Big Bad John singer Jimmy Dean dies at 81

Image caption, Dean was born in Texas in 1928

Jimmy Dean, the country singer who had a big hit with Big Bad John, has died at the age of 81.

His wife, Donna Meade Dean, said her husband passed away at their home in Virginia in the US.

"He was amazing. He had a lot of talents," she said of the singer, who starred in The Jimmy Dean Show in the 1950s.

In 1969, Dean went into the sausage business, starting the successful Jimmy Dean Meat Company.

Muppet Show

The Texan-born singer sold the company in 1984 to Sara Lee Foods but continued to be its chairman and TV spokesperson.

Big Bad John, a song about a coal mining hero, was a crossover hit in 1961, making it to number one in the country and pop charts in the US.

The single won Dean a Grammy award.

His other singles included Dear Ivan, Little Black Book and P.T. 109.

Dean also turned his hand to acting - his best-known role was as reclusive Las Vegas billionaire Willard Whyte in the 1971 James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever.

The Jimmy Dean show helped introduce puppeteer Jim Henson to the US public. His regular appearances on the show made Rowlf, the piano-playing dog, the first Muppet to become a household name.

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