Big Boy Pete

Lyrics: Harris, Terry
Music: Harris, Terry

Sung a few times by Pigpen with the Grateful Dead in the early days, and then revived once by Bob Weir in 1985

The joint was jumping on the corner
Down on Honky Tonk Street
All of a sudden up pulled a Cadillac
drove And out stepped a cat named Pete

A diamond on every finger
diamonds He wore a tailor-made suit
He smoked a black cigar, he wore a Stetson hat
He wore a pair of cowboy boots

Busted on through the doorway
Mad as he could be
Said, don't mess around, I'll cut you down
'Cause my name is Big Boy Pete

The music stopped, there wasn't a sound
Over in the corner stood Bad Man Brown
Brown smiled and grinned, he said my friend
If you take two steps further, I'm going to do you in
come three steps
Pete said look here buddy
I know I'm going to tan your hide
I got a fourty five, keeps me alive
Got seven bullets on my side

Brown pulled a knife, jumped on Pete
They fought from the counter right on out to the street
They swung from north, they swung from south
Brown cut that black cigar right out of Pete's mouth
Pete hit the ground, he yelled and screamed
Then he took his Stetson hat and fleed the scene

If you're ever down on the corner
Down on Honky Tonk Street
Don't mess around he'll cut you down
Take a lesson from Big Boy Pete

Recordings from dead.net Tapers Section


Origins
The song was written by Don & Dewey (Don Harris and Dewey Terry) and released by them as a single in 1959. It became a hit when the Olympics covered it the following year.

The Dead followed the Olympics' version pretty closely, which in turn was very close to the original Don & Dewey version. There are really only two differences worth noting: The full Don & Dewey version is (with differences marked in italics):
The joint was jumping on the corner
Down on Honky Tonk Street
All of a sudden up drove a Cadillac
And out stepped a cat named Pete

Diamonds on every finger
He wore a tailor-made suit
He smoked a black cigar, he wore a Stetson hat
He wore a pair of cowboy boots

He busted on through the doorway
Just as bad as he can be
He pulled out his pistol, he turned around
He said my name is Big Boy Pete

The music stopped, there wasn't a sound
Over in the corner stood Bad Man Brown
Brown smiled and grinned, he said my friend
Come three steps further, and I'll do you in

Now Pete said look here buddy
Before I tan your hide
I got a fourty five, to keep me alive
And seven bullets on my side

Brown pulled a knife, he jumped on Pete
They fought from the counter right on out to the street
They swung from north, they swung from south
Brown cut that black cigar right out of Pete's mouth
Brown slipped around behind poor Pete
Cut him from his head right on down to his [beak]
Pete hit the ground, he yelled and screamed
Then he took his Stetson hat and fleed the scene

If you're ever down on the corner
Down on Honky Tonk Street
Don't mess with Brown he'll cut you down
Take a lesson from Big Boy Pete



Futher Information
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography

 


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