Country Star Jimmy Dean Dies at 81

Popular crooner turned sausage king
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2010 1:47 AM CDT
Country singer and sausage icon Jimmy Dean talks to a reporter at his home in Varina, Va., last year.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
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(Newser) – Jimmy Dean, a country musician and entrepreneur who made it into the Country Music Hall of Fame, died yesterday at the age of 81. Dean found music-industry success in 1961 with his hit "Big Bad John," which sold millions and earned him a Grammy in 1962. Dean would write a few more hits, including "The First Thing Ev'ry Morning" and "IOU" that would see chart success in the '60s and '70s, the Tennessean notes.

He was also an occasional host of the Tonight Show and hosted his own "Jimmy Dean Show" on ABC. Dean had a taste for more than music and TV, though. In 1969 he founded the sausage company that bore his name until it was acquired by Consolidated Foods. "I was one of the lucky people who really got to know him," said fellow Country Music Hall of Famer Bill Anderson. "Beneath that bravado, there was a wonderful human being. I've never had a better friend."

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