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Monday, June 05, 2006

Just A-Fannin' the Flames: Big Bruce

In 1961, Jimmy Dean (who would later found a successful sausage-making enterprise) had a Grammy-winning hit with "Big Bad John," a story song about a mysterious coal miner who heroically gives up his life saving his fellow miners during a cave-in. The song spawned a fair amount of parodies over the years, but perhaps none as popular as "Big Bruce," comedian Steve Greenberg's 1969 hit about a flouncy hairdresser who saves his fellow salon workers from certain disaster because of a "fire in the Number 5 dryer." Ignoring the song's obvious homophobia--RetroGuy wonders if this was responsible for sparking the Stonewall Rebellion that same year--it's interesting to note that "Big Bruce" appears to have been penned by none other than Mack Vickery (pictured), the late songwriter and Rockabilly Hall of Fame Member who wrote tunes for Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and countless others. Further note of interest: BMI now lists the sole writer of the song as Jimmy Dean, even though no less than 4 people are credited on the single's label and the song is somewhat different than Dean's original. Hmmm. You can hear 12 (count 'em...12!) other gay-oriented parodies of "Big Bad John" at Queer Music Heritage.


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