71 Years Ago: Little Jimmy Dickens Makes His Grand Ole Opry Debut
Seventy-one years ago today (Feb. 21, 1948) was an historic day for Little Jimmy Dickens: It was on that date that the then-27-year-old made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry, performing "John Henry" and "I Dreamed of an Old Love Affair."
Dickens began his career as a teenager, under the moniker Jimmy the Kid, performing at radio stations all over the country. From his first time on the Opry stage, when he was introduced by Roy Acuff, Dickens fell in in love with the revered venue. He became a member the following August, switching to the stage name Little Jimmy Dickens.
Dickens went on to release more than a dozen albums and over 70 singles, including the No. 1 song "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose." The West Virginia native was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983, and he remained a mainstay on the Opry stage for 66 years, performing regularly until just before his death on Jan. 2, 2015.
"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 was 94 years old when he died of cardiac arrest; at the time of his death, he was the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry. His memorial service was held at the Opry and included performances and remembrances from Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Carrie Underwood, Steve Wariner, Connie Smith and others.
This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Annie Zaleski.
Little Jimmy Dickens Through the Years