The Wrestling Album: An Oral History
On November 20, 1985, The Wrestling Album entered the Billboard Top 100. It remains one of the most bizarre, eclectic, and enduring legacies of wrestling's mainstream popularity.
On November 30, 1985, one of the most original, influential, and inconsequential albums in rock-and-roll history debuted at No. 174 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. The record would scratch, claw, and eye-gouge its way up to No. 84, where it remained for two weeks in January 1986, before crashing back down on the mat. It wasn't a critical darling or an artistic success, nor did it have a single hit in the Hot 100. But three decades on, The Wrestling Album still holds the championship belt for being the most popular record ever made by professional wrestlers.
The album featured a cast of characters to rival any Royal Rumble, the back-beating heart of what came to be known as the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection, a term coined by the man at the center of all, Dave Wolff. A musician, songwriter, producer, and—perhaps most crucially, given it was the 1980s—Cyndi Lauper's manager and boyfriend, Wolff fulfilled a childhood dream by uniting his two loves, music and the bedlam of the squared circle.
This is the untold story of The Wrestling Album, the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection, and that time Andre the Giant drank an airplane dry. OOOOH YEAH!
Dave Wolff: My dad was a wrestling fan back in the days of Bruno Sammartino and Haystack Calhoun. He got me into it young, six or seven. In high school, he took me to a match in Stamford, Connecticut, where they set up a ring on the football field. I was in seventh heaven. Once I started to understand the theater of it, wrestling became a passion of mine.
In 1983, Cyndi Lauper released her debut album, She's So Unusual. Its first single, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," needed a video, and Wolff had just the guy in mind for a starring role.
We cast Cyndi's actual mom to play her mother in the "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" video—she was terrific by the way—and I thought Captain Lou Albano would be perfect for her father. I didn't know him—I was just a major fan—but Cyndi had once met him on a flight coming back from Puerto Rico. The video's producer knew Vince McMahon, and the two connections worked to get Lou. I was so thrilled, like a little kid. I met him at the studio in New York, and from the minute we shook hands, we were best friends. Initially, he wouldn't share anything about wrestling; it was all very secretive back then. Wrestlers even had expressions they used as code around civilians. Over time, he opened up and became my mentor. We came up with story that he was really Cyndi's manager and I was the fraud. We created a big event, took the soap opera of wrestling, put it into rock, and never looked back.
Lennie Petze (executive producer She's So Unusual, The Wrestling Album): In the early 80s, Dave Wolff brought Cyndi Lauper to me and I signed her to Portrait Records. She was with Blue Angel, a band I didn't like, so we convinced her to do a solo project. We realized that Lauper was bringing in a mostly female audience, and we needed to get more of the young male demographic buying her record. The storyline that developed of Lauper owing Captain Lou record royalties and each of them managing a wrestler, Wendi Richter and the Fabulous Moolah, was huge. Lauper was a star, but I honestly believe the WWF guys helped her go to a whole other level.
Jimmy Brawoler (drummer, The Wrestling Album; producer, writer, arranger, etc. on 30 Billboard Top Ten singles): My career really took off when I started drumming at the Power Station, a studio on 53rd Street. I worked with a lot of big stars in the 1980s: Kurtis Blow, Madonna, Duran Duran, Mick Jagger, Peter Gabriel, and Cyndi Lauper. Like everybody in town, I knew Dave Wolff, who was the link between rock and wrestling. He wasn't the only pro wrestling fan around though. A lot of us grew up with it. I watched the old guys on WOR Channel 9, but nobody talked about wrestling until Dave put it together with the music. All of a sudden, guys come out of the closet, looking around sheepishly until we figured out that a bunch of us were wrestling fans. It was like cocaine. Nobody admits to wanting blow until somebody breaks it out and everybody's doing it.
Wolff: In the beginning, Cyndi wasn't a big wrestling fan, but she has a vibrant personality and an incredible sense of humor, so she just got it. She rolled with me and we watched this Rock 'n' Wrestling thing become massive.
Nikolai Volkoff (WWF star; vocals, "Cara Mia"; available for matches and promotional events, BookProWrestlers.com): We were huge. Me and Iron Shiek were most hated wrestlers in the United States. The Cold War, Hostages in Iran. I fled Russia and then Freddie Blassie asked me to play a bad guy, a Communist sympathizer. I said, "I escaped those bastards." He said, "That's the business." I said OK. Fans took it serious, but I could take it. Playing Nikolai Volkoff got me in the Goonies video. I got to meet Cyndi Lauper, who is a beautiful person.
The Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection was less a formal production than a freewheeling roadshow. Lauper and Wolff started appearing on Piper's Pit, Roddy Piper's segment. Out of that came a hugely outrageous Madison Square Garden moment that included Dick Clark, Hulk Hogan, and an uninvited guest. WWF fans probably recall the War to Settle the Score, which set up the main event at the first WrestleMania, but fans may not remember what that score was in the first place.
Wolff: In between matches at a Madison Square Garden event, I set up a ceremony for Cyndi to receive an award from our friend Dick Clark for her "Contributions to Women's Wrestling." Two weeks prior, I called Piper and told him I wasn't going to get body-slammed without training. I needed to know what I was in for, what it feels like. We practiced at the WWF gym in Stamford. They had a ring set up in a warehouse, and Roddy threw me down like ten times. I'd be freaking out, he'd be laughing, but at least I knew what to expect. When Roddy came into the ring, I knew it was show time, but my face was white as a ghost. I was really scared. We hadn't told anybody except for the principals involved and my dad, who was in the audience. He was a crazed enough fan without watching his son get manhandled, so I had to let him know something big was going to happen to me.
As Piper was slamming me to the mat, a cop who didn't know what was going on jumped into the ring to break it up, got in the way, and forced Roddy to drive me down on my shoulder and side instead of straight on my back. The Garden went dead silent. They came and carried me off on a stretcher, which was planned, but when I got backstage my body was killing me. I had to go to a chiropractor for two weeks to get right.
Brawoler: I'm pretty sure getting body-slammed by Piper was the pinnacle of Wolff's life.
The Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection spawned all sorts of storylines, side projects, and whatever crap McMahon could license. (WWE did not respond to several requests for participation in this story.) Naturally, the idea of The Wrestling Album came flying off the top rope.
Wolff: I don't recall the exact chronology, but I came up with the idea for The Wrestling Album. I talked to Lou and Roddy about it. They said great, make a deal with Vince. I did, then went to Epic Records, and it came together. I hired all the producers, songwriters, musicians, and picked the wrestlers. Everyone involved was into it.
Hillbilly Jim (WWF star; vocals, "Don't Go Messin' with a Country Boy"): Everything came so fast at us in those days. It was surreal. The WWF was breaking ground in merchandising and marketing: cartoon series, action figures, board games, our pictures on notebook pads for kids. This record thing popped up real quick. The WWF was voracious in coming up with ideas and executing them.
Lenny Pickett (horns, banjo, jew's harp, The Wrestling Album; Saturday Night Live musical director since 1995): In 1983, I was on the "Serious Moonlight" tour with David Bowie, in the 1970s I was in Tower of Power, so I'd worked with all kinds of people. Somebody knew somebody and recommended me to play saxophone on The Wrestling Album. It wasn't all that uncommon in those days. Studio musicians would be brought into play on all kinds of crazy projects. That kind of active play-on-everything session musician scene isn't really around anymore, but when I heard about The Wrestling Album, I thought it was a funny concept that could work because it had a built-in commercial audience. I knew Cyndi Lauper a little bit, so I was following her Roddy Piper wrestling feud. But I wouldn't have questioned the record even if I wasn't. Not my job to question a paying gig.
Petze: It didn't take much to convince the label to do the record. I answered to the vice-president of Epic and he was in from the beginning. It was a pretty spontaneous production. A lot of albums are a battle, take a year or more, but this one was easy because the idea was right. Songs came in one right after another, over the course of maybe a four-week period. The spirit of fun of everyone involved matched Wolff's vision.
Wolff: Vince loved the basic concept, so he gave me free reign, but we also collaborated. He sat down and pointed out things that should be tweaked. In the early days, we had a great working relationship. It didn't last—everything changes with that guy—but while making The Wrestling Album, we had fantastic rapport.
Pickett: Around that time, I worked on a lot of interesting collaborations. There was a mixing together of different styles like Hall & Oates with the Temptations, Bowie and Jagger did "Dancing in the Streets," and Duran Duran guys teamed up with Robert Palmer in the Power Station, had a big hit with "Some Like It Hot." The Wrestling Album was the same sort of thing. It certainly wasn't the worst idea I've been a part of.
Brawoler: Compact discs came out in 1982. They were big, big, business, and with exposure on MTV, you could sell a ton of units in a short time. Wolff knew it. He became a bit of a Svengali figure bringing Lauper together with all of these characters of dysfunction, but it grew out of a real love of wrestling. His cockamamie scheme worked. You can't argue with the results. Lauper was a super-duper-star and The Wrestling Album, it was one of those records...
Wolff: It's a novelty album, but novelty can't be done right if it isn't treated with respect. If the idea is better than the execution, then you have nothing. I couldn't do things haphazardly. I was committed down to the last detail. Silliness requires serious thought beforehand to flourish.
At its core, The Wrestling Album is a concept album—it just happens to be one that includes the Mouth of the South calling out Rick Springfield, the Aussie heartthrob of "Jessie's Girl" fame. A lot of weird stuff was tolerated in the 80s, but the songs had to be at least listenable.
Wolff: Most wrestlers were into it, but a couple were against me—not with antagonism but just that I was an outsider. The Magnificent Muraco thought I was fucking with his business. Eventually, I convinced him it was a natural pairing. I had to earn their respect, but eventually, I became one of the WWF guys on a certain level.
Brawoler: The dirty secret of making records is that it's usually a serious, closed-off thing and not much fun. This was the opposite—everyone knew it was goofy. The only approach was to have a good time with it. All of the wrestlers were cool, really nice guys, and funny as hell. They were rock stars in their own way, road warriors, but for being crazy vagabond performers, they were very professional in the recording studio. They took direction, did what they were asked. The Wrestling Album was uncharted territory; it became a mutual admiration society between the musicians and these giant personalities.
Wolff: One of the driving forces is that I wanted every wrestler to have their own walk-in theme music. Before The Wrestling Album, it was always "Eye of the Tiger" or something like that. Why not give these guys their own unique songs? I didn't audition anyone, I went with my gut feeling. Roddy was interesting because he was my friend, but I wasn't entirely sure he could handle it. I knew he would get uptight if it wasn't going well, so he'd feel insecure and we wouldn't get authentic Roddy Piper. The song was perfect for him and he nailed it. Funny thing, the song is actually "Fuck Everybody," but on the record it's "For Everybody." The way he sang it, it sounds like the original version. Everybody got the point.
Brawoler: I poured the concrete for a lot of the tracks on the album. We had no idea if any of them could even sing. This was the early days of "making beats," so we knew we could modify some stuff electronically, but for the most part, for what the record was, they held their own.
Wolff: We wrote some songs. Other guys picked classics, like Mean Gene Okerlund, who covered "Tutti Frutti." Okerlund could really sing. So could Mouth of the South, who did "Eat Your Hart Out, Rick Springfield." Jimmy Hart had been a part of a band called The Gentrys who had a top five hit, "Keep on Dancing." He was a real rocker... Nikolai Volkoff was deadly serious about "Cara Mia." He had a somewhat operatic voice, stayed in pitch, and could really belt it out. It was heartfelt. Perfect.
Volkoff: My grandfather was opera singer and I like classical music myself. My grandfather took me to his teacher for a singing lesson, but I see all my friends outside swimming in summertime. One lesson was enough for me. I still felt good going into the studio after Dave told me to sing "Cara Mia," even though I have one day to learn it. The guy said, "Do it again, do it again." We did it ten times to get the timing and the tempo. They had professionals who know what to do, so on "Cara Mia," I think I did good job.
Wolff: "Grab them Cakes" was a song I'd written in the disco days of the late 70s. When we got Vicki Sue Robinson, who sang the monster hit "Turn the Beat Around," to perform with Junkyard Dog—everything just felt so right.
"Don't Go Messin' with a Country Boy," Hillbilly Jim's theme song, was penned by two pedigreed songwriters: Marshall Chapman and Doc Pomus. It still serves as the opener for "Moonshine Matinee," his weekly SiriusXM Radio show.
Hillbilly Jim: I'm from the South, so I learned to play guitar and sing at nine years old. Way back when, I would go out and do little gigs. I didn't enjoy the hassle of it all that much, so I didn't stick with it. But the background helped both my careers, wrestling and radio. I'm happy I came along at the right time. If you missed the 60s, you've got a hole in your musical soul. Point is, I've been a big music fan my whole life. So the first time I read the lyrics they sent me for "Don't Go Messin' with a Country Boy," I said, "Aww man, this sucks. I don't want to do this. It's hokey as hell."
Marshall Chapman: I met Doc Pomus in New York in 1977. He's one of the great songwriters in American pop music history. Doc wrote songs like The Drifters "Save the Last Dance," Elvis Presley's "Little Sister," and Ray Charles's "Lonely Avenue." He was a good friend and mentor to me before he passed away in 1991. Doc had polio as a child, and he was wheelchair-bound, so whenever I was in New York, I'd go to his apartment on the Upper West Side. One time, I go breezin' in and Doc's sitting up in his bed talking on the phone...
Chapman recounted Pomus's conversation in her memoir: Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller: "I've got just the right person standing right here in my apartment... She's a terrific songwriter... yeah, from Nashville... knows all about country music... yeah, no problem... OK..." After hanging up the phone, Pomus turned to Chapman and said, "You're not gonna believe this shit. They're wanting a song for some wrestler, a guy named Hillbilly Jim. It's Cyndi Lauper's people. They're doing an album of singing wrestlers. They've got Hulk Hogan and everybody. But they want a theme song for this Hillbilly Jim guy. Something like 'The Ballad of Davy Crockett.' You up for it?"
Chapman: We wrote it in like fifteen minutes.
Hillbilly Jim: Marshall Chapman didn't know me from a monkey in a damn zoo. She just happened to walk through the door. That's how it happened. I bet more big things started out kooky than you'd ever believe.
Chapman: They wanted a theme song for a wrestler in bib overalls. I didn't watch wrestling, so I just went on the Davy Crockett idea, a backstory: "killed a bear, when he was only three..." I also thought of the old folk song about John Henry, about how strong he was, so I wrote the lyric "When I was a lil' boy baby, I cut my teeth on a big ole' tree." Hillbilly Jim still gives me shit about that line, but it scanned well.
Hillbilly Jim: My character was a big old guy from Mudlick, Kentucky, who wasn't supposed to be sharp or worldly. I didn't have fancy moves. I had a gimmick: I'm a country boy. I read the sophomoric lyrics and knew what they were doing. There was one good part. They got the guy who played the fiddle in Deliverance to do my music, so I went in and did my thing.
Chapman: I remember hearing the record and it's got fiddle and a jew's harp, some New Yorker's idea of what country music sounds like: "It's hillbilly, so we gotta have fiddles!"
In her memoir, Chapman said Pomus told her, "It sounds real stoo-pid. We'll probably make a shitload of money."
Hillbilly Jim: After years went by, I realized "Don't Go Messin' with a Country Boy" is in the wrong chord for me. I think it was a low G, it should have been a D. It ended up being a cool little novelty song, though. Back then, the idea was to make every wrestler different. Today, it's all smoke bombs, firecrackers, and exploding ring entrances. They all look the same. We had individual identifiable ring music. Soon as the crowds heard the jumpy-dandy fiddle, they knew Hillbilly Jim was coming. People would go bananas.
Chapman: It's the only song I ever wrote specifically to be recorded by someone besides myself. I've written songs that had been covered by artists like Jimmy Buffet, Tanya Tucker, and Emmylou Harris—and Jimmy and I co-wrote some songs in Key West—but they were all originally written for me. "Don't Go Messin' with a Country Boy" is the lone exception in forty-some-odd years in music. I figured the whole thing was here today, gone tomorrow. If a project ever had flash-in-the-pan written all over it. Wouldn't you know it? The Wrestling Album was a blockbuster.
Wolff: You're telling me thirty years later, it's still Hillbilly Jim's theme song? Makes me feel so good.
Hillbilly Jim: A few weeks ago, I was asked to manage a couple of wrestlers at a match in West Virginia. After they won, they put on my song. I got into the ring and do-si-do'd with them and the referee. I whispered for the wrestlers to go get a couple of kids and bring them into the ring. We got them dancing and everyone lost it. "Don't Go Messin' with a Country Boy" is an absolute can't-miss. It gets over on the audience every single damn time.
The Billboard Singles book doesn't list any tracks off The Wrestling Album hitting the Top 100. It did, however, provide the WWF with a signature mid-80s song, "Land of 1,000 Dances," with an all-hands video that devolved into, well, pandemonium.
Edd Griles (video director, "Land of 1,000 Dances"; creator, MTV Video Music Awards): I worked with Cyndi Lauper for a long time, going back to her band Blue Angel. I directed the videos for "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," "She Bop," and "Time After Time." I had my own connection to wrestling apart from that. I spent six months trying to get Vince McMahon to work on a movie with me. He finally agreed and we went to all the major Hollywood studios trying to get them to do a wrestling film. We tried for a couple years. It wasn't happening, but it was another project we explored in the madness.
Wolff: For the album, I got clearance to rewrite the verses on "Land of 1,000 Dances." I wrote all the lines and prearranged wrestlers to record backstage at a match. We curtained off a studio and I brought them in one at a time to sing. This was the track that called for a video.
Griles: The Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection just kept going and going. I ended up helping out with various kayfabes, which are staged wrestling events portrayed as real or true, so I was around all the craziness. Wolff asked me to direct the video. "Land of 1,000 Dances" took a long time to put together, a month at least. It was shot in Poughkeepsie, at an arena where I believe there was a WWF card the following night. It was a lot of work on the day of the shoot. We had the morning and afternoon to set up wrestler close-ups and stuff like that before bringing in the live audience that night for the shoot. The way the "Land of 1,000 Dances" video was supposed to unfold was an idea that would work one time. After that, the audience would know what was coming. We shot it once. And it played.
Volkoff: They forgot to advertise for a live audience. A couple hours before the shoot, they sent me and Meat Loaf, who was drummer in the video, to a radio station to tell people to show up. We did good. It sold out.
Wolff: Piper was my go-to guy, so I knew he would be the one to bust it all up at the end. I always made him the center of attention. When the fight broke out, Mean Gene got pulled under the curtain, and you can tell by the audience reaction shots that they were thrown for a loop. The whole thing was just fucking tremendous.
Griles: When you have fifty heels and fifty babyfaces, you're going to get a reaction. All the WWF guys did whatever they wanted to do. We let them decide. Not a surprise, but they totally got into the brawl. We had four or five cameras going so we could do all those quick cuts. When the melee kicked off, the crew got their heads bashed in. The wrestlers didn't care who was in front of them. I was backstage, so I was OK. Dave took a beating. He dug it, I'm sure.
Volkoff: Cyndi Lauper is in the video, but she has wig on while playing guitar. At the end, we have big smash, everybody fights everybody. She was swinging her guitar and a sharp edge accidentally scratched my leg. It started bleeding terribly. I said, "Cyndi, you don't like me too much? Look what you did to my leg." She almost fainted. I felt so bad. Wiped the blood off with my hand, "Look, it's fine." I admire her so much, I never forget that.
Hillbilly Jim: All the guys got together and we had some fun. It looked like horseshit while it was being filmed, but they made it work. I suppose.
Griles: I do have one odd memory from the video shoot. Ed Leslie, who everyone knows as Brutus Beefcake, came up to me and said, "My name is Eddie, too." I don't know if that was suppose to make us friends or what, but he found that really interesting.
"As singers, they're pretty good wrestlers." Billboard's snide review, on November 8, 1985, deserved the Camel Clutch, but the people behind The Wrestling Album had the last laugh. The release was pre-SoundScan, so official sales aren't known, but everyone in the know believes it's north of 400,000. Whatever the number, the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection kept on thriving through WrestleMania, Saturday Night's Main Event, the Slammys, and a constant stream of matches beloved by Real Americans everywhere.
Wolff: I came up with idea for the Slammys, the first ever award show for a single record. I won for the "Best Executive Producer on The Wrestling Album." I was the only one nominated in the category. I'm looking at my Slammy right now.
Petze: When Cyndi won the Grammy for Best New Artist, Hulk Hogan walked her out on stage. We asked him to pretend he was her bodyguard. It was cool. We became good friends with a lot of those guys. We all spent a New Year's Eve together, had an intimate dinner at a friend's house with Cyndi, Dave, Captain Lou, Classy Freddie Blassie, myself, and our wives. We all loved each other's company. When I got the call from Steven Spielberg's office for Lauper to do the Goonies theme song, the first question we asked ourselves was: How can we get these WWF people involved? The "Goonies 'R' Good Enough" wasn't a big hit, but Cyndi and the wrestlers are so visual that the video was perfect for MTV back then. Funny thing is the movie became a cult classic and that record still sells today.
Brawoler: All the guys came together at the Hit Factory studio for the photo shoot. It was incredible, just wall-to-wall real live cartoon characters. But I heard Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake choreographing that night's match. I knew it wasn't really real, but man did my bubble burst. It was entertainment sure, but listening to them plan it out totally fucked up the mystical, magical quality wrestling held for me.
Volkoff: The album is good because everyone who made it had a lot of energy and happiness. You know how much easier it is to make something special when you're happy?
Pickett: We've had plenty of wrestlers on Saturday Night Live over the years and most have been great. They're already performance artists, doing a kind of physical quasi-humor, and they stay in character or else ruin they'd ruin the joke. In the early 80s, the synergy between MTV and WWF, with their similar imagery and outlandish personalities, made for a perfect match. Why wouldn't you make The Wrestling Album?
Petze: Our attitude was 'Let's have a blast and if we sell records, great.' And then we did. A lot of them. Vince McMahon was supportive from the get-go. I'm not sure the marketing people at Sony knew what to do with The Wrestling Album. He was a big help in that department. We promoted it on the WWF shows every Saturday, lots of cross-merchandising. Record stores loved it because it brought in young male buyers who weren't necessarily music kids.
Hillbilly Jim: I don't have a lot of memorabilia up. My house isn't a shrine, but I do have my two framed albums hung up on my wall. The Wrestling Album went gold in Canada.
The Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection tried to follow up on The Wrestling Album's success in 1987 with Piledriver.
Wolff: The second album was fun to make, but my relationship with Vince was deteriorating and it doesn't have the same warmth and charm. The Wrestling Album is the special one. Everybody delivered with monstrous enthusiasm. I don't even own a copy of Piledriver.
Thirty years later, nostalgia for 1980s WWF shows no signs of abating. Epic even released a limited-edition set of The Wrestling Album and Piledriver for Record Store Day. Fond memories of the whole Rock 'n' Wrestling saga would be enough to warm the heart of even Roddy Piper, if only he was still around to enjoy its legacy. Piper, like so many of his peers featured on the album, struggled with his health until his premature death, earlier this year.
Wolff: It's sad what happened to so many of the guys. Life on the road is tough. It's easy to get caught up in drinking and doing drugs to maintain. And then you factor in steroids, which are an unfortunate but very very dangerous reality of the business. Wrestlers believe steroids make them immortal while, ultimately, it's killing them.
Hillbilly Jim: Us WWF guys weren't all close or anything, but it was like being in the Hell's Angels, a strange fucked-up weird fraternity. We had license to act like Vikings, the world was our Magic Kingdom. Back then, celebrities got away with everything, so guys would do things that today would land them in prison. The cops would show up and ask for our autographs. We'd wake up and "Did you hear what so-and-so did in the bar last night?" And it would be funnier than hell... It was truly remarkable.
Chapman: I've called The Wrestling Album the most dubious cultural achievement of the 20th century, but I'm also probably the only Nashville songwriter who has ever received a royalty check from the WWF.
Brawoler: The Wrestling Album isn't artful, but it is a snapshot of a moment. The 80s were a funny time both sonically and stylistically. The record features the best equipment that was available... It wouldn't have been my choice to use quite so much synthesizer.
Volkoff: Everything work very good. I still have my Slammy Award—it's a beautiful expensive cast-iron trophy. I won for "Best Song." Vince called it "ignominious."
Griles: The mingling of rock music and professional wrestling worked, but personally I think Cyndi got involved too deeply and spent too much time on it. Stardom was where she was already headed. At that time, she and Madonna were neck-and-neck for biggest female singer in the world. Her talent alone would have carried the day.
Hillbilly Jim: Our group of guys got woven into the fabric of American society. There's been guys who've come along since that have been big for a spell but are then forgotten. Myself, Andre, Piper, Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy, J.Y.D., you know the names... People remember us. I still get asked to do appearances, autograph sessions, all kinds of stuff, even though I have been out of full-time wrestling much longer than I was in it. Rock 'n' Wrestling will outlive us all.
Chapman: I didn't realize what a force of nature of Jim is. I took it literally that he was just some dumb-ass hillbilly, a redneck boob, but he's a great guy with a personality as big as he is. We've become good friends. Whenever I run into him at his radio show, we always have a big laugh about the whole silly thing. I love him. "Don't Go Messin' with a Country Boy" was the strangest gig in my songwriting career. It's pretty dorky, but I befriended Hillbilly Jim, and got to write with the legendary Doc Pomus, so I'm proud to have my name on it.
Petze: Over the last few years, I've been interviewed for a number of retrospectives. No matter what the topic, they inevitably ask, "You were involved in The Wrestling Album?" That, and the Don Johnson record Heartbeat. Nobody ever asks about Jeff Beck.
Wolff: I'll read things about what went down every now and again, but nobody gets the real story right. The wrestling powers take all the credit. It's comical, but I have only fond memories of my years involved with the WWF. Making The Wrestling Album is something I will always cherish. I'm blown away fans still care.
Finally, this story ends, as all good WWF stories should, by adding to the legend of Andre the Giant.
Wolff: I got to know [Andre] a bit while making the Goonies videos. We were shooting one day, and afterward we went to get dinner together. He said he wanted some wine. He pointed to a gallon mug of white wine and said, "Bring that over here." I said, "The whole thing?" "Yeah, I'm pretty thirsty." He chugged it in seconds flat. Didn't even phase him, he went right back to eating. I didn't say anything.
Petze: I live in New England and there was a restaurant we used to go to that had all-you-can-eat lobster. They had a picture of Andre at the front door. He ate 32 lobsters.
Hillbilly Jim: One Christmas, I had a show with Andre in Miami. We did six-man matches for a little while with myself, Andre, and Captain Lou going against Bundy, Studd, and their manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. Amazing match, but outside the arena it's warm and sunny, kind of a bummer because there's no country holiday scene whatsoever. It's old men with cigars puttering around in shorts and socks. The next day, we took the show to Dayton, Ohio. Andre and I get on the plane, and of course we take up the whole damn thing because we're so big. From the time the nose went up until the time they cut us off, he and I drank 56 bottles of alcohol on a two-hour flight. I drank eight. I was bombed. We started with vodka, then rum, whiskeys, on to gin or whatever. All the bottles, even the little wines, were gone. They had nothing left. The captain came out, saw Andre, turned right around, and went back into the cockpit. I was feeling a little down about Christmas. For him, it was just another day.
Andre the Giant was hard to fathom in human terms.