Late-great wrestling manager Gary Hart once wrote about the time Dusty Rhodes showcased a talent unbeknownst to some – singing! There’s just something about Dusty singin’ and dancin’ with Bob Armstrong, Jerry Brisco, and Don Muraco that brings a smile to our face.
Gary Hart Autobiography – Rich in Wrestling History, But at a Price
If you are looking for the finest book ever written on professional wrestling, an autobiography that holds nothing back and comes from one of the greatest minds ever to step foot inside the squared circle, then the book by "Playboy" Gary Hart entitled My Life In Wrestling…With A Little Help From My Friends might be the one for you. The book clocks in at just over 400 pages using small text and hosts a wealth of knowledge of professional wrestling’s inner workings, from the booking of matches to the pairing of wrestlers, assigning managers to talent, to running territories, and much, much more.
The only obstacle preventing you from reading this book by Gary Hart is the steep price tag that comes with it as it is currently out of print. Most online retailers have it going for no less than $1200, making it quite challenging to get your hands on.
From time to time, Gary Hart’s book shows up on eBay, but users are lucky to snatch it up for anything less than $400. Despite many efforts, the book has yet to be republished. Still, fear not, Pro Wrestling Stories is here to give you a glimpse inside Gary Hart’s book that many in and outside of the business revere as the most in-depth book you will ever read on professional wrestling.
"Gary Hart takes you behind the scenes of pro wrestling during his time in the business from the 1960s through the mid-1990s, then has a final chapter giving his opinion on the state of pro wrestling today. You learn so much about what it takes to book and produce a wrestling show, how to manage your talent, and more importantly, you learn how a man can enter a business filled with locker room politicians and backstabbers and never compromise his morals or who he is as a character. Gary Hart’s humanity is what makes this such a great read, he never goes out of his way to bury anyone, and the few people he does have harsh words for, he states his case clearly for why he believes his opinion on them to be justified. Vince McMahon should require every member of his current writing team, along with all of his agents, producers, and wrestlers to read this book."
Dusty Rhodes and His Side Hustle Business
In this sought after autobiography, Gary Hart shares the stories of The American Dream’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival, as well as a t-shirt hawking side business he had with Dusty Rhodes:
"During the summer of 1974, Dusty Rhodes and I went into the T-shirt business together. Yes, we were in the midst of a heated feud throughout the state of Florida – but in reality – we were very tight. We invested $250 apiece and printed up "Dusty Rhodes" T-shirts. Dusty then sold them out of the back of his white 1972 El Dorado. It had stars and stripes down the sides, and across the front, it said, "The American Dream." It was very noticeable, and when he pulled up at an arena, people would rush his car to meet him. Then, when he would open his trunk, people would see the T-shirts and ask if they could buy one. He would tell them to speak to some friend of his and leave him there to sell every single one. We printed up these T-shirts in secret because wrestlers weren’t allowed to sell concessions, and over a period of six weeks – before Eddie Graham caught on and made us stop – Dusty and I made $2,500 selling shirts out of the back of his trunk!
“That’s when Dusty and I decided to go into the concert promoting business. We would take the $2,500 that we made on our T-shirt venture and invest it in a rock concert at the Fort Hesterly Armory featuring Dusty Rhodes. I tried to talk him into booking Bobby "Blue" Bland for $1,000 because that would leave us $1,500 to rent the arena and promote the concert. However, Dusty took an affront to that and made it clear that he didn’t need Bobby "Blue" Bland to "support" him – he wanted to headline the concert on his own!
"My idea was to have Bobby headline the show and just have Dusty come out as a guest for a couple of songs! Somehow, Dusty assumed I was suggesting Bobby "Blue" Bland play backup for Dusty Rhodes! After nixing Bobby’s involvement, Dusty insisted that we promote "The American Dream’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival," and I figured that just might work. "The American Dream" was huge in Tampa – and Dusty always loved to sing. He and Dick Murdoch would go out, have a few beers, and get up and sing at the bars in Tampa on a pretty regular basis. In fact, a young kid named Terry Bollea used to play bass in local Tampa bands at the time used to play bass in local Tampa bands at the time, and he backed up Dusty and Dick on more than one occasion. Terry Bollea grew up to be, of course, Hulk Hogan.
“Dusty and I booked the show for Sunday night, October 6, 1974, and set about putting together a backing band for him. We budgeted $500 for the musicians – and they were pretty good. Dusty then recruited Bob Armstrong, Mike Graham, Jerry Brisco, Don Muraco, and Steve Keirn – dubbed The Outlaws – to be his backup singers. Unfortunately, they couldn’t sing or dance – but they never claimed they could. Dusty and I worked up a pretty good setlist, with songs like "Workin’ at the Car Wash Blues" by Jim Croce, "Okie From Muskogee" by Merle Haggard, "Long, Black Limousine," by Elvis Presley, and songs by David Allen Coe and Waylon Jennings thrown in for good measure. We advertised the concert in newspapers and posters around town – and hoped that "The American Dream" could pack ’em in.
“I couldn’t be at the concert that night because Dusty and I were feuding. So at 8:30 p.m. – thirty minutes after the concert started – I told my wife I was going to drive by the Fort Hesterly Armory, take a look at the parking lot, and get a sense of the turnout. Imagine my surprise when I saw there were about one-hundred-and-twenty cars in the parking lot! At that point, I realized that either we didn’t do a very good job of promoting the concert, or nobody cared about hearing Dusty sing. I spoke to Dusty after the concert, and he blamed the poor turnout on the office, reasoning that if they had allowed us to promote it on the TV show – we would have had a sellout. Dusty wasn’t upset, though, and had a great time that night – and I guess that was the most important thing. In fact – for all you hardcore collectors out there – there’s a videotape of that concert floating around out there somewhere featuring Dusty Rhodes up there singing and dancing."
Unfortunately, we have not been able to track down footage of this performance. However, here’s a video of Dusty singing ‘Dusty B. Good’ in 1989 for good measure!
Dusty Rhodes Singing His Version of Johnny B Goode entitled ‘Dusty B Good’:
Former manager and wrestler Gary Hart died on March 16, 2008, following a heart attack at his home in Euless, Texas, after returning from an autograph session in Pennsylvania. On April 5, 2008, Peach State Pandemonium, an internet wrestling program, aired a two-hour tribute program in Hart’s memory.
If you enjoyed this piece, be sure not to miss the following articles on our site:
- Dusty Rhodes – Stories to Celebrate the Life of the Icon
- Tully Blanchard and the Time He Was Almost Murdered by Dusty Rhodes
- Gary Hart on Dick Murdock and Dusty Rhodes – The Texas Outlaws
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