Link to QMH Home Page

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:

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

and, February 2018 I received additional information from Tom Pickles, who wrote extensive liner notes for many NCM album reissue releases:

I recently discovered your website and enjoyed Randy Sparks' email to you about his version of "Big Bad Bruce." In spite of his claim, he did indeed record the song with the New Christy Minstrels in late summer of 1962. The song was slated to be part of their second album, "In Person." Perhaps Randy -- or Columbia Records -- opted not to include it because of Jimmy Dean's reactions to the song. (Dean also recorded for Columbia.) The minstrels were also featured as regular performers on the squeaky clean Andy Williams Show in the '62-'63 season, so maybe it was deemed inappropriate material for that image as well.

In any case, Columbia still has the master. Back in 2002, I produced the CD reissue of the "In Person" album (paired with the group's debut album, "Presenting the New Christy Minstrels.") I looked for "Big Bad Bruce" at the time, but Sony (Columbia) couldn't find the master at the time, but they have it now. Regardless, I doubt the reissue label would have approved including the song for the obvious reasons. I've never heard it, unfortunately, but Sparks is quite the showman so I'm sure it's pretty long as you can keep an open mind and/or grit your teeth a bit, as needed.

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


Casey Anderson

"Sweet Sidney" Listen to "Sweet Sidney"

"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

The crediting variations on different pressing is interesting

below, only pic I've seen of Greenberg

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

On the promo version the lyrics were closer to the original, and a lawsuit prompted the change, hear that version where he's from New Orleans, as opposed to the altered version claiming Abilene

below, statement by Greenberg on the song

"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

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)


In 1982 the band Free Beer did their own take on "Big Bad John," with the track "Mack Tuck," from the album "Clueless." In it our hero, Mel Schwartz, stand up to bully Mack Tuck.

Hear the song



Thanks to Brian L, from SF, for providing this track

In 1995 the Jenny Jones Show featured as a guest Jonathan Schmitz, who had a secret admirer, Scott Amadure, both from the SE Michigan area. This was revealed live on the show, and Jonathan was so humiliated by the airing of the episode that he bought a shotgun, went to Scott's home, and shot him dead. He was later arrested and convicted of murder.

WCSX-FM, a Detroit radio station, created a parody called "Big Straight John, " and gave it repeated airplay and it appeared on their CD of all the parodies of that year, called Parodies for Charity. The CD was in instant hit. Hear the song.

Thanks to Mike Nielsen for providing the info and track

that's 15 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

"Big Bad Don"

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

Phil McLean

"Small Sad Sam"

Versatile 107, 1961

Hear It

Also, for good coverage of non-gay Big Bad John parodies see this blog