Every now and then a song captures the imagination of listeners by telling a story. One such success was Big Bad John in 1961. The spoken word record topped both the pop and country charts and even made it up to #2 in the UK.
Jimmy Dean’s recording career started out with him actually singing on Bumming Around in 1952, but his biggest record was that story of a big, big miner who saved the other miners when a mine collapsed around them. He released a few other records that year, but in early 1962 he released a record that was a sequel to Big John: The Cajun Queen. The new record ignored the sad ending of the original and told the story of how John’s lady came to save him. It wasn’t exactly a big hit, only reaching #22 on the pop chart and #16 on the country chart. Truth be told, I can’t remember hearing it again after the year it was released.
Jimmy had several more pop hits and a long string of country hits, but his biggest accomplishment might be something quite different: Jimmy Dean Sausage. While he may have sold off the company he started, his original ads were being used again as recently as 2018.
Jimmy had his own television show from 1963-1966, and one of the regular guests on the show was Rowlf, one of the early Muppets. The dog quickly became a favorite of viewers, and his appearances on the show were instrumental in leading the Muppets to Sesame Street in the late sixties.