Jimmy Dean was a country boy

Jimmy Dean, who died Sunday in Virginia at the age of 81, may be best remembered these days as the laid-back huckster of his eponymous sausage brand. But he began his career as a country singer, and a hit-making one at that — “Big Bad John” (1961) was a No. 1 country and pop single, while his JFK homage “P.T. 109” reached the top 10 on both charts. In the mid-’60s, he hosted a network TV show that was among the first to showcase major country talent.

In the vintage clip above, he duets with Buck Owens — who later followed in Dean’s footsteps and fronted the country-corn series “Hee Haw” — on Owens’ No. 2 1961 hit “Foolin’ Around.” The duo is backed here by Owens’ great band the Buckaroos; Dean nudges aside Buck’s usual duet partner and lead guitarist Don Rich at the beginning of the number, and the superlative steel guitar work is by Tom Brumley.

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