Country Music Hall Of Famer Jimmy Dean was a country music star, a television host and a successful businessman. Dean became best known for his 1961 recitation song about a heroic miner, “Big Bad John”. Recorded in Nashville, the record went to #1 on the Billboard Pop Charts selling over a million copies and inspiring many imitations and parodies.
In the early 1960′s Jimmy began making television appearances, including guest hosting for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. After a few successful hosting gigs, Jimmy learned that he and Variety Show Mega-Producer Bob Banner had the same agent. Soon after they met, The Jimmy Dean Show was born. Being the very first Country Music Variety Show, Banner and Dean worked closely with ABC to inject Country as a nationally accepted genre by carefully mixing pop artists and modern comic superstars with the best Country performers.
Jimmy Dean was also one of the first TV hosts to spotlight songwriters such as Eddy Arnold and Roger Miller as well as give Jim Henson his first break with Rowlf The Dog. On the heels of his successful television career, Jimmy and his brother Don founded Jimmy Dean Sausage in 1969 which went on to make Jimmy one of the biggest household names of a generation
Jimmy died at the age of 81 on June 13, 2010 at his Red Roof Inn in Varina, Virginia. He was entombed in a piano-shaped mausoleum overlooking the James River on the grounds of his estate. His epitaph reads “Here Lies One Hell Of A Man”, which is a quote from a lyric on his uncensored version of the song “Big Bad John”.
He was survived by his second wife Donna Dean who has recently donated a generous endowment to build The Jimmy Dean Museum, which is scheduled to open in Jimmy’s hometown of Plainview, Texas some time in 2014.