Back before he was the King of Sausage, Jimmy Ray Dean, a native of Plainview, Texas, was a great country singer and TV personality. He passed away yesterday at the age of 81.
His greatest hit was 1961’s “Big Bad John”, a story about a miner who “stood six foot six and weighed two forty-five” (a song Dean wrote, which he said was inspired by a fellow actor in a summer stock company) who saves his fellow miners when a shaft collapses, but dies himself before he can be rescued.
Dearly though I love “Big Bad John” and Dean’s recording of Stuart Hamblen’s “It Is No Secret”, I also love this breezy, cheerfully sexist little song. It was the B-side of “Big Bad John”.
Dean himself was a tall rangy guy who never seemed to take himself too seriously. When his music career trickled off, he began his sausage business–and I must say, I think it’s damned good product–but today, I remember the singer and entertainer. Rest in peace, Jimmy.