May 14, 2009
Singing new rush for Pat PattersonDebut album out on CD for famed wrestler
By MIKE LANO - SLAM! Wrestling
NEWARK, Calif. -- Wrestling legend and WWE creative genius Pat Patterson recently released his first CD of music entitled My Second Dream and the first global chance fans had at it was the 12th annual Big Time Wrestling Wrestlefest this past weekend.
It's actually very good, with great production values, and a tight hired band that Patterson hired to play. I think it belongs in everyone's collection.
On Saturday, May 9th, Pat also sang live to the crowd of over 750 fans. With The Wonder of You. Patterson sounded every bit as great as Elvis Presley as he sang over his CED recording. Many remarked, as they did at Cauliflower Alley Club in 2007 and 2008, that he doesn't just have the pipes, but also the mannerisms and polish of a professional singer. Patterson gestures, sings to various audience members he singles out, and really moves around.
It is truly a revelation to his wrestling family that he could sing, imitating Louie "Satchmo" Armstrong perfectly, singing his What A Wonderful World classic. Patterson can not only imitate others, but also sing a song well just as himself. Some of the tunes on this CD are: The Wonder of You, Make the World Go Away (Eddie Arnold's biggest hit), Put Your Head On My Shoulder, Quando Quando, World, I Can't Help Falling In Love, and his most requested number, Frank Sinatra's My Way. It's available through Progressive Media and Music, Tampa, Florida.
"I call this album and basically my life now, My Second Dream, because that's what this is. This is how I'm enjoying life," Patterson told SLAM! Wrestling. "I live my life to the fullest every day. I have fun and if I'm not having fun, I go somewhere else and make my own fun. My first dream was, and I'm stealing this name gimmick from Dusty, but my first love was the wrestling business and performing in it. And I had such a wonderful time entertaining the people all those many years; despite the riots and the danger. Well, that was when I was a heel. But once a performer, always a performer. I'd been off TV, but now here I have a chance, if I'm decent, to entertain people all over again in a completely different field of endeavor no one knows me for!"
At the Newark-Fremont Hilton, the site of the Big Time Wrestling event, the convention's host, Bill Apter, pointed out an Elvis impersonator sitting on a couch, ready to go into the restaurant later to entertain at a Filipino wedding reception that was raucous with lots of color and fun. Naturally, I posed Patterson with him for my camera, since Elvis was one of Pat's music idols. Patterson then sat in the bar with more recent stars Justin Credible and Spike Dudley, watching and listening to the guy doing his impression on a poor audio/mike system. I dared Pat to "go in and show him how it's done!" He actually got up from his chair, and waltzed into the room, but stopped short of hitting the stage -- perhaps figuring he might start one of his famous '60s riots.
Discussion of fan ire brought back a lot of memories for the Montreal native (born Pierre Clemont), who became a huge star in the 1960s in San Francisco, and the 1970s in the AWA and WWWF.
"Working in the San Francisco Bay Area all those years as a heel for [promoter Roy] Shire was dangerous. I was glad to turn babyface," he confessed. "Any time I might've gotten the advantage or at worst, beaten Peter Maivia, the Samoan fans would encircle the ring. Once Ray [Stevens] and I had a tag match with him and [Pepper] Gomez at the Cow Palace and it was the first and last time George 'Two Ton' Harris was brought in by Shire to be my very first manager."
For someone who had already cut such a reputation, both in the ring as a performer and as a character, why was Harris brought in as a second to Patterson? "Roy just wanted to do something different, and try to book his first manager in the territory. This was before Haru Sasaki and Gary [Gearhardt] Kaiser, who were basically the only managers Roy ever used in the late '60s and '70s along with Ken Ramey" who managed Paul DeMarco, Billy Graham, Interns, Von Brauners and Von Steigers.
Patterson picked up the story -- and he's a great storyteller. "Harris got it from the fans who surrounded the ring. I yelled at him to come help us. No way was he coming close but I think some of the fans popped him. I yelled at Shire to come help us, but he was afraid to get into the middle of it too, standing way back on the sidelines. Somehow Ray got out after I distracted the fans who hated us and were gunning for us. I watched him walk with the cops who couldn't even stop the fans, watching that blond head bopping towards the back, and then that head of blond hair went down! "I shouted, 'They got Ray! they got Ray!' But then I saw his blond head pop back up so he'd only leaned down. Somehow I put up my fists and was able to run down the aisle and to the back. I then fell on the floor on my back and looked up in disbelief. 'How did I get out of that mess without getting killed?' I asked myself. I couldn't believe I got out of there alive.
"That was Harris' first and last time as a manager for us. This happened several other times; and as many cops as we had, couldn't really stop the riots. The Samoan fans in particular. They were hot and sometimes I dreaded working with Peter as a result of it. Very dangerous, but at least I was proud I'd done something to move the people to real emotion."
Patterson puts a lot of emotion into his singing as well.
"The neatest thing is when I sing at a karaoke bar somewhere like in small town in Florida where I live, or anywhere in Europe, or on a cruise line where most -- if not everyone -- has no clue who I am or that I was a famous wrestler. Then I know if I'm good if they react. So far I've been lucky -- the people stand on their feet and cheer. Just like when I was in the business."
"Pretty Boy" Patterson believes he may have set a record for cruises in 2008, going on five different ones, touring all over Europe.
"Before one of them, I flew to Rome and spent over a week there, just walking every day and looking at everything. Taking this gorgeous city in," Patterson said. "I'd walk around the Colosseum at night and behind it way on the other side from the hotel I was staying at, was this little bitty restaurant-like bar. They were doing karaoke in there one night but all the songs listed were in Italian, except one. And it turned out to be my favorite song to sing, My Way by Frank Sinatra. I started singing it and the people, they all stood up, some with tears in their eyes, applauding and cheering and whistling. They went nuts when I sang that song for those people. It really was a dream come true, a lot of fun. And nobody knew me from wrestling in there like on some of the cruise ships where I sing too. So it's a great feeling, they let you know right away if they hate or like what you're doing to try to entertain them."
He's had some wonderful experiences while afloat as well.
"I was doing my singing during karaoke on a cruise ship at sea, and this young kid came up and asked if I'd come and sing his wife's favorite song to her right before he proposed to her -- but right in the main dining room with thousands and thousands of people. He said they'd listened to me singing at night on the ship and that she really liked my singing. But I said I'd have to ask the ship's purser because there wasn't singing in the dining room where he wanted to propose to her. I did my number in a rehearsal for this ship employee who gave his okay. When it came time, she had tears in her eyes when I sang, then even bigger ones when he proposed. That was another of life's highlights for me. I've done it in front of some of the boys before this year, and they enjoyed it. I get a good reaction whether I do it in front of my wrestling family like her, or WWE; or in front of people who don't know me from Adam. That's my second dream -- find something you like to do when you retire, and you'll have a great time and live longer!"
For one, he's as busy as he can be playing golf regularly, traveling. But Vince McMahon still regularly calls up to utilize one of the best minds in wrestling history. Patterson's genius at booking, and, in particular, finishes for matches, has been praised for more than 20 years.
But he only works for WWE now "on my schedule."
"Sometimes there are times when Vince calls up and says, 'I need to you come help this show or that with the finishes.' Or, 'I need you to go on this tour of a foreign country and work as an agent, helping out please.' When he asks, I try to help. And he likes my singing too!"
Patterson calls the Tampa area home. "I live at a housing complex set on a beautiful golf course. Restaurants, gyms, shopping, it has everything," he said, adding that not everything is perfect in his life. "I'd quit smoking for the first time, and felt healthy and good for six months. Then Vince asked me to be an agent and accompany the boys on a rough tour overseas and, unfortunately for me, the smoking began. I wish I could quit, it's very tough. Over the years, Vince has always tried to get me to stop smoking."
Despite singing "old" songs, Patterson still behaves like one of the boys, if not the youngest in mind and spirit. He plays ribs, jokes, is fully aware of twittering and pop culture like The Hills, TMZ and more. He blends in comfortably with all the boys -- and girls -- of today.
Hanging out with Spike Dudley allowed Patterson to learn more about a former co-worker. "You know when he worked for us [in the WWF], I never got to spend any time talking with or getting to know [him]," Patterson said. "We finally got the chance to talk and I had no idea he trained and started right here in the Bay Area. He's a great kid, him and Pete (Justin Credible)." Patterson also had a lot of praise for TNA's O.D.B. who he thought really did creative stuff and "has a fully developed character. I've seen it all so when someone can show me something I've never seen before, I'm impressed."
Ever the prankster, Patterson recalled a chance to rib old friend Red Bastien at an LIWA conventions in Las Vegas in the '90s. "De-pantsing Red Bastien right in front of those dignified Japanese ladies (Bull Nakano, Akira Hokuto and their parents) well, maybe I went too far with that one. I had no idea when he was at the microphone in front of them that he didn't have any underpants on! They were not too pleased."
Here it is 2009, and the crowds are still going wild for Pat Patterson.
"I don't know where I'll go with this, but I'm having the time of my life now," he concluded. "I really love it and love life more than ever. I'm only 68!"
Dr. Mike Lano has been covering pro wrestling globally since 1966 as a reporter/historian/photographer and is at firstname.lastname@example.org.