Thursday, July 18, 2013
Badstreet USA & The Magic Of Freebird Fantasia
Michael Hayes. Terry Gordy. Buddy Roberts. Three wrestlers that came together at the right time to, most memorably, become the arch enemies of the white-bread, squeaky-clean, Von Erich boys. They were a hard drinking gang of southern boys that dished out some beatings, took many in return, and proved to be exactly what World Class Championship Wrestling needed. Each member had individual tools that brought something different to the table and therefore the group simply gelled. From a marketing standpoint, it was the charisma and personality of Hayes that made the team one of the most merchandised of the era.
Everyone has a different opinion on who exactly was the first wrestler to use theme music, but Michael "P.S." Hayes may have been the first to sing his own. Hayes certainly looked like a rock star, and through his wrestling career was able to become one. After years of using Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird," Hayes and Jimmy Papa composed a brand new entrance for the team in 1983. Thirty years later, "Badstreet USA" is still one of the most popular and memorable wrestling themes of all-time. A music video was even produced for the song starring the Freebirds as well as their frequent ally (and later Freebird himself) "Gorgeous" Jimmy Garvin.
With the anti-hero style popularity of Hayes and the gang, it's hard to believe that any record company wouldn't have wanted to capitalize. WCCW wasn't exactly regional at this point, and with the Von Erich-Freebird wars seen by millions in syndication surely the album would've done well. Nevertheless, the craze of the time was captured one day at a mall in Irving, Texas, also the home of Grand Theft Records. Recognizing the hysteria of young Texans revolving around World Class, the wise manager of Irving's Camelot Music store had an idea.
With a turnout of around seven hundred screaming fans, the signing was ultimately a success. The pictures of this appearance shown here have never before been viewed by the public. Hayes is shown signing away, but seeing as that this was the golden era of WCCW wrestling, the Freebird probably also kept up an image suitable for a heel at the time. It looks as if posters advertising the single were signed in addition to the aforementioned 45's. Are these hundreds of autographed items stashed away in attics across The Lone Star State? Fortunately, the store manager decided to recently part with her own keepsake of the event (a framed display of the photos shown here and signed 45) which is why I'm able to share these here for all to enjoy.