Jimmy Dean Joins Big Bad John (part two)

In 1962 there was a sequel, “The Cajun Queen”, describing the arrival of Queenie, Big John’s woman who rescues him from the mine and marries him.  Ultimately, they end up having “one hundred and ten grandchildren”.  This song’s stories are more exaggerated than “Big Bad John”.  The flip-side to “Steel Men” in June 1962 concludes the tale with the birth of “Little Bitty Big John”.  In 1964, Dottie West recorded a sequel called “My Big John”, telling the Cajun Queen’s side of the story as she searched for John, and finally finding out that he had died.  Jimmy Dean gave one last refrain of Big John in his number eight single in 1962,  “P.T. 109”.

The song was based on the sinking of John F. Kennedy’s torpedo boat on August 2, 1943.  He finishes up the ballad with the line, “It’s hard to get the best of a man named John! (Big John, Big John…)”  In addition to the sequels, “Big Bad John” inspired countless parodies and covers.

After his show went off the air, Dean continued his singing career and worked as an actor on television (Daniel Boone, Fantasy Island) and in movies (Diamonds Are Forever).  He also appeared in the commercials for the Jimmy Dean Sausage Company which he owned with his brother, Don.  Gradually, his appearance was phased out as the company morphed into Sara Lee.  He lived out his semi-retirement years outside of Richmond, Virginia with Donna, his second wife.  They had just recovered and returned from a fire that destroyed most of their house back in April 2009.  They managed to salvage a few precious belongings, including his awards and a puppet made for him by Jim Henson.  Jimmy Dean died of natural causes at home on June 13, 2010.  He leaves behind three children (Garry, Connie and Robert from his first wife Mary Sue) and two grandchildren.

To those who loved him, he was a big, big man.

Be your best,

Dean