Monday, June 14, 2010

Sausageobit: Jimmy Dean

In the UK, Jimmy Dean is probably an unfamiliar name, but you'd recognise his song: Big Bad John, a mainstay of Radio 2 during the 1970s.

In the US, though, Dean - who died at the weekend - was better known for his second career, as provider of breakfast foods to the masses. The meats were made possible by a successful restaurant chain; the chain traded on his ABC variety show. And that was payback for his one big hit.

That, originally, had been a b-side; the label had originally hoped for I Won't Go Huntin' with You Jake to be Dean's big breakthrough. The decision to flip the disc, though, called for a quick re-record, as the line "lies a hell of a man" was a bit too profane for US radio at the time.

Dean appeared in a movie based on the song, and recorded a pair of diminishing-returns sequels to the original track, but by 1969 he was more interested in selling slabs of pork and pancakes on sticks. He sold up to Sara Lee in 1984.

Jimmy Dean was 81.