Ole Bull and Old Dan Tucker

"Ole Bull and Old Dan Tucker" is a traditional American song. Several different versions are known, the earliest published in 1844 by the Boston-based Charles Keith company.[1] The song's lyrics tell of the rivalry and contest of skill between Ole Bull (named for Ole Bournemann Bull, a famous violinist) and Dan Tucker (title character of the blackface hit of the same name).[2] The song also satirizes the low pay earned by early minstrel performers: "Ole Bull come to town one day [and] got five hundred for to play."[3]

The song was fairly popular in the minstrel show's first few years. Winans's research found it in 19% of minstrel show programs for the 1843-7 period.[4] A localized version is known, called "Philadelphia Old Bull and Old Dan Tucker".[5]


  1. ^ Mahar 370 note 5.
  2. ^ Mahar 22, 197.
  3. ^ Quoted in Mahar 9-10.
  4. ^ Winans 148.
  5. ^ Mahar 196.


  • Mahar, William J. (1999). Behind the Burnt Cork Mask: Early Blackface Minstrelsy and Antebellum American Popular Culture. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
  • Winans, Robert B. (1996). "Early Minstrel Show Music, 1843–1852". Inside the Minstrel Mask: Readings in Nineteenth-Century Blackface Minstrelsy. Hanover, New Hampshire: Wesleyan University Press.