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.
19 Jesse Ventura
18 Terry Funk
17 Kenny Lush
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 &
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.
13 Lou Albano
12 John Cena
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.
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.
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.
8 Chad Brock
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.”
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.
5 Jerry Lawler
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.
3 Michael Hayes
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.”
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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