Country music and TV star Jimmy Dean, best known to many as the king of all things sausage, is dead at the age of 81. Jimmy Dean died Sunday evening at his home in Varina, Virginia.

Jimmy Dean

Jimmy Dean

Sunday evening, Jimmy Dean reportedly sat down to watch TV and eat dinner with his wife, Donna Meade Dean. After leaving the room for a few minutes, Dean’s wife returned to find him unconscious and unresponsive. According to CNN, Dean reportedly died of natural causes.

In the country music world, Jimmy Dean made it big in 1961 with “Big Bad John,” which reached number one on both the country and pop charts. The song also garnered a Grammy Award. Dean quickly moved to television, launching The Jimmy Dean Show on ABC in 1963. Dean also frequently appeared on NBC’s Daniel Boone as Boone’s friend Josh Clements.

In 1969, Dean founded the Jimmy Dean Meat Company, which eventually went on to make him a multi-millionaire. After selling the company in 1984 to Sara Lee, Dean served as the spokesman for the company until 2003. Despite his reign as a sausage king, Dean’s music was not forgotten. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame earlier this year.

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