Big Mouth Billy Bass is an animatronic singing prop, representing a largemouth bass, invented on December 16, 1998, sold on January 1, 1999, 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. The product was conceived by Gemmy Industries product development vice president Joe Pellettieri following a visit to a Bass Pro Shop. The device 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 intended to startle a passerby. Eventually, a button was added to activate it. In addition, many variants of Big Mouth Billy Bass were also produced by Gemmy using different types of game fish and other aquatic animals, with some of them being Travis the Rainbow Trout, Cool Catfish, and Rocky Lobster. The concept was even later adapted into a large mounted deer head, known as Buck the Animated Trophy, which is voiced by actor Clint Ford, and a medium-sized mounted bear head.
Big Mouth Billy Bass Sings for the Holidays
On December 7, 1999, a special holiday version of the Billy Big Mouth Bass was released by Gemmy Industries. The fish had a Santa hat on his head and a ribbon with a sleigh bell on his tail.
- The blues version sings: "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (December 7, 1999.)
- The country version sings: "Jingle Bells" and "Up On The Housetop" (November 30, 2000.)
Other versions of the Big Mouth Billy Bass
The following are some other versions of the Big Mouth Billy Bass that were released by Gemmy Industries:
- Big Mouth Billy Bones - Sings "Bad to the Bone". (September 28, 1999.)
- Big Mouth Billy Bass Superstar - Sings "Act Naturally" and "I Will Survive". (2000)
- Big Mouth Billy Bass Jr. - Sings "Take Me to the River" and "I Will Survive". (2004)
- Big Mouth Billy Bass REC/PLAY - Sings "Take Me to the River". (2009-2011)
- Big Mouth Billy Bass 15th Anniversary - Sings "Don't Worry be Happy" and "I Will Survive". (Mid 2014-Late 2015.)
- Big Mouth Billy Bones 15th Anniversary - Sings "Bad to the Bone". (Halloween 2015)
- Singing Zombie Fish - Sings "I Will Survive". (Halloween 2015)
- Big Mouth Billy Bass 15th Anniversary Christmas Edition - Sings "Jingle Bells" and "I Will Survive". (Christmas 2015)
In popular culture
The success of the Big Mouth Billy Bass has made it a icon that appears frequently in pop culture. Some of the prop's appearances include:
- A Big Mouth Billy Bass appears in Lemmy, when Kilmister activates the device hanging next to his bathroom mirror in his Los Angeles home.
- A Big Mouth Billy Bass has a cameo in the 2008 film WALL-E.
- Big Mouth Billy Bass was mentioned in the 2003 film 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 a Big Mouth Billy Bass, which she displays on the grand piano of Balmoral Castle.
- On Chuck, then-assistant store manager Morgan Grimes sports a Big Mouth 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.
- The device is 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.
- The device 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 seventh episode of the twelfth season of The Simpsons, The Great Money Caper, 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".
- On the television show, The Last Man on Earth, multiple Big Mouth Billy Bass are used by main character, Tandy (Will Forte), as a security motion sensor device.
- In the 2010 video game Fallout: New Vegas, Cass, a possible companion to the player, admits to never having seen a real fish, however notes that a bar she had visited in Redding had a plastic one mounted on the wall which used to be able to sing.
- Big Mouth Billy Bass is pictured in Joshua Oppenheimer's film The Act of Killing (2012).
- A Singing Fish appeared in a SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Lost and Found"
- In the "You're All Going to Diet" episode of The Last Man on Earth in 2016, numerous singing fishes perform the Three Dog Night song "Joy to the World" as an alarm system.