I got an e-mail over the weekend from Donna Dean, the widow of my dear friend, Jimmy Dean, and I think those of you who love and miss traditional country music on the airwaves will be as pleased as I was with what she had to say.
It seems as though Jimmy’s old network television shows from back in the sixties will soon be airing again on public television stations all across the country!
These shows were monumental, not only in Jimmy’s career, but in the lives and careers of so many of us connected to country music. Plus, they provided the first wide exposure for the talents of a young puppeteer named Jim Henson in his pre-Muppet days. If you’ve never seen the skits featuring Rowlf The Dog talking with Jimmy, you have missed some classic television.
Jimmy’s show offered much needed television exposure for the top country acts of the day, and Jimmy always insisted the artists bring their own bands….Ernest Tubb & His Texas Troubadours.Buck Owens & His Buckaroos, Bill Anderson & His Po’ Boys. And if I’m not mistaken, he gave the very first national TV visibility to a new girl singer named Connie Smith.
It might be hard to comprehend today, but network television was virtually off-limits to country music in those days. Folks could hear our records on the radio, but they had no idea what most of us looked like until Jimmy’s shows brought us into millions of living rooms from coast to coast. The programs were filmed in the days before color TV came along, though, so you’ll have to watch us in glorious black and white.
A man named Bob Banner was the producer of The Jimmy Dean Show, and his son, Chuck Banner, is the one who took the reins and got these shows to the brass at PBS. It’s my understanding that Roy Clark will be on camera doing some wrap-around commentary as the programs air. There could be no better person to handle that job, in that Roy and Jimmy worked together in the Washington, D.C. area early in both their careers. Of course, it’s legendary that Jimmy once fired Roy because he showed up late for an appearance.
Check your local PBS listings for The Jimmy Dean Show, then watch it and let your local station know how much you appreciate their airing it. From what I understand, the agreement is for two years.
Oh yes, and you can also….as Jimmy would say and often did…”Buy sausage!”