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Paula Kelly (third from right) and Chita Rivera (second from right) as seductive dance hostess girls performing "Big Spender" in
Sweet Charity (1969).

"Big Spender" is a song written by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields for the musical Sweet Charity, first performed in 1966. It is sung, in the musical, by the dance hostess girls; it was choreographed by Bob Fosse for the Broadway musical and the 1969 film.[1] It is set to the beat of a striptease as the girls taunt the customers.[2]


Shirley Bassey versionEdit

"Big Spender"
Single by Shirley Bassey
ReleasedSeptember 1967[3]
Format45 RPM
GenreJazz, vocal
LabelUnited Artists Records
Songwriter(s)Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields
Producer(s)Norman Newell[3]

A hit version of the song by Shirley Bassey reached #21 in the UK Singles Chart in December 1967.[4] This version is featured in the 2004 film The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, and in the 2005 film Nynne. The song has become one of Bassey's signature songs. She has performed the song numerous times, most notably for the 80th birthday of Prince Philip. She also sang it at the 2007 Glastonbury Festival.[5]

In December 2007, it was re-released in a new remixed version as a digital download. This was the third and final single released from the album Get the Party Started. The single features a remix from Pink Pound and two instrumental remixes that were not included on the album release. Unlike the previous two singles this track featured a remix of a previous released recording, the vocal track was taken from a session recorded in 1984 for the album I Am What I Am. There was no promotion undertaken for the single and no video was made to support the release.

Track listingEdit

  1. Big Spender
  2. Dangerous Game[6]

Other versionsEdit

Recorded versionsEdit

Live performancesEdit

  • In the late 1970s Tom Waits often used to perform "Big Spender" as a medley with the song "Small Change".
  • Queen performed it Live at Wembley Stadium on 12 July 1986, and also performed it live in the early 1970s, including the concert recording, A Night at the Odeon (Hammersmith 1975).
  • Dionne Warwick and Debby Boone performed the song on Boone's show One Step Closer in 1982.
  • The Pussycat Dolls performed the song live at the 2004 MTV Asia Awards, with Melody Thornton on lead vocals.[8]
  • The Pussycat Dolls Doll Domination Tour that started in 2009, featured Ashley Roberts, Jessica Sutta, and Kimberly Wyatt dancing "Big Spender", following by a performance by Melody Thornton.

Parodies and alternate lyricsEdit

  • The song appeared in Muriel Cigar commercials in the 1970s, sung by Edie Adams. A modified version of the tune entreated the viewer to "...spend a little dime with me", referring to the price of a Muriel Cigar.
  • In an episode of British Asian sketch comedy show Goodness Gracious Me, the cast perform a parody of the song called "Big Spinster".
  • In the "Two Bad Neighbors" episode of The Simpsons, Homer Simpson performed the song at a yard sale with new lyrics to reflect the merchandise he is promoting.
  • In the Discworld Noir computer game the 'Troll Saphire' performed a parody of "Big Spender", with the opening lyrics as "The minute you walked through the wall, I could tell that you were a troll of destruction"
  • In the "Viva Mars Vegas" episode of Futurama, a parody version is played of "Big Spender", with the lyrics as "Hey Rich Lobster", when Dr. Zoidberg shows up at a casino on Mars with millions of dollars to spend and lose.
  • A controversial video with flight attendants entreating an elite frequent flier made news in February 2019, generating protest from the flight attendants' union.


Television and film appearancesEdit


  1. ^ Listing with plot synopsis and production notes, accessed March 17, 2009
  2. ^ Furia, Philip, America's Songs (2006), CRC Press, ISBN 0-415-97246-9, p. 287
  3. ^ a b "Shirley Bassey - Big Spender - Discogs". 9 January 2016.
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 44–45. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  5. ^ Needham, Alex.ReivewThe Guardian, 24 June 2007
  6. ^ "Big Spender - Discogs". 9 January 2016.
  7. ^ Peggy Lee listing, accessed March 17, 2009
  8. ^ "Love, Peas and understanding at the MTV Asia Awards 2004 | Young Star, Lifestyle Features, The Philippine Star". 2004-02-20. Retrieved 2016-09-30.

External linksEdit