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"Big Bad John" Hits No. 1 on Billboard Charts

Nov. 6, 1961 - “Big Bad John," a recording by Jimmy Dean (pictured), hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart today. The song is about a quiet miner who “stood 6 foot 6 and weighed 245.” One day, a support timber cracks at the mine where John works. The situation looks hopeless until John “grabbed a saggin' timber…and like a giant oak tree just stood there alone,” then “gave a mighty shove,” opening a passage and allowing the 20 other miners to escape. Just as men are about to re-enter to save him, the mine collapses and John is believed dead. The mine itself is never reopened, but a marble stand is placed in front of it, with the words: "At the bottom of this mine lies one hell of a man — Big John.” Jimmy Dean, a distant cousin of the late actor James Dean, had his first hit with “Bumming Around” in 1953 and became a national television personality on CBS in 1957.


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