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Some Good News: Little Jimmy Dickens, Bill Monroe Have Statues Outside Of Ryman Auditorium

June 9, 2017

In the midst of all the heavy news that makes us wonder how bad can it get comes something to lift our sails.

The word of the week was  “inspiration” at the Ryman Auditorium to best describe the legacies of Little Jimmy Dickens and Bill Monroe, who now have life-size bronze statues outside of the historic landmark and help celebrate the Ryman’s 125th anniversary. Dickens’ statue is on display next to Café Lula while Monroe is featured at the opposite side near the main entrance.

Both Brad Paisley and Ricky Skaggs have personal connections to the stars they were honoring. Dickens had been a longtime mentor and friend to the contemporary country star, with emcee Bill Cody citing a special memory of when Paisley welcomed Dickens “home” when they returned to the Opry circle after repairing the historic venue from the devastating flood in 2010. “This is a man who his tenure, his time, in our format is an amazing accomplishment in itself, but we forget how important he was to country music as we know it,” Paisley said on behalf of his friend.

The “Today” singer hailed Dickens’ career, saying he witnessed a variety of changes in the genre across his multi-decade tenure in the genre, which included several top 10 hits, in addition to being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1948, making him the oldest living member up until his death in 2015. In spite of the ebb and flow of change, there was always one element that remained constant: Dickens’ loyalty to the Opry. “I think it’s really appropriate that he’s one of the statues that are going to be a sort of reminder of what we should be in this building,” Paisley says. “By the time that Jimmy left us, he had become the Grand Ole Opry.”

Skaggs has an equally sentimental connection to Monroe, who actually got to perform with the bluegrass legend when he was just six years old in his hometown of Martha, Ken. Skaggs even got to wear Monroe’s leather bootstring while playing “Ruby Are You Mad at Your Man” during a night he’ll never forget. “I don’t think he knew what he did, but I knew what he did to me,” Skaggs said about the special story, who managed to strike up a close friendship with Monroe after moving to Nashville.

Known as the “Father of Bluegrass,” Monroe spent nearly 70 years spearheading the genre, leading him to be inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with a string of hit songs and countless other honors. “I don’t know if you ever get another Bill Monroe in a century. There’s not a lot of people that I know of and that can be cited as creating a whole new genre of music, but he did,” Skaggs praises of Monroe. “He had the ear to hear it, he had the talent to play it, he had the heart to keep it alive because he was strong, he was powerful.”

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