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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)

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. (The count was done by Cameron McKinney on 4/18/92 and Mimi Fishman on 4/8/94.) 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.

"Creature" has occasionally followed a lyrical or performance error (such as the 11/9/87Divided Sky” or the 7/3/95Lizards”) as if some creature was threatening the performance - or, perhaps, represents the frustrations of delivering one. 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 (the Giant Country Horns). 

Setlist placement has also been dramatic: Most versions have been in a second set or encore, and many of those as the last song. 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). 

But the Creature hasn't always been dramatic; often, it's 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", which was followed by the only recorded Big Black Furry Creature From Mars Reprise;), 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”; 11/18/94 into “Acoustic Army”; 12/29/95 into the classic Mike-Jim Stinnett Bass Duet; and 12/11/97 out of “Roses are Free”.

Others are good even without any of the antics or theatrics that so often accompany the Creature. Check out 10/31/10:



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

The song's title is also the name of a tribute band.

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