Phish.net: a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation


Performances Song History Lyrics Jamming Chart

Big Black Furry Creature from Mars

Also Known As: BBFCFM

Music/Lyrics: Gordon

Vocals: Mike (lead), Fish, Page, Trey (backing)

Albums: Hampton Comes Alive, Colorado '88, At the Roxy, Alpine Valley

Debut: 1987-08-21

Historian: Ellis Godard (lemuria)

Last Update: 2015-06-18

Just barely more complex than the one-word, one-chord “Anarchy,"  “BBFCFM” opens with a three-note, death-metal rage followed by Mike asking, “Why are you running (away)?” After a brief pause, the band responds with a raging attack of noise and the repeated refrain,“’Cause you’re a big black furry creature from Mars.” After a second pause, Fishman typically counts out “1-2-3-4” (sometimes rather quickly) just before a renewed attack phase. In a final section of the song, the attack/refrain segment is repeated four times, sliding up a scale, leading to a final abrupt ending.

Through 1996, versions included an overabundance of dry-ice fog and strobe lights, typically with Trey running around swinging his guitar or a megaphone. (Trey and Mike dove back and forth on 4/24/92, and Trey stood on his stacks during 5/2/92). The 5/11/91 version is uncharacteristic for having a Trey solo (and an aggressive one, as if he were the monster), as are versions with horns on 3/9/90 (Dave Grippo) and 7/19/91 (Giant Country Horns). The count was done by Cameron McKinney on 4/18/92 and Mimi Fishman on 4/8/94.



"Big Black Furry Creature from Mars" – 7/19/91, Somerville, MA

The Creature has at times been frivolous, such as the 5/14/88 dedication to Steely Dan, the 4/6/92 audience making guacamole during the jab, and Trey using a beer bottle as a guitar slide on 6/6/96. Popular variations include the 3/13/92 “Run like a Big Black Furry Antelope”; 11/19/92, which contained lyrics from “I Walk the Line” and "Ring of Fire" as well as a "Ring of Fire" tease; and 7/13/94, which was to the music of “Scent of a Mule.”

More common than lyrical changes, "BBFCFM" frequently includes teases of a television theme, including: Flintstones 8/6/88; Popeye 11/3/88; Brady Bunch 4/3/90 and 7/24/91; I Love Lucy 7/19/91, 7/24/91, and 9/28/91; and Leave it to Beaver 3/28/93. Other teases in “Creature” have included “Simple Gifts” by Trey on 3/29/91, “St. Thomas” by Grippo and Fishman on 11/23/91, “Divided Sky” by Trey on 8/8/93, and “Electric Funeral” by Mike on 12/11/97.

Several shows have featured multiple Creatures, including 5/16/94 (when it was dispersed through the second set), 6/21/94 (when it segued into a "Ginseng Sullivan"), and 7/15/03 (when it emerged from “Low Rider” and was followed by transitions to and from “Buried Alive,” “Ha Ha Ha,” and “Mr. Completely.”)

Other prominent segues include 12/29/93 out of “Contact” and into “Walk Away”; 6/14/94 into “Purple Rain”; 11/22/94, providing a transition from electric to acoustic setups; 12/1/94 out of “Tweezer” and into “Makisupa”; 11/18/95 into “Acoustic Army”; 12/29/95 into the classic Mike-Jim Stinnett Bass Duet; and 12/11/97 out of “Roses are Free."

“BBFCFM” still poses the eternal questions of life and death in the modern era, though they’ve let the creature out with far less frequency than earlier eras. Check out 8/15/10 on the Alpine Valley DVD, 7/3/11 Watkins Glen with Twighlight Zone and Leave It To Beaver theme teases, or during the Halloween gambles on 10/31/10 Atlantic City and 10/31/14 Las Vegas.



"Big Black Furry Creature from Mars" – 10/31/10, Atlantic City, NJ

Submit notes/corrections

Login Register