Valiant: Jerry Jarrett called Crockett and asked if they could have me back (in Memphis) for one Monday. Just for one Monday, to team up with Lawler. I told them it was fine with me, and they flew me into Memphis and I did my thing out there.


I get off the plane on Tuesday to do interviews for Crockett and as soon as I came in, Ole and Jim Crockett whisked me right into their office.


Chappell: Were they upset with you?


Valiant: They said, ‘How come you didn’t tell us you were a fan favorite out there?’


Chappell: You mean, Ole and Crockett didn’t realize you were popular in Memphis?


Valiant: David , I told them that it didn’t matter to me if I was a fan favorite or not…you know? But you see, what happened was Jerry Jarrett was on the phone to Crockett early that morning trying to get another date for me.


Chappell: So, Ole and Crockett found out from that phone call that you did well in Memphis the day before?


Valiant: They asked Jarrett, ‘Man what’s going on.’ Jarrett told them Memphis had sold out, and he told them about the ‘Handsome Jim my Valiant’ character….when Handsome Jim my comes in town the place pops out.


Chappell: You were obviously very popular out there…Crockett kept showing clips of you from Memphis singing and the fans going wild. They promoted you as a rock star!


Valiant: Jimmy Hart was there…that was right before MTV. Jim my Hart was really sharp when it came to music. He wrote the song you were referring to in that clip they ran….‘Son Of A Gypsy.’


Chappell: Yep, that’s the one! (laughs)


Valiant: We performed that, and like I said that was before MTV. That was the first musical video done anywhere…that I know of.


Chappell: Along those same lines, you were the first wrestler I remember coming to the ring in the Mid-Atlantic area consistently with theme music.


Valiant: I was the first [in Charlotte], and of course I was the first in Memphis. I brought [theme music] to Memphis.


In 1970 or 1971 I was in Madison Square Garden in New York, and I came out to music. This is when I was teaming with the original Beautiful Bobby… Bobby Harmon. The Grand Wizard managed us then.


Chappell: You were way ahead of your time! (laughs)


Valiant: Yeah brother! (laughs)  That was all cool, you know. We were the first to do music, and then of course Flair and Dusty and everybody did it. In Memphis, then Lawler and everybody would come out to music.


You know, at first it was different. But now, to be different Dave, man….I would ask or try to come out to no music. Because, now, that would be different!


David Chappell and Jimmy Valiant doing the Gateway interview the Friday night before FanFest

January 30, 2004, Concord NC


Chappell: That’s exactly right! (laughs)


Well, I remember when Jos Leduc broke your music box. I didn’t think you were going to make it without your music! (laughs)


Valiant: You know, people were sending money in then so I could buy a new box! (laughs)


Chappell: You mentioned earlier the ‘Handsome Jim my’ fan favorite character that was so popular over in Memphis…when you sold out the Mid-South Coliseum on that Monday in Memphis that Ole and Crockett were so surprised about. But the ‘Handsome Jimmy’ character wasn’t always a fan favorite, was he?


Valiant: For a long time as Handsome Jimmy, I was dirty and bad and rotten to the core. I was cocky and struttin’ around doing all kinds of stuff. I never changed my style, but they just put me with different guys…and boom, it popped. Lawler was one. Jackie Fargo was one. You know, Dick The Bruiser was one…so was the Crusher. So I fit right in there with that role.


Chappell: So I take it that Ole and Crockett decided they wanted to do basically the same thing here, and make you a fan favorite in the Mid-Atlantic area?


Valiant: The deal was David , when I came back from Memphis on that Tuesday….Crockett said he wanted to do something like that with me here. But they wanted to change my name and everything, because you know I had been wrestling for a few weeks here as a heel.


Chappell: By ‘everything,’ you mean Crockett and Ole wanted to change your appearance as well?


Valiant: Yes. I was one of the first clean-shaven, pretty boy type cocky heels. I look around, and Flair’s got that look…and he’s over big in the Carolina’s. Buddy Landel comes in later looking like that…they’re everywhere!


I never had a beard before, but I had a fu man and messed with the sideburns before. I mean, I wanted to be looking a little different all the time.


But to answer your question…yeah, Ole put that together. He said, ‘Throw that razor away, and go grow a beard.’ Then he said, ‘We’re going to need something to call you.’


Chappell: You mean a name change?


Valiant: Yes. I told Ole, ‘How about the Boogie Woogie Man?’ Then I asked him if I could come out to music!


Chappell: What was Ole’s response to that?


Valiant: He said, ‘Say what?’ (laughs)


Chappell: (laughs)


Valiant: Ole kind of sat there for awhile and said, ‘I don’t know about that…and this and that.’ Then he said, ‘What kind of songs are you talking about?’


The thing was, ‘The Boy From New York City’ was hot back then with the [musical group] Manhattan Transfer. But I could have come out to the ring with my own songs. I came out to my own songs in Memphis…like ‘Son Of A Gypsy.’ But we settled on ‘The Boy From New York City.’


Chappell: Where were you, and what were you doing, during this transformation from King James Valiant to the Boogie Woogie Man Jimmy Valiant?


Valiant: The change was pretty easy to pull off, because I had only been on TV a couple of times in Charlotte. Jarrett wanted me back in Memphis, but only for a little while.


Chappell: So Crockett allowed you to go back to Memphis while you were growing your beard, and I guess letting a little time pass for the fans here who had seen you briefly as a heel?


Valiant: That’s right. Ole told me, ‘Go to Jarrett…get out of here. Throw your razor away, and don’t shave. When you come back, bring your music…and we’ll put you back on TV.’ That’s how the Boogie Woogie Man thing took off.

NWA Magazine, 1985


Chappell: And when you came back to Crockett a number of months later, the fans didn’t really associate the Boogie Woogie Man with King James at all, did they?


Valiant: Exactly.


Chappell: Something that always amazed me was how the Boogie Woogie Man character was so over….so fast. It caught fire almost immediately. Why do you think that was?


Valiant: It didn’t take long to become really popular. Not long at all. I think the reason for that was because it was something different, you know?


Chappell: That’s for sure! Before you came along as the Boogie Man, I can’t say I ever remember a wrestler kissing and hugging on another wrestler! (laughs)


Valiant: (laughs) Well, when the Boogie Woogie Man was born, I tried to think of something besides the beard and the music to be different. I said, ‘Hey, nobody else is kissing people.’


Man, I went out there and was kissing men, women, girls, boys, grandmas, grandpas…


Chappell: I remember you got Bob Caudle a few times! (laughs)


Valiant: Bob Caudle, David Crockett…whoever! When I went back to Memphis, man, I’d kiss Lawler and Lance Russell…anybody!


Again, it was just something that I did to be different. It just worked for me. You know, I really had two completely different careers, David . In the 60s and 70s I was Handsome Jimmy, and in the 80s, 90s and beyond I’ve been Boogie Woogie. Of course, all the kissing was tied in to the Boogie Woogie Man!