Remembering Little Jimmy Dickens

My Grand Ole Opry Memory – Meeting Little Jimmy Dickens

Yesterday, not just country music, but the music community as a whole lost a legend.  It is without a doubt that a lot of folks can share their own story or two of Little Jimmy Dickens.  The Grand Ole Opry star passed away at the age of 94 years old.  I have been a fan of his for many years and was fortunate to have met him.

The first time I saw Little Jimmy Dickens, I was on the front row and center of the Grand Ole Opry House for an Opry performance in 2005.  I remember him looking down and waving at me.  Yep, I had to giggle because I’m sure he was waving at someone else, but for that moment I said “Little Jimmy just waved at me!”

Little Jimmy Dickens in 2005 at the Grand Ole Opry – By Jessica Blankenship

On down the years, while visiting Nashville, I always took time to do a tour of the Opry House and take a photo of his dressing room door.  In 2011, my pal, Sunny Sweeney, invited me to be her guest for one of her performances.  I told her I would come, but only if I got to meet Little Jimmy Dickens.  Needless to say, she made it happen.  Right after her performance, we walked the halls backstage and she knocked on his door politely.  Little Jimmy Dickens gave her a hug and she said that she wanted to introduce him to a friend of hers.  I stood there absolutely speechless and for once in my life (besides meeting Dolly Parton), I had no words.  I was like a kid standing there in amazement.

Meeting Little Jimmy Dickens backstage at the Grand Ole Opry

I finally blubbered, “In all my 30 years, my only new years resolution was to meet you.  And now that dream has come true and I don’t know what to do!”  He cracked up and said “well bless your heart darlin’.”  Yes, Little Jimmy Dickens called me darlin’. He gave me a hug and here I was trying to compose myself and not sound like an idiot.  He asked where I was from, how did I know Sunny, and a few other things.  I let him know that I was just so thrilled to meet him. Thankfully one of my buddies had my camera and took a few photos.

We said our goodbyes and I was still on cloud 9.  At another performance of Sunny Sweeney at the Opry, we thought we would catch him, but he was heading down the hallway leaving.  I remember standing there telling her that it looked like Little Jimmy Dickens took off his country music super hero outfit of rhinestones and is now off to face the world in his plain jacket, dress shirt, and jeans.

Little Jimmy Dickens – by Jessica Blankenship

I will never forget the time my mom told me about meeting Little Jimmy Dickens.  A while back, we had an “amusement park” type deal called Tombstone Junction, just past Cumberland Falls in Corbin, KY.  A lot of entertainers would perform, from Conway Twitty to Loretta Lynn and Johnny Cash.  My mom was helping out a relative sell fruit and veggies at a roadside stand on the way to Tombstone Junction.  She said that a bus pulled up one afternoon and here comes Little Jimmy Dickens off the bus.  He ends up buying a watermelon off of her.  I still crack up thinking that my momma sold a watermelon to Little Jimmy Dickens.

We will all remember his jokes, his laughter, his stories, his music, but most of all, his kindness.  Little Jimmy Dickens outlived so many in the country music world – from Hank Williams to Patsy Cline to Waylon Jennings to Johnny Cash to George Jones.  In fact, Hank Williams, Sr. was the one that gave him the nickname of “Tater.”  Little Jimmy’s impact on the music community will be felt for a long time and will be dearly missed on the Grand Ole Opry.

Rest in peace Little Jimmy Dickens.