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West Virginia Music Hall of Fame produces Little Jimmy Dickens tribute

Staff report

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — Country and bluegrass hero Little Jimmy Dickens was a true American icon, but he was a West Virginian first.

A 16-song album titled “The Rhinestone Hillbilly” is a tribute to Little Jimmy Dickens. A 12-page booklet accompanies the album.
(Submitted photo)

So when the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in Charleston contacted other HOF inductees and noted Mountain State musicians about recording a tribute to the “little but proud” hillbilly hero, they enthusiastically joined the project, according to a press release from the W.Va. Music Hall of Fame.

The result is a 16-song album titled “The Rhinestone Hillbilly.” A 12-page booklet accompanies the album.

“Growing up in West Virginia in the ’30s and ’40s meant you were living what you heard from Little Jimmy Dickens,” says three-time Grammy winner Bill Withers, who chose Dickens’ chestnut “Raggedy Ann” for his contribution to the album, Withers’ first new recording in decades, the hall of fame said.

“‘Sleeping at the foot of the bed’ was a reality for a lot of us. Your sister had a ‘Raggedy Ann’ doll. And ‘Bird of Paradise’ was almost a quote from your favorite uncle, if his feelings got hurt!” Withers said.

Singer/multi-instrumentalist Tim O’Brien remembers how he’d listened to his Dickens’ Grand Old Opry performances from his parents’ coal camp radio as a child.

Other music luminaries joining Withers and O’Brien on the album include Kathy Mattea, Charlie McCoy, Connie Smith, Russ Hicks, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., Mollie O’Brien, James Price and Larry Groce as well as musician-actress-artist Ann Magnuson and singer-songwriter Todd Burge of Parkersburg. The man they all honor on “The Rhinestone Hillbilly” was there at the early years of country music. Little Jimmy Dickens played with West Virginia group The Happy Valley Folks, in which he was billed as “The Singing Midget,” the hall of fame said.

Along the way, he dipped his toe into rockabilly, pioneered the use of twin guitar hold lines and was known around the globe for his cache of novelty songs, the hall of fame said.

“But most of all, he was a pure singer, the first country music artist to tour the world, a tuneful ambassador of the rural Appalachian experience. The Rhinestone Hillbilly mirrors the broad influence and respect that Little Jimmy Dickens’ music commands until this day,” the hall of fame said.

Dickens was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2007. He was born in Bolt, W.Va., and died in 2015.

The album, produced by Michael Lipton and Don Dixon, costs $15, plus $3 for postage/handling.

More information is available at

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