1962 Phil McLean – Small Sad Sam

1962 Phil McLean – Small Sad Sam 

A lot of successful songs are picked up and mostly copied by other artists who create answer songs or parodies. Jimmy Dean had a huge hit record with the song Big Bad John in 1961, and the first parody I’m aware of came from Jimmy himself. On Jimmy’s television show, he and the muppet Rowlf (a frequent guest) sang the song Big Bad Dog.

There was another hit in 1962 that was a clear parody. Phil McLean served as a Navy fighter pilot during World War II and landed a job as a disk jockey at WERE-AM/1300 in Cleveland in 1951. He hosted two television shows beginning in the fifties. The first featured teenaged dancers (similar to the format of American Bandstand) and the second was a late night show that featured movies.

In 1961, he provided the spoken vocals for the song Small Sad Sam. Versatile Records in New York issued the single, which peaked at #21 on the Hot 100 early the next year.

Perhaps the strangest parody of Big Bad John was a song Steve Greenburg released in 1969. His single Big Bruce may have reached #97 on the Hot 100, but it’s not likely to get much airplay anymore!

There were actually two different versions of this song with slightly different lyrics. The second version shuffled a few lines, relocated Bruce from New Orleans to Abilene, and replaced “Cajun Queens” with “The Lone Star Queens”.


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