For the last 20 something years, Jimmy Ray Dean was more famous for his sausages and biscuits than his music, but in my home, he's always been more famous for his music and especially for his hit song, "Big Bad John,"one of our all-time favorites.
The music legend and entrepreneur passed away on Sunday, June 13, 2010 at his home outside Richmond, Va. at the age of 81. His wife, Donna Meade Dean told the Associated Press that Jimmy Dean was just sitting at home, eating and watching TV. She left the room for a little bit and when she returned, to her shock, she found him dead. Besides his wife, Jimmy Dean is survived by three children and two grandchildren, Donna Meade Dean said. Arrangements have not be made, but it will be a private service, she said.
Jimmy Dean was born in Plainview, Texas in 1928. He dropped out of high school to help support his family and later went to a successful career in country music, which included his own TV show, "The Jimmy Dean Show." Elvis Presley appeared on his show once and Jimmy humorously recounted what a hard time he had getting anything out of Elvis other than a "yep" or a "nope." But even before that, in 1961, everyone was singing the lyrics about the big coal miner from Lou'siana when "Big Bad John" topped all the charts, not just the country ones:
"Every morning at the mine, you could see him arrive / He stood 6'6 and weighed 245.
Kinda broad in the shoulders and narrow at the hip / And everybody knew you didn't give no lip to Big John
"Big Bad John" gave rise to many parodies, there's one about John Wayne and the latest I've seen is being used to discredit Texas Senator, John Cornyn. "Bad is right." I even had my own parody of "Big Bad John" about my son and his big appetite, that went something along the lines of eating 45 doughnuts and a box of Cap'n Crunch, then he'd say that was good, Mom - What's for lunch? (I still know the song, but my son will kill me).
When a fire destroyed the home of Jimmy and Donna Dean in 2009, I was happy to hear that Jimmy's Grammy for "Big Bad John," and a lot of other things he held dear, were saved.
Source: Associated Press / EpGold