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James Dean? JIMMY Dean!
June 15, 2010 4:47 PM   Subscribe

Jimmy Dean (Aug. 28, 1928 - June 13, 2010) is best known to Mefites for his brand of sausage, although he sold the company in the '80s, and was dropped as its spokesman in 2003; its current owner is Sara Lee*. But his musical legacy is sealed by his 'country rap*' classic "Big Bad John" (performed live in 2008), often imitated, but never parodied better than with "Big Bruce"** (info). But to me, he was the guy with the variety show where he spent several minutes every week bantering with the muppet Rowlf****. Here's Jimmy in Esquire Magazine's "What I've Learned". His final resting place is music-themed, NOT sausage themed. "Here lies one hell of a man."

* Sara Lee's original namesake is LONG gone but recently had a female CEO who is currently on medical leave
** what else would YOU call that non-singing musical style?
*** not the same Steve Greenberg who was behind Lipps, Inc. and "Funkytown", but wouldn't it be cool if he was?
**** performed by Jim Henson, with Frank Oz giving a hand (literally)
posted by oneswellfoop (48 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
()
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:50 PM on June 15, 2010


Aw man. I alwyas liked that guy, and his sausage (go ahead laugh, you sick fuckers) and 'Big Bad John' was a great radio song. RIP.
posted by jonmc at 4:52 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


** what else would YOU call that non-singing musical style?

I believe it's called a recitation.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:55 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


But Crabby, any category of song that includes "Big Bad John", "A Boy Named Sue" and "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" deserves a cooler name than "recitation"!
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:00 PM on June 15, 2010


Talking Country?
posted by jonmc at 5:02 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Once when I was producing a radio show, for Mother's Day a cut a few clips of Dean's 1976 tribute to Mom, I.O.U. The phone lines lit up, with people wanting to know what the song was and where they could get it.

.
posted by evilcolonel at 5:05 PM on June 15, 2010


Here is Senator John Cornyn's version of "Big John." Not even close to Jimmy's version, but well worth watching for entertainment value.
posted by MidAtlantic at 5:07 PM on June 15, 2010


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posted by DaddyNewt at 5:07 PM on June 15, 2010


You can strive for perfection... and sometimes that makes you a miserable son of a bitch.

Quote of the Fucking Day.
posted by jonmc at 5:07 PM on June 15, 2010


I hadn't heard "Big Bad John" for years--I bet not since high school, which was probably the last time I was around when my dad went on one of his old timey country music kicks and brought home a bunch of great old stuff from the library (Left Frizzell and a bunch of other guys whose names I can't remember because I'm an uncultured buffoon.)

What a great gravelly voice this guy had.
posted by Neofelis at 5:10 PM on June 15, 2010


Just got to drop a link to the sequel to "Big Bad John", "The Cajun Queen".

(link autoplays music)
posted by darkstar at 5:11 PM on June 15, 2010


"You know who my idol was in high school? James Dean. Boy, could that guy make sausages." —Emo Phillips
posted by Sys Rq at 5:16 PM on June 15, 2010


Don't forget his role as the reclusive Willard Whyte in Diamonds Are Forever.

.
posted by jonp72 at 5:16 PM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let's not forget his unforgettable performance as eccentric millionaire Willard White in Diamonds are Forever.

.
posted by wabbittwax at 5:19 PM on June 15, 2010


Country Rap, perhaps? Portmanteau that any way you like.
posted by heyho at 5:19 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Growing up, my family had a 45 of "Big Bad John." The B-Side was a song called "I Won't Go Huntin' With You Jake (But I'll Go Chasin' Wimmin')" It took me years to listen to it, because I was sure it could never live up to the title. It was surprisingly good.*

*I have terrible, terrible taste in music.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:19 PM on June 15, 2010


Jinxed! If only I hadn't taken so long to find my clip!!
posted by wabbittwax at 5:19 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought his musical legacy was sealed with...

Rock on. (Is that what you were trying to reference in the title?)
posted by symbioid at 5:29 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


*I have terrible, terrible taste in music.

No, sir, you do not.
posted by jonmc at 5:35 PM on June 15, 2010


yes, symbioid... *sigh*
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:36 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


also: never, ever, apologize for liking something. On the list of things to be sorry for, it's so far down the list as to be.....not on it.
posted by jonmc at 5:36 PM on June 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's like a big friendly lumberjack between your knees.

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posted by Earthtopus at 5:41 PM on June 15, 2010


I always thought that he, not Ken Curtis, played Charlie McCorry in The Searchers, as in: I'll thank you to unhand my Fi-ancee... just before the knock down drag out punch up between he and Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter) had.

Rowlf was the first muppet to appear on television.
posted by y2karl at 5:42 PM on June 15, 2010


HTML fail fix.
posted by Earthtopus at 5:44 PM on June 15, 2010


never parodied better than with "Big Bruce"
I'm partial to Honeydipper Dan.
posted by Humanzee at 5:48 PM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Rowlf was the first muppet to appear on television.

This is not true. "Sam and Friends" predates Rowlf on "The Jimmy Dean Show" by several years.
posted by briank at 5:48 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like to think he was met at the Pearly Gates by Bob Evans and Oscar Mayer. Because that would be one fantastic sausagefest.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:19 PM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


He lived here in Richmond. He used to frequent a restaurant I used to work at and he was a crotchety, rude old man. Can't say I'll miss him but without him, this gem of an audio clip wouldn't exist.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:39 PM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


As a guy with a marketing background, I was always impressed with his tag line for his sausage: "I'd rather have to explain the price than apologize for the quality."
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:41 PM on June 15, 2010


I've seen a jillion miracles. They're all around. Every green leaf is a miracle. Not long ago, I noticed a leaf falling. It floated down on the porch, and it was brown and kind of wrinkled. I thought, Boy, that's a shame. It was once beautifully green and now it's all over and gone. Then I got to thinking. It beautified the world, then it fell off and will go back into the earth and fertilize and grow many more green leaves. And I thought, I hope I can contribute like that.

Good for you, sir.
posted by docpops at 6:46 PM on June 15, 2010


When I heard about his death this weekend I toyed with the Idea of making an FPP, but didn't have time to make a good one; thanks, oneswellfoop for doing a better job than I would have.
posted by TedW at 6:57 PM on June 15, 2010


I like to think he was met at the Pearly Gates by Bob Evans and Oscar Mayer. Because that would be one fantastic sausagefest.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:19 PM on June 15 [+]


I would tend to agree with your assertion but you'd have to include links.
posted by hal9k at 7:01 PM on June 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


Little part of my childhood, he was. So long, Jimmy.

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posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:16 PM on June 15, 2010


Was he friends with Paul Newman and George Foreman?
posted by miyabo at 7:37 PM on June 15, 2010


** what else would YOU call that non-singing musical style?

I believe it's called a recitation.

It's called "sprechstimme", and he wasn't the first to do it, not by a long shot.
posted by motown missile at 7:53 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


...but never parodied better than with "Big Bruce"...

I'm leaning more towards Frank Gallop's "Irving"
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:26 PM on June 15, 2010


hal9k: "I like to think he was met at the Pearly Gates by Bob Evans and Oscar Mayer. Because that would be one fantastic sausagefest.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:19 PM on June 15 [+]


I would tend to agree with your assertion but you'd have to include links.
"

No. No ... You didn't really just write this, did you? Oh, god...



They played Jimmy Dean on KOOP radio this morning as I bopped around town, played his first hit, "Bummin' Around" (1953) w/Roy Clark on guitar, sortof like "King of The Road" by Roger Miller, maybe a bit warmer than Millers song, to my ear in any case.

A good life.

.
posted by dancestoblue at 8:30 PM on June 15, 2010


Very nice post. Thank you oneswellfoop! I did not realize he sang "Big Bad John" and I will now have that song stuck in my head for days. And will be craving sausages, sausages....and feel just a bit like Homer Simpson.
posted by fyrebelley at 8:42 PM on June 15, 2010


Sara Lee turned his company into a gimmicky joke. RIP, Jimmy.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:42 PM on June 15, 2010


Jees, between this thread and the AskMe about the chocolate bars, I'm now craving sausage patties dipped in Ghirardelli. Preferably dispensed every 55 seconds from a bedside medical appliance.
posted by darkstar at 8:52 PM on June 15, 2010


I believe Rowlf was the first Muppet to appear regularly on television as a named character. Kermit had been on TV before him, but not regularly. So Rowlf was very much an important breakthrough character for Henson and Company.

And I see a likely relationship between "Sara Lee turned his company into a gimmicky joke" and "he was a crotchety, rude old man". He always appeared to take pride in his product, so he certainly was unhappy to see his name attached to "Sausage & Pancakes on a Stick". (Why can't I use the words 'on a stick' without thinking of Jeff Dunham?)

And while "The Ballad of Irving" is a truly classic satire of the whole folk legend song genre (and specifically of the Wild West), to me, "Big Bruce" was much more a direct parody of "Big Bad John". Just sayin'...
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:51 PM on June 15, 2010


Big Bad Gone.
posted by sourwookie at 10:07 PM on June 15, 2010


Mmm...sausage and pancakes on a stick...dipped in chocolate!
posted by darkstar at 10:39 PM on June 15, 2010


I share my birthday with the Sausage King and the secretary from Beverly Hillbillies. Yeah Me.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:44 AM on June 16, 2010


You share a birthday with Abe Froman?!
posted by entropicamericana at 9:09 AM on June 16, 2010


Another term for that kind of vocal style is 'talking blues'.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:50 PM on June 16, 2010


Abe Fromen? Who is Abe Froman? I'm talking about Jane Hathaway. What Beverly Hillbillies have you been watching?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:41 PM on June 16, 2010


I believe Rowlf was the first Muppet to appear regularly on television as a named character... So Rowlf was very much an important breakthrough character for Henson and Company.

Well, that was what I meant to say, or should have said, as I do seem to recall Kermit and Henson being on Ed Sullivan, so my apologies for being inexact. And he did seem to be one of the more developed characters on the Muppet Show, which is something which this recently learned factoid would seem to explain.
posted by y2karl at 10:37 PM on June 16, 2010


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