Jimmy Dean, member of the Country Music Hall of Fame turned sausage proprietor, died at his home in Varina, Va., last night, police said. He was 81.
Dean was with his wife Donna at the time of his death, which appears to be from natural causes, according to the Henrico County Police department.
Musically, Dean is best known for his song "Big Bad John," which made it to No. 1 on both the country and pop charts in 1961 and won him a Grammy.
He also had numerous other hits. Starting in 1963, he hosted a successful variety show on ABC called The Jimmy Dean Show, which ran three years.
In the late 1960s Dean also appeared regularly on the NBC series Daniel Boone. He played Boone's pal Josh Clements. But the best was still to come.
R.I.P. Jimmy Dean (1928-2010).
At that time, Dean started the Jimmy Dean Meat Company, which he sold to Sara Lee Foods in 1984, but remained its chairman and TV spokesman.
Those are some good sausages.
Dean was born Seth Ward in Olton, Tx., on August 10, 1928. His mom taught him piano at age 10. He also learned guitar, harmonica, and accordion.
After a 1948 discharge from the Air Force he and a band, Texas Wildcats, played in the D.C. area. This year, he made the Country Music Hall of Fame.
"We played every dive in Washington at one time or another," Dean said in his biography on the Hall of Fame website. "And dives is what they were."