By Sandy Laumeyer
Just A Thought 

Little Jimmy Dickens


The music world has lost a true legend with the passing of Little Jimmy Dickens. No one promoted the Grand Ole Opry and country music any more than the diminutive Dickens.

During the early 1960s, the KRNT Theatre in Des Moines, Iowa, hosted a country music show the first Sunday of every month from September through May. My mother loved hearing Dickens sing, so when I saw that Dickens was on the schedule, I immediately purchased tickets for us. When he came out on the stage, my mother was completely mesmerized. Afterwards she told me that day was one she would remember forever.

In May of 2006, I went to Nashville to meet up with some friends from my chat room. A night at the Grand Ole Opry was naturally on our list of places to go. That night I was on cloud nine. I had waited 45 years to get to go to the Grand Ole Opry.

The list of performers was impressive. Porter Wagoner, Marty Stuart, Jean Shepherd, Bill Anderson, Ricky Skaggs, Mel McDaniel, Connie Smith, the Whites, and a surprise appearance by Earl Scruggs. And Little Jimmy Dickens.

Eddie Stubbs was the announcer that night and you could hear the deep respect he had for Dickens when he announced him. The stage lights reflected off all the rhinestones and sequins of the blue suit that Dickens wore. He received a standing ovation at the beginning and end of his performance.

Dickens was the first country music singer to introduce rhinestone studded suits for Grand Ole Opry stars. That apparel became a standard for country music singers. One of Dickens's suits is in a glass case at the Ryman Auditorium.

In an interview Stubbs had with Porter Wagoner, Wagoner was asked about the fantastic suits he and Dickens always wore.

Wagoner's reply was, "Jimmy and I believe we should be well dressed when we are singing for our fans. Many of them have come long distances to see us. It's our way of showing them our respect. When I see a performer come out on stage in a T-shirt and jeans with holes I just shudder. After all, they are appearing in front of the people who buy their music and go to see them in concert. They should be more considerate of their fans."

I found myself nodding in agreement with Wagoner. If a performer does not like the rhinestone and sequin embellished suits, then they should at least be dressed in tasteful apparel.

Charlie Pride commented at one of his concerts I attended that the shine and glitz of the suits such as country music performers like Wagoner and Dickens were not for him. He said he much prefers nice dress slacks and a sweater.

Pride continued, "We have been invited by our fans to sing for them. So we should be very aware of our attire.

Being able to see Dickens in person was something I'll always remember. He set an example and code not only for other singers, but also for everyone in the way he lived his life.


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