Vince Gill, Jabbo’s Telecaster and the Jimmy Dickens Connection
Submitted by Don Graham
Vince Gill has been playing his song ‘Go Rest High on That Mountain’ at memorials like George Jones’ and his latest performance of the song was at the Grand Ole Opry’s Jan. 8th Memorial Service for Little Jimmy Dickens. The moment was already very moving but what was even more poignant was the guitar Vince played to accompany himself.
“Jimmy had so many great musicians who played with him,” Gill recalled. “In the earliest band, when he first got here, he played with two great guitar players, Grady Martin and a fellow named Jabbo Arrington.”Jabbo Arrington, Jimmy Dickens and Grady Martin along with ‘A Team’ bassist Bob Moore and Thumbs Carllile, made up the Country Boys band.
“Jabbo unfortunately passed away as a young man, and that crushed Jimmy,” Gill said. “Sixty years later, I get a phone call from a family that I don’t know, and they said, ‘We’re the Arrington family, and one of our family members, Jabbo, played with Jimmy, back in the day, when he first came to the Opry … and we have his old guitar and wondered if you would be interested in it.’”
For Gill the question required little thought. Vince purchased the Telecaster but the Arrington’s family had just one request: They asked Gill if it was possible that the guitar be played at the Opry one more time. As it turned out, both Dickens and Gill were set to play the Opry the same evening that Gill received the guitar.
“I went to Jimmy and said, ‘I don’t know if you recognize this, but this was Jabbo’s guitar that he used to play with you. Could I come out and play one song with you tonight?’” Gill says. “So the last time I got to play on the stage with Jimmy, I played this guitar.”
You can bet Little Jimmy Dickens was smiling down from heaven as Vince played Jabbo’s old guitar as he sang to Jimmy “ Go Rest High On That Mountain.” A beautiful moment in time.