RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Jimmy Dean, a country music legend for his smash hit about a workingman hero, "Big Bad John," and an entrepreneur known for his sausage brand, has died. He was 81.
His wife, Donna Meade Dean, says her husband died at 7:54 p.m. Sunday at their Henrico County, Va., home, south of Richmond.
She tells The Associated Press that he had some health problems but was still functioning well, so his death came as a shock.
Born in 1928, Dean was raised in poverty in Plainview, Texas, and dropped out of high school after the ninth grade. But he went on to a successful entertainment career in the '50s and '60s.
In 1969, Dean went into the sausage business, starting the Jimmy Dean Meat Co. He sold the company to Sara Lee Corp. in 1984.