May 8

Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John:” From a Joke to Country Hit

Jimmy Dean is a Mr. Do-It-all man. He is known for being a country music artist, television host, actor, and businessman. He also crossed over to the Rock and Roll genre just like our Elvis Presley.

This time, we will be talking about his big hit “Big Bad John” and the story behind it.

jimmy dean
via Screen frame from Youtube

Jimmy Dean’s Friend John Mentor

As mentioned in the title, the song was first intended to be a joke to Jimmy Dean’s fellow actor, John Mentor. They both acted in the show “Destry Rides Again” back in 1939, starring Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart.

John Mentor, the subject of the song, was 6′ 5″ tall. According to the singer’s roommate, the singer just wanted to make fun of his big friend as we can see in the lyrics.

Through the dust and the smoke of this man-made hell
Walked a giant of a man that the miners knew well

You can already tell that the singer means well. There was no malice to the song, and he just wants to tell a ridiculous story of a big man.

jimmy dean
Jimmy Dean | Photo credit: gettyimages/ CBS Photo Archives

Jimmy Dean’s Height of Success

This song is one, if not, the biggest hit from Jimmy Dean. It even crossed over to the rock and roll genre since it was the 100th number 1 song of the Rock and Roll era. In addition, this song topped the country chart for two weeks and reached number one on the Adult Contemporary chart for 10 weeks. It has also competed with songs from other genres, staying on top of the Hot 100 for five weeks.

But music is not the only place for Jimmy as mentioned above. He starred in his 1963 television series, The Jimmy Dean Show. He was also a supporting cast on the James Bond movie Diamonds are Forever.

With success in both acting and singing, you would really think that he wouldn’t try other things, but he ventured into business. He owned a sausage line products. His company did well because of the humorous TV commercials.

Listen to the song here:


Jimmy Dean

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