Little Jimmy Dickens in Saginaw

It’s been 65 years since Little Jimmy Dickens made his debut on the WSM “Grand Ole Opry” barn dance. While the “Opry” has changed over the years, the 92-year-old Dickens seems as spry and witty as ever. While living in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1947-48, Dickens was invited by none other than Roy Acuff, the King of the Hillbillies, to be his guest on the show, after Dickens impressed Acuff during a Michigan appearance.

WKNX radio band, ca. 1947, Saginaw, Michigan. Source: Keith Cady

A 1947 snapshot from a WKNX show featuring (from left) Buddy Ratcliff, Gene Starr, Jimmy Dickens, Bob Pauley, Casey Clark, and Coy Crank. Source: Keith Cady

Dickens’ months in Saginaw revolved around a new radio station, WKNX, where he performed with his band, served as a radio announcer, and assisted with programming. Fiddler Casey Clark worked in similar capacities for the station managers, and Clark and Dickens often shared musicians in the days before they organized their own bands. Tex Ferguson arrived a few months later, and all three groups played shows together in schools, social halls, and a roller rink in Bad Axe. After his guest appearance at the “Opry,” Dickens moved to Nashville with encouragement from Acuff.

Jimmy Dickens was also one of the first (after Clark) living inductees into the Michigan Country Music Hall of Fame.

The latest word from Nashville is that Dickens is preparing for radiation treatment on his vocal cords. Jimmy Dickens is one of the kindest people we have met in Nashville, and wish him much love and a speedy recovery.

Fans in Detroit, Saginaw, Bad Axe, and elsewhere in Michigan may send cards and notes to:

Jimmy Dickens
c/o Grand Ole Opry House
2804 Opryland Drive
Nashville, TN 37214

[The complete story of Jimmy Dickens at WKNX radio Saginaw is covered in Casey Clark’s biography in the forthcoming book: “Detroit Country Music – Mountaineers, Cowboys, and Rockabillies,” which includes quotes from Dickens himself.]

2 Comments to "Little Jimmy Dickens in Saginaw"

  • Fred Reif
    August 10, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    Dickens apparently lived behind our house, while he was at WKNX. This is according to my dad. It would have been Prescott Street on the Eastside of Saginaw. I don’t remember because I wasn’t born until 1947

    • September 24, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

      Thanks for the comment, Fred! Always appreciate learning new details about the lives of musicians.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.