Throughout the history of professional wrestling, a number of people were responsible for contributing to the entertainment side of things. Gorgeous George, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, and The Rock are only a few names that are considered game changers in the business in that regard, but even something that most people don’t actively think about like entrance music started somewhere. In this case, it started with the latest additions to the WWE Hall of Fame, the Fabulous Freebirds.
Rolling Stone was the first to break the news that Michael “P.S.” Hayes, Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy, Buddy “Jack” Roberts, and Jimmy “Jam” Garvin would be joining Sting and The Godfather as part of the 2016 HOF class. Upon making the announcement, the site spoke to Hayes, the last surviving member of the group, who joked that this honor has been a long time coming:
“Every year around this time, I’d be on pins and needles, hoping we’d get in, because our career speaks for itself. We put asses in seats…and I think you could take a poll of anybody who ever paid their hard-earned money to come see us, and they’d say they got more than their money’s worth. And that was huge to us, because we were wrestling fans too.”
Regarding the use of music during their entrance, Hayes shared that the idea sprung up after seeing overlap between fans of wrestling and rock music. Though some were initially hesitant to allow it, it turns out that the Freebirds were the ones to introduce such an integral part of the business in terms of character building that is still going strong today:
“Terry and I were just brash, smart-ass, let’s-go-do-it teenagers, riding up and down the road listening to [Lynyrd] Skynyrd I’d notice when I went to wrestling matches or rock concerts, I would see the same people at both. There was a crossover there, but the people that were in charge of wrestling at the time, they didn’t see it.
I always wanted to be an entertainer, and Terry always wanted to be a wrestler, so the Freebirds were a way of doing both. We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to come out to music?’ It took a lot of convincing, but finally, Jerry Jarrett bought in, and so we debuted it in 1979 at the Mid-South Coliseum. ‘Free Bird’ hit, and the whole audience was in awe.”
Not only were the residents of Badstreet USA game changers in the entertainment aspect of wrestling, but they also revolutionized tag team wrestling through their career-defining feud with the Von Erichs in the southern territories and the creation of the Freebird Rule, which allows any two members of a group to defend tag team titles on any given night. The rule is still alive and well in the WWE today thanks to the current WWE Tag Team Champions, The New Day.
Ahead of the 2016 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony on April 2nd in Dallas, we’re sure to hear much more about the contributions and careers of the Fabulous Freebirds, so for now let’s just revel in the fact that they are finally taking their rightful place alongside the other immortal legends of this industry. And let us know your favorite Freebird moments in the comments below!