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November 6

A Joke to a Big Hit, “Big Bad John” by Jimmy Dean

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A Joke to a Big Hit, “Big Bad John” by Jimmy Dean 1

Jimmy Dean had a popular Television Show in the 60’s. The show featured many country performers and it helped broaden the appeal of country music. Dean was considered one of the instruments in making country music more popular. His TV show featured ‘Rowlf’ the Dog, one of Jim Henson’s first muppets. Henson and Frank Oz did ‘Rowlf’ who became popular on dog food commercials. However, Dean’s interaction and singing with Rowlf was brilliant and a highlight of each of his TV shows. Jim Henson later offered Dean 40% of the muppets for helping make him famous, but Dean turned Henson down and told him, “never sell your talent”. Henson was forever grateful to Dean. Dean also helped launch the career of Roy Clark and Patsy Cline.

Jimmy Dean wrote this about a fellow actor John Mentoe in the movie “Destry Rides Again”, who was 6′ 5″ tall. According to Dean’s roommate during that time, the song was intended to be a joke.

Floyd Cramer who sang the song “Last Date” was hired to play the piano on the recording. However, he wound up hitting a chunk of steel with a hammer instead, and it was Floyd’s idea to make the switch.

In America, this song was a big hit with tremendous crossover appeal. Not only did it top the Hot 100 for five weeks, it was also No. 1 on the Country chart for two weeks, and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart for 10 weeks. The next song to reach the top spot on all three charts was “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell in 1975.

Dean wrote the song on a flight from New York to Nashville when he realized that he needed another song for his recording session.

Did you like the song? Let us know in the comments section below and don’t forget to share this to other country fans.


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