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 living in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1947-48, Dickens was invited by Roy Acuff, the King of the Hillbillies, to join the show.

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’ time 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.

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

3 Comments. Leave new

  • 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

    Reply
  • Wayne Dutton
    April 29, 2022 5:45 pm

    I saw Little Jimmy Dickens perform live at the opera house in Gladwin, Michigan, in 1947 when I was 8.

    Reply

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