Today marks the supposed 98th birthday of James Cecil Dickens, or how we know and love as Little Jimmy Dickens. He was famous for his short stature. He was only about 4’11! His small height did not stop him from getting drenched in rhinestones and glamour. Dickens is, in fact, given credit to be the first person to ever wear a studded rhinestone suit in a country music live performance!
Although he had never had a consistent place in the charts, he managed to have a hit in every decade from the 1940’s throughout the 1970’s. And because of this, he became one of the most sought out performers of the Grand Ole Opry where he became a permanent member.
He released his first single, “Take an Old Cold Tate and Wait” in the spring of 1949. The song became a Top Ten hit, skyrocketing his career into the mainstream. He then launched a string of hit novelty, ballad, and honky tonk singles that lasted for about a year, including “Country Boy,” “A-Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed,” and “My Heart’s Bouquet.”
Listen to some of his hits here!
Dickens recorded many novelty songs. His song “Take an Old Cold Tater (And Wait)” inspired Hank Williams to nickname him Tater. It also prompted him to tell Dickens that he needed a hit. Later, Williams wrote “Hey Good Lookin” in only 20 minutes while on a plane with Dickens, Minnie Pearl, and Pearl’s Husband. A week later, Williams recorded the song himself, jokingly telling Dickens, “That song’s too good for you!”
Dickens was the first country artist to circle the globe while on tour. He accomplished this astonishing feat way back in 1964, and made numerous appearances.
Dickens was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983.
He is known as a master of the country novelty song, as well as a renowned ballad singer. He is distinguished by the country music scene as an icon and a legend. Dickens is definitely a trailblazer in the genre, with his short height but large personality, humor, and heart.