The diminutive Dickens, who turned 94 on December 19th, was admitted to a Nashville area hospital on Christmas with an undisclosed illness, according to a release from the Opry’s publicist. Best known for such irreverent songs as “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose,” his sparkly rhinestone suits and a repertoire of Borscht Belt-worthy one-liners, Dickens has been a Grand Ole Opry member since 1948 and stands as the institution’s oldest living member. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983.
To modern-day country fans, Dickens is most recognizable for his comedy bits with fellow Opry member Brad Paisley and has appeared in a number of CMA Awards skits with the singer-guitarist. At the 2010 CMAs, he emerged from backstage in full snorkeling gear as a nod to the recent Nashville floods.
Dickens last performed on the Opry on December 20th, in honor of his birthday celebration.