If you’ve ever listened to The Wrestling Album, the WWF’s 1985 curiosity that cast its muscled superstars as singers, you can hear why producer Rick Derringer figured he needed an actual vocalist for the 1987 follow-up, Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II.
Sandwiched in among colorful rasslin’ managers like Jimmy Hart and Slick and grapplers the Honky Tonk Man and Hillbilly Jim was Robbie Dupree, the soft-rock singer-guitarist who had a pair of hits in 1980 with the dangerously smooth “Steal Away” and “Hot Rod Hearts.” For Piledriver, he leaned hard into the theme of the latter, coming up with the wonderfully inane “Girls in Cars.” Technically billed as a collaboration with the tag team Strike Force — that was Rick Martell and Tito Santana, for those in the know — the yacht-rock retread is all Dupree.
“I had been dropped by Elektra and was doing live shows and session work. Rick Derringer and his engineer, the late Tommy Edmunds, contacted me and said, ‘Hey, we got this thing,'” Dupree told Rolling Stone during a recent conversation on the yacht-rock phenomenon. “They wanted to get somebody other than the wrestlers to do it. I didn’t really want to, but I thought, ‘No one is ever going to hear this, so fuck it. I’m going to get paid good money and it’ll vanish.'”
But instead of disappearing into the pop-culture ether, the song has endured online as a gloriously cheesy music video. The plot: Dupree sings and plays guitar on the beach, women drive by in sports cars, and seagulls fill the sky behind him.
“I wound up stuck in an RV trailer in Malibu with two or three strippers,” says Dupree. “They gave a kid $5 to throw baitfish up in the air to bring the seagulls. He was back there with a whole bucket.”
Dupree even made new fans from the song. “Wrestling kids! I’d be in a market somewhere and two little kids would tug on their mom’s shoulders and go, ‘Look who it is.’ It wasn’t about ‘Steal Away,’ it was about ‘Girls in Cars,'” he says. “What I thought would go away has gone on to be ever-present.”