Jimmy Hart on Getting His Start in WWE, How Vince McMahon8217s Dreams Have Helped Wrestling

– WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy Hart recently appeared as a keynote speaker at a business function emceed by VOC Nation founder Bruce Wirt. During the event, Hart took part in a Q&A session and spoke about his music career, getting started in wrestling, working in WWE, his thoughts on Vince McMahon, and more. Below are some highlights and audio provided by VOC Nation:

On getting started in music: I was born in Jackson, Mississippi. My mother and I moved to Memphis, TN when I was about 12 years old; she raised me basically, and we had a good little run down there. I started my music career down there, I was part of a group called the Gentrys. You can look it up on YouTube, we have a million seller recordit was called Keep on Dancing; we did all the tours with the Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, and Steppenwolf and so many of those groups back in the 60s. We did Hullabaloo, Shindig, American Bandstand, we did all the Dick Clark stuff with him.

Jimmy Hart on working with Andy Kaufman for the Jerry Lawler feud: One day when I got off one of our tours after about a six year tour with the Gentrys a guy by the name of Jerry the King Lawler (reached out to me). Jerry Lawler was a famous wrestler back in Memphis, TN back in the day, and of course later on he went to be with the WWE and did commentating with JR. We kind of hooked up together and I helped him on a wrestling album, and we became really, really good friends back then. We had a great run, we did all the stuff with the late, great Andy Kaufman I managed Andy Kaufman for a couple of years when he was in Memphisit was such a great thrill for me to be with Andy back in the day because who knew where this was going to take any of us back in the day. But finally Jerry Lawler and Andy wind up on David Lettermans show, and thats where you had the slap heard around the world back then. It hit breaking news all over the world.

Hart on joining WWE: I was (in Memphis) for about six years and all of the sudden I got a phone call from New York City. A guy named Howard Finkel, who was a great wrestling emcee up there, commentator, (and) ring announcer. (He was) looking at some tapes one day and he saw these tapes of a guy named Jimmy Hart down in Memphis, TN. So he it to Vince (McMahon); Vince saw the tapes and he brought me into New York. When I went to New York I was on the very first Wrestlemania Wrestlemania 3 was great, but Wrestlemania 1 was the most important one because if that had not been successful I would not be sitting here talking to you guys now.

Jimmy Hart on working with David Wolff for the early wrestling music albums: Its so funny about the wrestling business and the music business. It seemed like everybody in wrestling wanted to be in music (and) everybody in music wanted to be in wrestling. When I first went to New York to appear on the first Wrestlemania, I got a chance to meet a guy named Dave Wolff. Dave Wolff was the manager of Cyndi Lauper back then. So Dave Wolff was going to cut a wrestling albumwe wrote a few songs for our first wrestling album, and that led to a second wrestling album, and we kind of got into the clique of the rock and wrestling situation that was happening in New York back at that time. Its kind of funny how (my) career started in music, went to wrestling, and wound up back in music and wrestling again.

On working with Rick Derringer: Rick Derringer played guitar on all the stuff that we did (on the first album) that I think we cut at the hit factory in New York. Then on our second album, Rick was really a major part. I had written three songs for that: One for the Demolition that Rick sang and played on, one called crank it up, and then the Honky Tonk Mans (theme) he played on that one for me. We had a good run with the musicDave Wolff opened a lot of doors for us with that album.

Hart on attending the funeral of Elvis Presley: George Klein, since they were best buddies, got me up to the front of the line maybe the 25th or 26th person to go see Elvis and I remember seeing him in the casket. I remember his hands were folded (and) he had a beautiful ring on that said TCB Taking Care of Business and I tried to keep that thought in my head the whole time I walked around the whole thing.

His thoughts on Vince McMahon: If it wasnt for Vince and his dreams, and him making all this come true, thered be a lot of wrestlers that wouldnt be wrestling anymore and a lot of guys wouldnt have their homes, their cars, their kids being able to go to college and everything. Kudos to him, hes been unbelievable.

Hart on working WrestleMania 3: I was really thrilled about it because I had three matches on that card. I had the match with the Honky Tonk Man against Jake Roberts, and in Jakes corner there was Alice Cooper then we had the Hart Foundation with Danny Davis the referee against the British Bulldogs and Tito Santana, and then last but not least we had Adrian Adonis against Rowdy Roddy Piper in a hair versus career match. And so I had three big matches on that. I was a nervous wreck just trying to remember everything I was going to doI changed jackets on every match too and two of them were back to back, so I was kind of like Houdini on that. But to have 93,000 plus people outdoors (with) no social media back thenit was an undertaking that Vince had a dream for and it came through.


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