, Jabbo had unfortunately passed away back in those days, the early '50s probably -- '50, '51, he passed away. He was Jimmy's first guitar player.
"All these years later -- 60 years later, 50 years later, I don't know how many it's been -- Jabbo's family knows that I play an old Telecaster. They called, got a hold of me, and said, 'We had this guitar that was Jabbo's. It's been under the bed since he died. We wondered if you'd be interested in it?' I said, 'Oh, hell yeah,'" he continues. "So they brought it to Nashville, and they showed it to me. It was beautiful. We agreed that I would buy it.
"And they said, 'Our dream is to have this guitar played on the Opry one more time.' And so I said, 'I can make that happen tonight,'" Gill concludes. "I went to Little Jimmy Dickens, who was getting ready to go on. I said, 'Do you mind if I come out and play with you tonight?' He said, 'How come?' and I said, 'Well this guitar that I'm buying was Jabbo's.' He said, 'My Jabbo?' So the last time I got to play with Little Jimmy Dickens, I was playing on Jabbo's guitar with him."
"I knew right away what I had to do," Gill explains of the decision. "... So here was the guitar that played with Jimmy when he first came to the Opry in the late '40s, and it was the same guitar that took him out of the Opry when he was 94 years old."
Now, the guitar serves as a tangible reminder of Gill's long-standing friendship with the country music icon.
“He might have been the best ever that ever graced this stage. He was everybody's favorite," Gill says. "We should all aspire to be so kind as Jimmy Dickens."
Little Jimmy Dickens Through the Years