TAMARACK: The Best of West Virginia will host the state’s commemoration of Little Jimmy Dickens on Friday, Mar. 7, in the Gov. Hulett C. Smith Theater. Tickets are $5.
Well-known musicians will perform songs from Dickens’ repertoire, according to Tamarack Events Director Kelly Elkins. Former television news anchor Bob Brunner will emcee the event, which will feature The Carpenter Ants, John Lilly, Robert Shafer, Russ Hicks, Billy Boggs, John Thornton and Billy Payne. The event is sponsored by the WV Music Hall of Fame and WTNJ FM 105.9.
Dickens, who died last month, was the oldest member of the Grand Ole Opry, but even in retirement hosted the weekend shows. He was the first country music entertainer to have circled the globe performing. He performed on many country music television shows, most recently as a sidekick to West Virginia’s own, Brad Paisley.
Born on Dec. 19, 1920, Little Jimmie Dickens was raised in Bolt, the youngest of 13 children. His mother and three uncles played guitar. “From childhood on, I wanted to be an entertainer. And I set out to do that when I was still in high school,” he said.
In high school Dickens played on the basketball team in spite of his sub-5-foot stature and his 85-pound frame. President of Trap Hill High School’s senior class in 1940, he turned down a drama scholarship to WVU and an offer to become a professional jockey. By then, he was already appearing on radio stations.
From 1949, many of his songs were ranked on the Billboard magazine’s top 10. “Tater,” “Country Boy,” “Pennies for Papa,” “My Heart’s Bouquet,” “Out Behind the Barn,” “I’m Little But I’m Loud” and “It May Be Silly (But Ain’t It Fun)” are among the most well-known Dickens’ songs.
His 1965 recording of novelty song “May the Bird of Paradise Fly up Your Nose” became his only number one ranked country hit, and it crossed into the Top 20 of Billboard’s pop chart as well.
Many country music stars eulogized Little Jimmie Dickens, among them Brad Paisley who said, “My hero. Do not mourn Little Jim. Celebrate him. Relive and share the memories. Aspire to be like him.”
For information and tickets to the Little Jimmie Dickens Tribute, call 304-256-6843. Located at Exit 45 off I-77/64 in Beckley, Tamarack offers shopping for WV handcrafts, a fine art gallery, a restaurant, conference center space and a full agenda of special events. Visit tamarackwv.com and join Tamarack’s Facebook page for details.