If we were to believe Vince McMahon’s version of professional wrestling history, pro wrestling’s relationship with rock and roll began in 1984 as the WWE was undergoing its national expansion. Sure, having a visible association with Cyndi Lauper, the hottest pop music artist in the country at that time certainly helped to bring wrestling into the main stream, but the story we are told is a bit of an over-simplification.
In fact, just like the cross over into the movies and mainstream pop culture that has seen wrestlers from Mike Mazurki to John Cena parlay their visibility between the ropes into a movie career, perhaps just as many wrestlers have found their way into the recording studio to lend their vocals to a single track and/or full albums. While the following list doesn’t feature any chart topping hit makers, there are some tracks from some of the following 20 artists that will live on in infamy for years to come.
Excluding the releases from WWE records including the original Wrestling Album, Piledriver, and the WrestleMania album, fans might be surprised to learn which of their favorite wrestlers have traded knife edge chops for the opportunity to test their musical chops in the recording studio. Believe it or not, this top 20 is just the tip of the iceberg.
Outside of Portland, Oregon, very few wrestling fans might even know Larry Pitchford. However, in the American Pacific Northwest, under the ring name Beauregarde, Pitchford created one of the territory’s most memorable characters. Debuting in 1963, Beauregarde intrigued audiences by often portraying important historical figures in his pre-match interviews, creating a sense of uncertainty among fans about the sanity of the wrestler. By the 1970s, he was one of the most popular wrestlers ever to appear in the area. Beauregarde holds a unique place in wrestling history and music history as the first wrestler to record a full-length album. The effort, released in 1971 under his assumed ring persona for which he was best known, is still available today by digital download, 45 years after its initial release. In a small way, Pitchford paved the way for dozens of wrestlers who would follow and attempt to eclipse his success with their own musical talents.
19 Jesse Ventura
Given Jesse Ventura’s propensity to take his fame beyond the realm of World Wrestling Entertainment, we can only wonder how well “The Body” would fit in to the current climate of the WWE as an entertainment company of which wrestling is only one facet. Ventura, who appeared in blockbuster Arnold Schwarzeneggar films including Predator and The Running Man, first made his foray into music prior to the WWE’s “Rock ‘n Wrestling Connection.” In 1984, Jesse released “The Body Rules” single. However, we have to believe that if Ventura had even a pinch of talent in this area, he would have been included on The Wrestling Album as more than a commentator to help the listener navigate the tracks on the album. I mean, on a record which included Nikolai Volkoff singing a Russian ballad, surely Jesse had something to offer. In fact, Jesse’s most memorable part on the WWE-produced record is a closing exchange on the album which ends with Jesse bellowing ... “I want to sing!”
18 Terry Funk
By his own admission, Terry Funk wrote that his maiden voyage into the world of music featured “some of the most godawful singing you’ll ever hear.” However even just learning that Terry Funk, a former NWA world champion, a WWE Hall of Famer and generally acknowledged “Hardcore Legend” cut his own record has us intrigued. Funk, who is one of the most visible American wrestlers of all time to appear in Japan, was sought out by a Japanese record producer in 1984 to record an album. The record “Great Texan,” featuring songs written by Jimmy Hart and sung by Terry Funk himself, is sure to be a treasured collector’s item for anyone lucky enough to have secured their own copy of this suspected gem. But if you think that this sounds outrageous – we dare you to seek out the “Incredible Hulk Hogan Japanese commercial” on YouTube. Go ahead, do it. Then come back to this list for more startling discoveries.
17 Kenny Lush
Kenny Lush isn’t a name that fans will recognize from the WWE (yet) though he has carved out a solid reputation for himself on the independent scene in Canada, Korea and select engagements for Ring of Honor, to date. Currently holding stead in Vancouver, British Columbia, the two-time All Star Wrestling Trans-Canada champion is also well recognized in that Pacific Coast city for his career as a musician. As the guitarist for the band Daggermouth, the quartet has released two albums. In 2006, their debut album “Stallone” was followed up with the 2007 “Turf Wars.” We can’t help but wonder if the title of the band’s second album wasn’t inspired by Lush’s accounts of his wrestling career in an environment where rival factions regularly found themselves in conflict while seeking the greater piece of the sports entertainment pie within the local market.
16 Roddy Piper
When we think about the most memorable Roddy Piper moments, chances are that he had a microphone in his hand, or had just dropped it for a more devastating weapon – like a steel chair or a coconut. Originally from Canada, Piper’s first big break in professional wrestling came in the late 1970s while working for Gene LeBell in Los Angeles. While in California, Piper was exposed to a number of avenues that his career could go in the entertainment world. He appeared in bit parts in a few movies and would later go on to a rather successful film career with dozens of roles to his credit. His flair for showmanship was evidenced by his performance on the first wrestling album, reprising a Mike Angelo &
The Idols 1984 hit for general audiences, “For Everybody.” Perhaps that early success with a standout track inspired him to try his hand at recording on his own. In 1992, he released a single “I’m Your Man,” as well as a music video. In 2014, he collaborated with Toronto’s Queen Street Band on a more biographical tune entitled “Off the Top Rope.”
In the ring, Lita has commonly been acknowledged as one of the new school wrestlers that helped to change the game for women’s wrestling in the 21st century. Her series of matches against Trish Stratus have served as the inspiration for the current generation of women’s wrestlers that are taking the sport to even greater heights. However, after suffering a career-ending neck injury, the former WWE Women’s champion moved away from the glare of the ring lights and into another arena that fueled her passion – music. Taking on the role as lead singer, and using her own given name, Amy Dumas, her band the Luchagors released their debut album in 2007.
A punk rock act based in Atlanta, Georgia, the band performed together for eight years before packing it in. Perhaps nine years without a second album and her recent return to the WWE on a full-time basis speaks for itself in terms of her musical success.
In Mexico, star wrestlers hold a special place in pop culture as celebrities. Legendary champions like El Santo famously juggled his ring career with multiple lead roles in movies – appearing in each film in character, wearing his famed ring mask. As the 80s drew to a close, few stars were bigger in Mexico than Konnan. With the look of a bodybuilder, the finesse of a luchadore and the looks that lent themselves well to roles in popular soap operas, it seemed a natural fit to capitalize on the nation’s fascination with the red hot star. In 1992, Konnan recorded “La Ley de Konnan” (Konnan’s law), a hip-hop album which was sold in cassette format. While there were no further musical releases from Konnan, in more recent years, some of the tracks from that album have surfaced online and are available for download. Konnan continues to be one of the most influential figures in Mexican wrestling.
13 Lou Albano
Pre-dating the WWE’s “Rock ‘n Wrestling” revolution, Captain Lou Albano partnered with the band NRBQ in 1982 for the single “Captain Lou” and “Boarding House Pie.” Now, while the single itself may not go down in the annals of rock and roll history, Albano’s visibility in the world of music continued when he was featured in rising star Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” music video, portraying Lauper’s father. While there may have been a lot of things happening behind the scenes, Captain Lou became the friendly face serving as the wrestling ambassador for a fledgling relationship with the world of music. We have to forget the cringe-worthy “History of Music” track featuring Albano from the first Wrestling Album, but the manager of multiple WWE tag team championship duos will forever hold a unique spot in wrestling and music history.
12 John Cena
Over the past 15 years, John Cena has emerged as the face of the WWE. Arguably eclipsing the success of Hulk Hogan before him, Cena has crossed over into film roles as well as music to become one of the most identifiable WWE Superstars of all time. As he started to make his ascent to the top of the roster, he was cast as an edgy white rapper, a “Doctor of Thuganomics,” so it made sense after fans had seen him dropping lyrical in-ring promos to see him record an album in studio, which he did in 2005 with “You Can’t See Me,” a full length hip-hop CD. With the full power of the WWE’s corporate machine behind him, the album debuted at number 15 on the charts, selling 40,000 copies in the first week. In all, the album would go on to sell more than 1.3 million copies worldwide.
11 Hulk Hogan
When Hulk Hogan reached the apex of success in the 1980s, the wrestling media got interested in the life and times of Terry Gene Bollea prior to his life as the leader of Hulkamania. Hogan commonly talked about his musical past as a member of bands in his youth. It became a featured detail of his life that factored into Hogan becoming the face of the WWE’s “Rock ‘n Wrestling Connection.” However, his credibility as a rocker was quickly diminished in 1995 with Hogan and his “Wrestling Boot Band,” which included his wife Linda and long time friend and associate Jimmy Hart.
While die-hard Hulk Hogan fans and collectors of Hogan memorabilia were sure to snap it up, those fans who weren’t devout Hulkamaniacs saw the album for what it was, a collection of tracks that celebrated the artist himself. And we thought that Kanye was full of himself ... apparently, not EVERYTHING Hogan touches turns to gold.
10 Randy Savage
Probably one of the most critically panned wrestler albums of all time has to be Randy Savage’s 2003 attempt at a hip-hop career with his album, “Be a Man.” While Savage earned a modicum of notoriety during the previous year with an appearance in the Spider-Man movie opposite Tobey Maguire as fictional wrestler “Bonesaw,” his venture into the music business would eclipse his success on the silver screen with negative reviews. However, while it was quickly clear that “The Macho Man” wouldn’t be cutting a second record, his album did mark a first among wrestling albums – it was the first time that we witnessed the legitimate bad blood between performers manifested directly through music.
Savage’s bitter resentment toward Hulk Hogan was featured in the title track of the album, as Savage challenged the Hulkster to “Be A Man.” It was a throwback to Savage’s pre-WWE career when newspaper ads for his family’s ICW promotion would commonly call out headliners from the rival Memphis territory, like Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee.
9 Freddie Blassie
By the time that Vince McMahon envisioned taking over the entire wrestling world in 1984, Freddie Blassie was long past the prime of his career. Still, the self-professed “Hollywood Fashion Plate” would bring with him some unconventional experience that would prove to be a fit within the WWE’s culture as they ventured beyond wrestling audiences to try to gain a foothold on the American mainstream. Blassie, himself was a notorious character throughout his career, relishing any opportunity to get his face on television and in the movies.
In 1975, he released a single which included two tracks – “Blassie, King of Men” and “Pencil Necked Geek” – in homage to his favorite taunt to television and live audiences during his career. He followed this up with the 1982 single “Hey Fred” and a full album in 1983 entitled, “I Bite the Songs”. So, while many traditionalists cringed at Vince’s efforts to go mainstream, Blassie was already a decade ahead of what was yet to come.
8 Chad Brock
During the height of the Monday Night War, it appeared that both sides would capitalize on any advantage to try to one up the other. WCW became the home to many former WWE stars and launched characters like “The Renegade” as an Ultimate Warrior clone and tried to adapt WWE trademarked characters as little as possible to capitalize on the fans’ familiarity with those stars – such as the Big Boss Man becoming The Boss, and Earthquake being dubbed Avalanche. As such, the debut of Chad Brock, billed as an aspiring country music artist, felt like WCW was going back to the well to re-create a gimmick that the WWE had done three years earlier with Jeff Jarrett. However, in Chad Brock’s case, it was legitimate. While Brock wouldn’t go on to become a household name in wrestling, he did release three country albums – a self-titled debut in 1998, “Yes!” in 2000 and "III" in 2001. A few of Chad’s releases received a lot of radio play during the day, including “Ordinary Life.”
7 Sweet Daddy Siki
In the 1960s, “Mr. Irresistable” Sweet Daddy Siki was a sight to behold, an African-American wrestler from Texas with a bleached blonde afro and sideburns, a James Brown style smock, and sunglasses to complete the look. However, as great as his accolades between the ropes, Siki has also enjoyed a lifetime behind the microphone, first recording the single, “The Love She’s Been Givin’ Belongs to Me,” and then later, two full albums. A self-titled album in 1971 was quickly followed by 1972’s “Sweet Daddy Siki Squares Off With Country Music.”
Astonishingly, copies of some of these early recordings are listed for as much as $151 per record online today. Long retired from the wrestling business, Siki continues to perform as a singer regularly though exploits in the music business are much lower profile today. Sweet Daddy continues to be a regular fixture on the Toronto karaoke club scene.
6 "Exotic" Adrian Street
“Exotic” Adrian Street created a stir wherever he appeared in North America in the 1980s for his flamboyant costumes and effeminate persona. In fact, with his teased out hair style, lipstick and glittery face paint, while he set himself apart from the crowd in the wrestling realm, he seemed like an ideal fit for the glam rock scene of that decade. In 1986, Street recorded “Shake, Wrestle and Roll,” a full album which featured a number of wrestling-themed tracks, including “Breakin’ Bones,” and “Violence is Golden,” as well as the title track. Many of the songs from the album later appeared in the feature film Grunt! The Wrestling Movie, in which Street also made a cameo appearance.
In the late 80s, it seemed that every wrestling magazine on the newsstand carried ads for Street’s album. Though Adrian released only one record, it had both the visibility and notoriety to land the Exotic One at number six on our list.
5 Jerry Lawler
Seeing Jerry “The King” Lawler behind a microphone is a familiar sight for wrestling fans over the past generation, but how many people are aware that the self-professed King of Memphis has a track record as a recording artist as well? It’s true. Jerry Lawler was in the recording studio in Memphis not long after he launched his wrestling career and actually recorded seven different singles over the years, the first in 1975. In the 1980s, he released his first full album, “Jerry Lawler Sings,” an effort which credited Jimmy Hart for his help on the project. That wasn’t the end, either. Lawler was back in the studio in 1997 for an album entitled “Memphis’ Other King” and again in 2007 with headline billing backed by the Nunnery Brothers Band. Given his career longevity, these albums are highly sought by members of the internet wrestling community who would love to get their hands on these rare wrestling-related artifacts.
4 Mickie James
While many of the artists and albums featured on this list have been launched with great support from diehard wrestling fans and panned by the critics, Mickie James appears to be poised for a post-wrestling career as a country singer. The Virginia native who pursued music as a violinist in her youth emerged to become one of the hottest wrestling stars of the 2000s. Under the name Alexis Laree on the independents and later as Mickie James, she claimed five WWE Women’s title reigns, one run as WWE Divas champion and later became a three-time TNA Knockouts champion.
Switching gears to a music career, in 2010 she released her first album, “Strangers and Angels” and has followed up on that with a second album, 2013’s “Somebody’s Gonna Pay.” Whether in the ring capturing championships or under the bright spotlight at center stage, there is little doubt that Mickie James was destined to be a star.
3 Michael Hayes
There can be little doubt that Michael “P.S.” Hayes relished his legacy as a professional wrestling bad boy, but his forays into music suggest that had wrestling not worked out, he may have entered the fray to compete with glam rockers like Vince Neil and Bret Michaels on the rock stage. Hayes first threw his hat into the recording ring in 1987 with the album “Off the Streets,” capitalizing on the popularity of the Fabulous Freebirds’ entrance theme “Badstreet USA.” Later, he wrote and recorded the single “Freebird Forever” for the 1992 WCW Slam Jam album and most recently recorded single “Freebird Road” in tribute to his former tag team partner, Terry Gordy. His sincere efforts are almost enough to make us forget about the 1990s re-launch of the Freebirds with Jimmy Garvin that included a jazzy live performance of “I’m A Freebird, so what is your excuse?” that went horribly wrong.
2 Jimmy Hart
It was actually because of his track record in the music industry that first enticed Jerry Lawler to seek out Jimmy Hart and bring him into the fold as a manager in the Memphis territory in the early 1980s. Best remembered by wrestling fans as a megaphone brandishing annoyance in the corner of some of the most colorful villains of the era, Jimmy Hart had first made his mark in music in the 1960s as a member of the band, “The Gentrys,” even surpassing the one million sales mark on one of their albums, “Keep on Dancing.” When he arrived in the WWE in the mid-80s, he used that visibility to launch a solo album, “Outrageous Conduct,” which included the pop culture classic, “Eat Your Heart out Rick Springfield.”
Behind the scenes, Jimmy has been one of the leading composers to create custom entrance music for the WWE stars, most famously composing Shawn Michaels’ theme “Sexy Boy.” In addition, Jimmy Hart has been credited with assisting Jerry Lawler and Terry Funk with their recording projects and was a member of Hulk Hogan’s “Wrestling Boot Band” in the 1990s.
1 Chris Jericho
Dubbing himself the “Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla,” Jericho is the most appropriate person to top this list. Given the number of projects in which Jericho has been involved outside his wrestling career between television, book-writing and in music, he may be one of the greatest all-around pop culture icons of his generation. As the front man for the band Fozzy, adopting the alternate stage name “Mongoose McQueen,” Jericho has recorded seven albums between 2000 and 2014, including a live album in 2009. Jericho has juggled touring commitments with the band and intermittent stays in the WWE, while maintaining an aggressive worldwide schedule.
Interestingly, when Jericho appeared on the Fox reality TV series Celebrity Duets in 2006, he was the first contestant to be eliminated. After delivering a strong performance partnered with Peter Frampton, he was stymied on a country tune with Lee Ann Womack. In his dismissal, judge David Foster gave a nod to his real strengths, suggesting that he had the pipes that would seem to be best fitting for him to front his own rock band.
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