Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Warner Bros Insider Remembers Sherman; "Big Bad Jim" Not So Much

Not many people have heard of Sherman's "Big Bad Jim" parody, never mind know its back story. Stan Cornyn knows, but he wisely avoids sharing it.

So I'll share it.

For the early years of Warner Bros. Records, and the later years, too, Stan is the Man, and if you've got even the slimmest interest in rock music and associated mania, then you've got to get his terrific book Exploding: The Highs, Hits, Hype, Heroes, and Hustlers of the Warner Music Group.

In this week's Rhino newsletter, where Cornyn has a regular column, he remembers Sherman, and briefly mentions the "Big Bad Jim" parody of Jimmy Dean's hit, "Big Bad John," that Sherman recorded for an October 1961 party for the outgoing president of Warner Bros Records, Jim Conkling.

Conkling was a Mormon, and 50 years after Sherman recorded the parody -- an item as lost as an item could ever be considered to be -- I found it in the Conkling Papers at Brigham Young University.

However, there was a problem. Sherman's song was so obscene the library was reluctant to deal with it. But permissions were secured and a cd arrived.

Oh, boy.

I quote only the least objectionable lyrics in my book. And here is a small section,

Now Big Bad Jim was an ordinary slob
Till the day Glen Wallis come and give him a job
He was just a trumpet player when he was young
But all the ladies loved him for his triple tongue
That's Big Jim
Big Bad Jim.

I know, I know, it's G-rated stuff. But trust me on this, it gets really crude. (In the book, I give you more of an idea of where it ends up.) Still, the Conkling event was an old-fashioned stag party -- no women allowed -- and the raunchy material was a hit. Variety called it "the highlight" of the party.

It was one of the many small steps that led to Sherman's record deal with Warner Bros. in June 1962.

And it was an early hint of the sexual adventures -- orgies, group sex parties, you name it -- that Sherman pursued during his years of fame.

Yeah, that's right. The man who wrote "Hello Muddah."

People are complicated.


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