Friday, April 15, 2016
Goodbye to Merle and Mulligan
Country star Merle Haggard passed at 79 on his birthday last week.
Haggard,who was once told by Johnny Cash that "you are the man everyone thinks I am" had 38 number one hits from the 1960's through the 1980's and was best known for his songs that reverbed with the common man during that time period such as "Okie from Muskogee" and "Fightin' Side of Me".
I liked those songs of Haggard,who had served time in prison for attempted robbery (later fully pardoned by then California Governor Ronald Reagan,but Haggard could do more than right wing tunes.
Haggard could sing ballads such as "Carolyn" or honkytonkers like "Rainbow Stew",but of all of Hag's hits,my favorite was this-"I take a lot of pride in what I am".
The song was later covered by Dean Martin (another TRS favorite),but I prefer the Haggard version.
It speaks to hard working people everywhere and tells us all that having pride and dignity is about far more than possessions and money.
Haggard's catalog might not be quite as well known today as it was in past years,but if you are a fan of older country music,Merle Haggard's music is quite difficult to beat...
The other loss was of pro wrestling star Blackjack Mulligan,a worldwide star and father of Barry Windham at the age of 73.
Mulligan,who was a star as both a heel and "babyface" made his biggest claim to fame in the Mid-Atlantic territory on both sides of the fence,but made his biggest impression on me as a giant heel in the old WWF managed by Fred Blassie.
Mulligan went around the circuit with title matches against then champion Bob Backlund as well as many "battle of the giants" against Andre The Giant.
Mulligan drew huge money in the Mid-Atlantic against Ric Flair and the Masked Superstar among others.but outside that promotion was best known for wrestling Andre,Bruiser Brody and John Studd as there were few that could match the size of Mulligan (listed as 6'8,but more likely around 6'5).the
Mulligan also started his run through the 70's as part of the tag team of the Blackjacks as Mulligan adapted the cowboy gimmick of partner Blackjack Lanza.
One of many that used the "claw" as a finishing move,Mulligan's WWF run was most noted for using the claw to win TV matches against the no-hopers,which would be "censored with a huge X across the screen as it gave the illusion that Mulligan was squeezing so hard that "it was just too bloody to show on television" and therefore really get the claw "over" as such a huge finisher.
Mulligan would later return to the WWF as a good guy and host of "Mulligan's Barbeque" as the antithesis of Roddy Piper's Pit.
I hope to be back later with another overdue column..