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Big Bad John,

or, er, Bruce, or Jim, or Sidney...

In 1961, Jimmy Dean had a huge, #1 hit with "Big Bad John." It's hard to think of a song that's generated more parodies (other than the Christmas classics). And to spoof butch John with the opposite was a natural. I've collected all the gay parodies I could on this page, and if you know of some I've missed, please let me know.

Oh, click the musical note to hear a bit of the original Listen to "Big Bad John"

and, also below, on the notes, to hear each parody

 

 

(Big John, Big John)
Ev'ry mornin' at the mine you could see him arrive
He stood six foot six and weighed two forty five
Kinda broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip
And everybody knew ya didn't give no lip to Big John.
(Big John, Big John) Big Bad John (Big John)

The REAL Story of "Big Bad Bruce"

On 11/27/09 I was very surprised and pleased to the the following email from Randy Sparks,
of the New Christy Minstrels, who found this page.

Hello from Randy Sparks,

I realize this perhaps isn't something I ought to be proud of, but I wrote "Big Bad Bruce" in November of 1961, when "Big John" by Jimmy Dean was at the top of the charts. This parody was all in good humor, and it became one of the best-requested numbers in my solo act. I quickly discovered that most Gay men had no problem with laughing at the ditty, but any Lesbians in my audiences seemed to immediately take offense, so I was careful where I sang it. I didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable.

In those days, of course, most of us were totally ignorant of what is or isn't appropriate. This was just a funny song. I began by telling the audience that, as a folk singer, I was obliged to sing work songs, and not all occupations are as masculine as mining, and that I would be singing about a hairdresser. I sang it in a private meeting with Jimmy Dean in New York, and he was offended that I had parodied his personal masterpiece, and I apologized to him. I also told him that he needn't worry about my possibly recording the song; I had no plans to do that.

The late Casey Anderson heard me performing the song in my show, and he requested permission to record it. I very patiently explained to him what Special Material was all about, and I also mentioned that I didn't want my song recorded at all, as I knew there would be a problem with obtaining permission from Acuff-Rose, the publishers of Big John. This happened prior to the court case brought on by Two-Live Crew; they won for all of us the right to parody ANY published song. My song was copyright-protected, but I intentionally did not publish it, this to protect its status as Special Material. Casey, being the sneak that he was, simply changed the name and dabbled with the story and recorded the song.

I was unaware of Steve Greenberg's recording until I stumbled onto your website, but the timeline parallels the release of a recording of MY SONG by four college-age boys in Florida. When I caught wind of their record, I immediately hired the best copyright attorney in New York (by phone...I was in LA), and he said he would take care of the problem. He also wanted $10,000. as a retainer. He called me back a couple of hours later to tell me that we were dead in the water.

Acuff-Rose had just granted a license for the parody to the four THIEVES from Florida, and the lawyer had learned that the song had only earned about $5000. at that point, and the Nashville publishers intended to pull it off the market. I was angry, of course, but I got over it. I have been stolen from all my adult life, and thankfully, I'm a wee bit smarter now...not much, but just enough. By the way, it is flattering to have produced something, anything, that the uncreative people feel the need to steal.

The song BBB didn't fit with the repertoire of my group that became famous right after that, in 1962. I was off and running with The New Christy Minstrels, and I had plenty of other battles to win. Maybe there are bragging rights for having been a pioneer in the field covered by your program. I don't know. It's interesting that you point to "Big Bad Bruce" as having been the first such song. I wasn't trying to break new ground. I simply wanted to entertain my audiences, and most folks thought it was funny.

We're still at it, or should I say, at it again. I have restored the group with mostly the very same performers who were with me in the '60s, and we're doing capacity business all over the country. Please visit our website: thenewchristyminstrels.com

I wrote him back asking for permission to share this information and if he remembered
the names of that first act that did his song, and he graciously replied:

I have no problem with your including my message (or parts thereof) on your website. I don't remember the names of the thieves who blatantly took credit for having created my piece of Special Material. The names are in my files, but I'm not there right now, and it's a lot busier our here in the fast lane than I ever expected it to be at my age.
Cheers! RS

recent pic Randy Sparks   New Christy Minstrels

"Big Bad John" Answer Records, at Least the Gay-Related Ones

 

Casey Anderson

"Sweet Sidney" Listen to "Sweet Sidney"

from
"The Bag I'm In"

Atco LP 33-149, 1962

Casey Anderson

Country Gentlemen

 

The Country Gentlemen

"Big Bruce" Listen to "Big Bruce"

Rebel 263, 45 rpm, 1966

Country Gentlemen

 

Faux Pas

"Big John" Listen to "Big John"

on "Live At Nino's"

Pizza LP 1001, 1967

Faux Pas

 

Steve Greenberg

"Big Bruce" Listen to "Big Bruce" by Steve Greenberg

Trip 3000, 45rpm, 1969

The only one to "chart," making the
Billboard Chart at #97 in July of 1969

"Have One On""Eskimos, Mean Old Queens and Little Bitty Steers" Ben Colder

"Big Sweet John" Listen to Ben Colder

on "Have One On Ben Colder"

MGM LP 4629, 1969

and "Eskimos, Mean Old Queens, and Little Bitty Steers" (2002)

Elmer Fudpucker at the Nudist Colony

 

Elmer Fudpucker
(aka Hollis Champion)

"Big Bad Bruce" Listen to "Big Bad Bruce" by Elmer Fudpucker

on "Elmer Fudpucker at the Nudist Colony"

Vulgar LP 69, mid 60's

Elmer  Fudpucker, in real life Hollis Champion

 

Chuck Mason

"Big Bad Bruce" Listen to "Big Bad Bruce" by Chuck Mason

on "A One Man Show"

Paka Records LP 16032, 60's

Chuck Mason
Hudson & Pickett

 

 

Hudson & Pickett

"Big Bad John" Listen to "Big Bad John" by Hudson & Pickett

on "The Hollyweird Squares"

Dore LP 334, 1972

 

 

Bill Stith

"Big Bruce" Listen to Bill Stith's unenergetic version

Jamie 1417, 1973

Bill Stith's 45
Skyhooks
Skyhooks

part of "Bruce Suite - (a) Big Bad Bruce (b) Straight In A Gay Gay World (c) I'm Normal" Listen to the Aussie Skyhooks

on "Live / Be In It"

Mushroom LP 32321, 1978
(Australian group)

 

Malone & Nootcheez

"Big Gay Jim" Listen to "Big Gay Jim" by Malone & Nootcheez

on "Two Heads"

Lone Cheez CD 101, 1993

Malone & Nootcheez CD
Bird & Macdonald

 

Bird & MacDonald

"Big Bruce" Listen to "Big Bruce" by Bird & MacDonald

on "Best of Bird & MacDonald, Vol. 1"

Smut Records CD 0001, 1998
(contains several other gay-related tracks)

that's 13 gay parody versions and counting...if you know of other gay ones Please email me and let me know

and, one of my visitors did let me know, contributing this parody...but I've placed it at the bottom because, gee, it's not homophobic at all and has no gay references. It's just a tribute song to a reknown New Zealand athelete, Don Clarke.

Doug Catley with the Fernleafs
"Big Bad Don"
HMV 209, NZ, 1965
read all about it, including the lyrics and hear a bit of it at

http://folksong.org.nz/big_don/

"Big Bad Don"

no, not a gay parody, but for completeness I'm listing...

Phil McLean

"Small Sad Sam"

Versatile 107, 1961