Fans of Classic Country know that Little Jimmy Dickens was a big part of that time frame’s musical history. As part of the celebration of the Ryman’s 125th anniversary, a broze statue of the pioneer in country music was revealed today. Dickens became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1948 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983. At the time of his death in 2015, he was the oldest living member of the Opry.
Because of his big footsteps left behind, long-time friend Brad Paisley spoke at today’s unveiling.
“This was a man who was honing his craft before Hank Williams, who we sort of credit as the father of modern country music in many ways,” said Paisley during the unveiling today. “He saw everything in those decades that he stood on that stage, like Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn and Garth Brooks. By the time Jimmy left us, he had become the Grand Ole Opry. On a night that he wasn’t there, you were cheated out of something and he knew that. He realized when he was well enough to do it, he went. He knew that he owed it to the younger generation that wanted to see him, it was another lesson in how you entertain people. He gave them everything that he had on that stage and in this building for many many years. So I think it’s really appropriate that he’s going to be one of the statues that’s a permanent reminder of what we should be in this building.”
Bill Monroe, the father of Bluegrass, was a gifted singer, songwriter and player. The genre is named after Monroe’s band, the Blue Grass Boys. His band was named after Monroe’s home state of Kentucky.
His career ran for 69 years before he passed away at 84 years old, in September of 1996. Monroe’s most famous classics include “Blue Grass Breakdown,” “My Rose of Old Kentucky,” and Monroe’s most famous composition, “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”
Monroe was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970, and he settled into a role as a musical patriarch influencing generations of young musicians including Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, and the Oak Ridge Boys.
Ricky Skaggs was only six years old in 1960, when he first got to perform on stage with Monroe and his band at the high school in Martha, Kentucky.
Skaggs shared this during the unveiling of Bill Monroe’s statue:
I don’t know if you ever get another Bill Monroe in a century,” said Skaggs. “There’s not a lot of people that I know of who could be cited as creating a whole new genre of music, but he did. He had the ear to hear it, the talent to play it and the heart to keep it alive because he was strong, he was powerful. I don’t know any person who could have withstood, pushed through and made it like him. He had music in his veins. It was the thing that pushed him so much. It wasn’t just to make a living. It was to get something out of him and take to people that he loved, and that was the fans that loved this music. I have traveled all over the world into places you would think that bluegrass music would never make it to … and you meet someone there that actually plays the music. So this music has totally gone around the world.