Thinking of partnerships between two giants in their field, a collaboration between country artist Willie Nelson and professional wrestler Dusty Rhodes probaby isn’t the first to come to mind. But in 1982, these two proved what a great teamup they could be when they combined their minds and musical talents. The result was a duet of “Whiskey River.”
Now, hearing “Whiskey River” immediately brings to mind country’s definitive outlaw Nelson, so that pairing makes sense. But it was actually a Johnny Bush creation released in 1972 through RCA Victor. Nelson’s version came a year later and immediately became a staple of his. So, what happens when he threw Rhodes into the mix?
Do you remember when Willie Nelson sang “Whiskey River” with Dusty Rhodes?
A clip on YouTube shows Nelson and Rhodes together. A full band is playing music while Nelson is armed with his guitar; beside him is Rhodes armed with a can he occasionally drinks from. Sometimes taking a sip nearly costs him missing a line, which he hurriedly corrects as both he and Nelson stand beside a mic and belt out “Whiskey River.”
A Twitter post on the same subject matter reveals that Rhodes had actually taken the stage while Nelson was performing in Florida in ’82, leading to this moment captured on film. The two had even been good friends and Rhodes was spotted at one of Nelson’s picnics in the ’80s, which was an annual Fourth of July celebration. To see one could very well sometimes mean seeing the other.
Willie Nelson, Dusty Rhodes, and that flowing whiskey river
These days, “Whiskey River,” which went onto Nelson’s 1973 album Shotgun Willie, is considered one of Nelson’s signature songs and is almost a guaranteed track for any concert set list. While Bush’s version peaked on Billboard‘s US Hot Country Songs at number 14, Nelson’s peaked at number 12, and on Canada’s RPM Country Tracks list, it reached number three. What makes this even more special is that Nelson was friends with Bush too, proving “Whiskey River” just brings people together.
Sadly the “American Dream,” Rhodes, died in 2015 at the age of 69. His death is attributed to kidney failure. But in life, he carved out an enduring legacy, even beyond his friendship and fun work with Nelson. For that reason, he was honored by the werstling world with a ten-bell salute and video tribute on Raw. Now, take a look below at his performance on a different kind of stage with his friend Nelson.