John the Fisherman

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"John the Fisherman"
Single by Primus
from the album Frizzle Fry

Live: December 30, 1989

Single: May 17, 1990
Genre Funk metal, progressive rock

Live: 3:53

Single: 3:37
Label Caroline Records (1990)
Prawn Song Records (2002)
Writer(s) Claypool/Huth
Producer(s) Primus and "Exxon" Matt Winegar
Primus singles chronology
"John the Fisherman"
"Too Many Puppies"

"John the Fisherman" is the first single by the alternative metal band Primus, released first live in 1989 on Suck on This, then re-released a year later, this time studio recorded, on Frizzle Fry.

Although the band did release the song as a single and filmed a video for it (featuring the band members performing the song on a boat, with a cameo appearance by Kirk Hammett of Metallica, who has been a close friend of Claypool since they attended the same school), the single had very limited success due to its being released on an indie label, and the band did not receive mainstream attention until their next single, "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver", from their 1991 major label debut Sailing the Seas of Cheese. Because of this, many overlook "John the Fisherman" and claim "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver" was Primus' first single. When Frizzle Fry was re-released in 2002, many fans who caught on during the major label days of the band bought the album, and it became a fan favorite. There was a new interest in this song, and it received some radio and MTV airplay.

The song tells the story of a young boy, the eponymous John, who in his youth dreamed of becoming a fisherman when he grew up. His constant day dreaming causes him to struggle at school and he is victim of ridicule by the other students and his own mother, but he still dreams of one day becoming a fisherman. Years later, an adult John is the captain of his own fishing boat going out on it's routine fishing voyage. However, only four hours into the trip, the ship is caught in a violent storm, and waves crash against the ship and flood the starboard bow, sinking the ship. The last line of the song foretell John's fate; "I'll live and die a fisherman".

"John The Fisherman" is the first part of a four-part story called the "Fisherman's Chronicles", which continued on Primus' later albums. Its immediate sequel was "Fish On (Fisherman Chronicles, Chapter II)" on 1991's Sailing the Seas of Cheese, followed by "The Ol' Diamondback Sturgeon (Fisherman's Chronicles, Pt. 3)" on 1993's Pork Soda and most recently "Last Salmon Man (Fisherman's Chronicles, Part IV)" on 2011's Green Naugahyde.

The live version of John The Fisherman that appears on Suck on This contains an intro consisting of the Rush song YYZ.



  1. ^ "Guitar Hero II Final Tracklist Revealed". IGN. 2006-10-09. Retrieved 2009-07-21.