Big Mouth Billy Bass

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For the bassist, see Billy Bass Nelson.
Big Mouth Billy Bass

Big Mouth Billy Bass is an animatronic singing prop, representing a largemouth bass, invented around the end of 1998 and popular in the early 2000s. The fish is made of latex rubber with a plastic mechanical skeleton inside of it; at first glance it appears to be a mounted game fish. Conceived by Gemmy Industries product development vice president Joe Pellettieri following a visit to a Bass Pro Shop,[1] it turns its head towards a person, facing them, and then wiggles its tail on its trophy plaque and sings kitschy cover songs, such as "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin, and "Take Me To The River" by Al Green, who said he received more royalties from it than from any other recording of the song. The singing mechanism was originally activated by a motion sensor and was originally intended to startle a passerby. Eventually a button was added to activate it. Other versions that were produced included a Christmas edition, Fish bones, and even a standing fish with a microphone. In addition, many variants of Big Mouth Billy Bass were also produced by Gemmy using different types of game fish and other aquatic animals, such as rainbow trout, catfish, lobsters, and so on. The concept was even later adapted into a large mounted deer head and a medium-sized mounted bear head.[2] Big Mouth Billy Bass is pictured in Joshua Oppenheimer's film The Act of Killing (2012).[3]

Popular culture[edit]

The success of the Big Mouth Billy Bass has made it something of a cultural icon. The toys appear frequently in pop culture.

  • The device appears in Lemmy, when Kilmister activates a specimen hanging next to his bathroom mirror in his L.A. home.
  • A Big Mouth Billy Bass has a cameo in WALL-E
  • Big Mouth Billy Bass was also mentioned in Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie wherein Jeff Foxworthy said that a person with more than three of the toys (which Jeff himself is admittedly guilty of) "might be a redneck".
  • Queen Elizabeth has one, which she displays on the grand piano of Balmoral Castle.[2]
  • On Chuck, then-assistant store manager Morgan Grimes sports a Billy Bass on his office wall, emulating his manager and de facto stepfather Big Mike who has a large trophy fish (Marlin) mounted on his office wall.
  • In the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode 1x11, Gil Grissom was seen to own a Big Mouth Billy Bass placed above his office door because its motion sensor was better than a watch dog.
  • On the television show George Lopez, George has a singing fish in his office.
  • It is also seen on the television show The Sopranos (in the 2001 episodes, "...To Save Us All from Satan's Power" and "Second Opinion"), where Tony Soprano beats one of his underlings with it, for leaving it on his desk.
  • It appeared on The Daily Show as "Michele Bachmann's Big Mouth Billie Vagina" in 2011 introduced by The Daily Show's Senior Women Issue Correspondent Kristen Schaal.
  • In the first episode of the fourth season of Whose Line is it Anyway?, Wayne Brady pretends to be a singing bass in the "Dating Game" segment.
  • In the episode The Great Money Caper of The Simpsons, after receiving money in a con-artist ring, Bart asks Homer what to get first, Homer promptly replies, "A singing rubber fish, of course."
  • One appears on the wall of Wernham Hogg offices in The Office, including a brief scene in which David Brent demonstrates it to camera. Unfortunately, the batteries were dead.
  • A similar device, no brand-name given, appears in several of the later Confessions of Georgia Nicolson books, having been brought home from a trip to London by Georgia's father as a gift for her younger sister Libby. It sings "Maybe it's beCOD I'm a Londoner", on loop, and is nicknamed "Mr Fish". Libby repeatedly puts it in Georgia's bed, along with a jar of fishpaste ("snacks for Mr Fish"), and refuses to ever turn it off. Georgia is extremely relieved when the batteries go flat, and annoyed when her father replaces them.
  • In 2012, Big Mouth Billy Bass was a Christmas ornament in Hallmark Cards, Inc. Keepsake Ornament line.
  • In the DVD documentary "Destiny Rules", which chronicles the making of Fleetwood Mac's 2003 studio album Say You Will, Stevie Nicks is shown placing a Big Mouth Billy Bass on a kitchen counter, saying "Alright, now this is going to inject some humor into the recording of this record", whereupon the bass begins to sing "Take Me To The River".


  1. ^ Sobey, Ed; Sobey, Woody (2008). The Way Toys Work: The Science Behind the Magic 8 Ball, Etch a Sketch, Boomerang, and More. Chicago Review. pp. 21–23. ISBN 9781613743096. 
  2. ^ a b Schuessler, Heidi, Getting Under the Skin of a Fish That Can Get Under Yours, The New York Times, December 14, 2000, last accessed May 7, 2008.
  3. ^ McAlinden, Carrie True surrealism: Walter Benjamin and The Act of Killing , BFI, December 3, 2013, last accessed September 28, 2014.