Little Jimmy Dickens, the country music legend who was the oldest member of the famed Grand Ole Opry, died this weekend. He was 94 years old. Dickens had been in the hospital after suffering a stroke on Christmas Day, just a week after turning 94.
Born into a large family in West Virginia, Dickens’ career started in radio broadcasting while he was attending college at the University of West Virginia. In 1948, Dickens signed his first deal with Columbia Records, and he was later invited to perform at the Opry by the great Roy Acuff. Dickens’ music demonstrated a longevity unheard of in music today, scoring his first hit single in 1949 and still appearing on the charts decades later.
Dickens was well-loved in the country music community up until the end: in recent years, he participated in humorous bits at the Opry with Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Trace Adkins, and others. In a statement, Paisley called Dickens his “hero” and said that he “will remember the human being that best check-marked all the boxes of a complete and wonderful life.”
Dickens is survived by his wife, Mona Dickens, whom he married in 1971, and his two daughters.