The funeral for Little Jimmy Dickens took place on Thursday at the Grand Ole Opry, the stage where he performed regularly for decades until shortly before his death at age 94. Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Vince Gill,Steve Wariner, Chris Young, Old Crow Medicine Show,and other stars sang songs and told stories about the 4-foot-11 showman in the nearly two-hour service.
The country legend - who suffered a stroke on Christmas - died of a heart attack on January 2 at age 94. That same day, Carrie Underwood tweeted: 'I know why it's raining in Nashville. Little Jimmy is in heaven now making the Angels laugh so hard, they're crying. We'll miss you, friend!' During the service, Underwood joins Vince Gill as they croon a touching version of Gill's hit "Go Rest High on the Mountain."
"When you're young and someone's kind to you like that, you never forget it," Gill said, recalling his own early experiences with Dickens. Then he asked the group of several hundred mourners, "Let me have a show of hands ? who all thought that Little Jimmy Dickens was your best friend?"
One of Dickens' friends included gold-medal Olympic figure skater Scott Hamilton, who joked that he and Dickens hit it off because they were both short and "we both made a living performing in lots of beads and spangles."
Eddie Stubbs, who gave the eulogy, praised Dickens' talent as a balladeer and noted that when Dickens first began performing in 1938, there were people listening to him who had been alive during the Civil War."His loss is incalculable to country music. It represents the end of an era. Within his lifetime the entire country music industry happened." Stubbs and others also spoke of how tough Dickens was, growing up poor in West Virginia, sometimes struggling in his early years as a performer and suffering from numerous health problems. "The joy of bringing happiness to others sustained him in good times and bad," Stubbs said.
At the closing, Brad Paisley teared up before leading a group of performers in singing "Will the Circle be Unbroken," a tradition that he said Dickens started."At 94, your journey has ended," Paisley said, stopping to choke back tears, "but we'll take it from here, little buddy."