Professional wrestling’s most notorious novelty record by one of its most enduring stars.
‘Classy’ Freddie Blassie was arguably the most famous American wrestler from the days before it became a television staple and entertainment phenomenon, starting his career with bouts as a teenager in 1935 and continuing until 1974 when legal rules about the maximum age to own a wrestling licence forced him to retire – he then moved into management for another twelve years where he represented the likes of The Iron Sheik, George ‘The Animal’ Steele and Hulk Hogan. Wrestling, you might say, was in his blood. His great gimmick, back when he worked the sideshow circuit, was to call opponents ‘pencil neck geeks’, named after the carnival performers who bit the heads of live chickens. What can we say? It was a simpler time.
For a long time, Blassie was probably the most famous wrestler in America, and his fame lasted to the point where he could record a novelty record based around his catchphrase in 1977. Pencil Neck Geek is a tuneless curio, eccentric and – by modern standards – wildly offensive, just as you might hope. Produced by Johnny Legend, the record didn’t do much at the time but was re-released in 1985 as an EP by Rhino Records and subsequently became something of a cult classic amongst aficionados of the weird and atrocious. People like you, dear reader…
Available on red vinyl and coming complete with a cut-out Blassie mask, the record was a mere sampling of the delights to be found on the Blassie LP I Bite the Songs, a little of which goes a long way. Unlike the curious magnificence of Exotic Adrian Street‘s musical career, Blassie’s tunes never transcend the level of oddity and to be honest, you’ll only need to hear his signature tune.
For the more intrepid listener, though, the full album is available to enjoy.
lassie remained on the WWF/WWE payroll until his death and would make occasional guest appearances on Wrestlemania, Raw and Royal Rumble broadcasts. His final appearance was in May 2003 and a month later, he died of heart and kidney failure, aged 85.
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Pencil Neck Geek, a brilliant stab in ’77 and more than relevant today.
Time for a long overdue retrospective on the godlike genius that is Johnny Legend, the ‘rockabilly Rasputin’ methinks?
It’s something long overdue, yes.
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