Who struck John?

Posted by ESC on June 11, 2007

In Reply to: Who struck John? posted by Linda on June 11, 2007

: Does anyone know HOW the phrase WHO STRUCK JOHN originated and whether it originated in the Baltimore, Maryland/Washington, D.C. area? I learned in from my mother and she is from Maryland and I have heard it used by other people from that area. In particular for awhile there was an alternative rock band in Baltimore called Who Struct John. There is a jazz composition by Johnny Hodges called Who Struck John but I've never been able to run down how it got named. Hodges was not from D.C. or Baltimore but he played in the band of Duke Eliington and Ellington WAS from D.C. The phrase means a mild tall tale or white lie - suppose someone tells you an obviously inflated story about a fish he caught; you might respond, "Oh, you are giving me a who struck John!" That is how I've always used it or heard it used; I read somewhere that sometimes it was used to mean "mild chaos" as in "It looks like Who struck John in here!"

I heard something similar in a movie. Two family members started arguing and the mother said, "Don't start that 'Who shot John.'" Meaning, I guess, a recurring argument.