Grand Ole Opry star 'Little Jimmy' Dickens dies at 94

Fri Jan 2, 2015 9:44pm EST
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By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE (Reuters) - Grand Ole Opry star "Little Jimmy" Dickens, the longest-running cast member of country music's most venerable venue, died on Friday at the age of 94, the Opry said.

Dickens, a pint-sized comical performer measuring just 4-foot-11 inches, died of cardiac arrest in a Nashville area hospital after he suffered a stroke on Christmas Day.

He joined the Opry in 1948 and last performed on its stage on Dec. 20, the day after his 94th birthday, according to Opry spokeswoman Jessie Schmidt.

Even in his nineties, Dickens remained committed to his duties at the Nashville institution, where his big voice and larger-than-life personality made him a fan favorite.

"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," he said recently, according to the Opry.

  He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983 and inspired some of today's prominent country stars, such as Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.

  Friends including Hank Williams knew him as "Tater" – a nickname that came from early hit "Take An Old Cold Tater (and Wait)."

  Among Dickens's other classics are "Country Boy," "Out Behind the Barn," and "May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose."   Continued...

Little Jimmy Dickens makes a comedic appearance at the 46th Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, Tennessee, November 1, 2012.   REUTERS/Harrison McClary