Country stars sing adieu to Grand Ole Opry's Little Jimmy Dickens

Thu Jan 8, 2015 6:02pm EST
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By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE (Reuters) - Country music stars sang a farewell on Thursday to Grand Ole Opry icon Little Jimmy Dickens, who died last week at 94 after decades performing at the landmark Nashville venue.

Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Vince Gill, Steve Wariner, Chris Young and Old Crow Medicine Show took the stage near Dickens' casket in songful tribute during a two-hour memorial service.

When it was over, the curtain was lowered and Dickens left the stage for the last time at the theater where he brought laughter and toe-tapping to country fans for generations.

Dickens - who sang novelty numbers such as "Out Behind the Barn," and "May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" as well as traditional country hits - joined the Opry in 1948.

The comical 4-foot-11-inch performer died Jan. 2 of cardiac arrest at a Nashville hospital after suffering a stroke on Christmas Day.

"We need to remember that smile, that personality and that one-of-a-kind sense of humor," said Paisley, who was among the younger generation of performers who embraced Dickens, the Opry's oldest living member.

Underwood broke into tears after telling a story about how her mother warned her to "watch out for Little Jimmy Dickens, because he likes the pretty girls" before her first Opry appearance. She went on to say her hero kissed her hand every time he saw her.

Underwood and Gill sang the latter's "Go Rest High On That Mountain," which has become a staple of country music funerals.   Continued...

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