So there we were talking in the office when I stated how much I hate Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen due to one bloke in my old local playing it over and over again to annoy another bloke. The conversation quickly moved onto songs that celebrate big women in all of their glory and here are eight of the finest…
8. Country Girl – Johnny Otis, 1969.
Otis, who died earlier this year aged 90, was known as the ‘Godfather of Rhythm and Blues.’ The son of Greek immigrants, he was something of a trailblazer socially saying, “as a kid I decided that if our society dictated that one had to be black or white, I would be black." This cracking blues track featuring his son Shuggie was his last chart single and is essentially a tribute to what we in the UK would know as a farmer’s daughter. Take it away Johnny O…
7. Bob Corritore & Friends – Big Fat Mama, 2010.
One of the rules I live by is to never trust a man who doesn’t like the sound of a well-blown Harmonica, and in that sense I’d probably let Corritore cup my balls with a handful of glass. I couldn’t find a video, but the song starts “big fat mama with meat shaking on the bone…’ and can be found here on Spotify.
6. Joe Tex – Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman), 1976.
Moving away from blues to Disco with this floor-filler from Joe Tex, the man who James Brown shot at in a nightclub following a spat over Tex’s wife. This was actually Tex’s comeback single after three years in retirement, and while he might not actually be celebrating the larger lady, it’s all done with a nudge and a wink that makes you think he was no stranger to some big lovin’.
5. Jimmy Castor – Bertha Butt Boogie, 1975.
Any DJ who had just dropped Joe Tex’s number could do a lot worse than follow it up with this from 1975. Criminally underrated, the recently deceased Castor was a funk master with more innovation in the top half of his Afro than many of his more celebrated peers could ever dream of having. If this did come on, and you failed to dance, you probably need to consider whether life is really for you.
4. Piano Red aka Dr Feelgood and The Interns – Dr Feelgood, 1962.
The original Dr Feelgood, Piano Red was an albino African-American born in Georgia in 1911. His 1950 album Rockin' with Red, is credited with people beginning to call rhythm and blues rock and roll, and is a bar room classic. With his hard banging piano style and cheerful holler, this is music to get you up and jumping. “Hey all of you women, now don’t come around, unless you weigh, around 400 pounds…”
3. Candye Kane – You Need a Great Big Woman
Fans of 80s American jazz mags might better recognise Candye Kane for her racy photoshoots, but since fighting her way out of that industry she has gone onto become one of the most respected female blues artists in America. She wrote this song as a riposte to the skinny girls who get on the cover of Vanity Fair and Cosmo and, after a couple of listens, it’s hard to disagree with her assertion that you need a hip-shakin’, big-assed woman.
2. AC/DC –Whole Lotta Rosie, 1977.
One man who was definitely no stranger to a bit of how’s your father with a ‘Tasmanian devil weighing 305 pounds’ was original AC/DC frontman Bon Scott. Written as a tribute to the sexual prowess of the gigantic woman he slept with at the Freeway Gardens motel in Melbourne, it features one of the best opening guitar riffs in hard rock history. Knocks the stuffing about out of Back in Black, as this live version from 1977 – featuring Angus Young at his demented best – proves. Whole lotta’ woman indeed…
1. Big Mama Thornton – They Call Me Big Mama, 1953.
Produced by none other than Johnny Otis, any song that starts with ‘they call me big mama cos I weigh 300 pounds’ is alright by us. This was actually the b-side to her seminal version of Hound Dog that stayed top of the Billboard chart for seven weeks in 1953. Like many black female artists of the day, Big Mama, or Willie Mae as she was christened, was exploited and saw very little of the profits from her version of the Leiber & Stoller song that Elvis would later record.