Born in 1946, Jimmy Dean grew up playing music in the fertile music scene of Dothan, Alabama. In 1964, Jimmy was approached by another Dothan native, Buddy Buie, the famous songwriter/producer and manager of Roy Orbison’s band, The Candymen (formerly The Webs), to join a second group known as The James Gang. This group consisted of Wilbur Walton, Jr. (Lead Vocals), Jimmy Dean (Bass Player), Fred Guarino (Drums), James “Bubba” Lathem (Organ), and John Mulkey (Lead Guitar).
In that winter, the group released a couple of songs on United Artists’ Ascot
label which became instant hits in Birmingham and around the south. In a follow up session at Fred Foster Studio in Nashville, the group recorded “Georgia Pines,” a joint composition by Buddy Buie and John Rainey Adkins. This song also enjoyed widespread popularity not only in regional markets but also in several midwestern and western markets. Later, the Bill Lowery Agency in Atlanta, which booked other southern acts such as Joe Royal, Joe South, and The Candymen, signed The James Gang. The group began recording at MasterSound Studio and released new songs such as “The Right String Baby but The Wrong Yo-Yo” which became another regional hit.
The James Gang had an active touring schedule up until the Fall of 1967, when bookings decreased and the original group broke up. In 1969, Wilbur Walton, Jr. convinced original band members, Jimmy Dean and Fred Guarino to rejoin him on the road with Marvin Taylor, formerly of the K-otics. This reconfiguration of The James Gang toured as a four-piece until 1970 when Jimmy decided to refocus his creative talent towards freelancing as a commercial artist.
However, music and touring beckoned again when John Rainey Adkins, founding member of The Webs (later The Candymen), asked him to join a band called Beaverteeth in 1972. A year later, Rodney Justo, former lead singer of The Candymen and the first lead singer of the Atlanta Rhythm Section, called Jimmy to say that the famous singer, B.J. Thomas (i.e., with hits like “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” and “Hooked on a Feeling”), needed Beaverteeth as his back-up band. At that point, Beaverteeth consisted of: Jimmy Dean (Bass), John Rainey Adkins (Vocals/Rhythm Guitar), David Adkins (Vocals/Lead Guitar/Keyboard), Charlie Silva (Vocals/Drums), and Rodney Justo (Lead Vocals/Rhythm Guitar). From 1972-76, Beaverteeth toured with B.J. Thomas and were joined on the road by Robert Dean, Jimmy’s brother, who served as a road manager and Jimmy’s long-time friend, Bruce Adams, who helped as the occasional roadie. Both men remember that although Jimmy was shy, he was an open, positive person who enjoyed sharing a laugh with his bandmates. Most of all, they noted that Jimmy loved performing. In 1975, Beaverteeth played on NBC’s late night musical variety show, Midnight Special, narrated by the famous DJ, Wolfman Jack. They performed with B.J. Thomas on his No. 1 Billboard hit “Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong” song. The show was instantly viewed by millions and the video of the performance continues to attract widespread viewership on social media.
Upon leaving the music touring life in 1976, Jimmy went back to his commercial art business, earning a degree from Wallace Community College in graphic design. In the eighties, he drew acclaim for his political cartoons in The Dothan Eagle and eventually started his own advertising company. Towards the end of his life, he was passionate about oil painting.