Music

Teenage Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Sang Country Music in Downtown Nashville

AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Before becoming one of the biggest stars to ever grace a WWE ring and one of Hollywood's highest-paid actors, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson spent formative years in Music City.

Of the four high schools Johnson attended, two were in Nashville: McGavock and Glencliff. This was at a time when young Rock's dad, Rocky Johnson, was one of the top wrestling attractions in Tennessee.

The future star enjoyed music beyond, um, classic rock. And on at least one occasion, listening to his country favorites on radio station WSM while pumping iron wasn't enough for a natural-born performer.

"A lil' flashback to the iconic honky tonk I used to hang out in when I was 15 years old: the one and only Tootsie's Orchid Lounge," The Rock wrote in a Nov. 6, 2020 social media post. "I grew up loving traditional country, blues and hip hop - but when I was 15 living in a lil' motel room in Nashville - just me and a buddy of mine - I thought I could be a decent country music singer to make a little money not be broke. A woman heard me singing in a grocery store (true story) and told me I should go down to Broad street and try and sing in one of the honky tonks to get noticed. So that's what I did.

"Keep in mind I was 15, but I actually looked 57," he continued. "One night at a one of country bars, I bought a car from a crackhead for $40 bucks (original agreement was $75:) - and that beat up Thunderbird turned out to be stolen, of course - and about a month later we were forced out of Nashville. Wound up moving to the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Bethlehem) where I would FINALLY, get my wayward ass on the right track to become a productive young man."

In a 2004 interview with the Tennessean, The Rock explained how the often-told $40 car incident ended.

''But they got the last laugh," he said. "They had the gas key. I think I left the car in a Burger King parking lot.''

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Music Row never came calling for Sawyer Brown's buddy Jeff Jarrett, much less The Rock. Though the latter got a special gift from a famous friend.

"And though my 15yr old dream of become a country music legend, never came true... years later, my buddy - the GOAT Willie Nelson would gift me my very first guitar," Rocky adds. "Which I learned to play pretty well. Didn't matter anyway because I proudly sing in raspy keys that don't exist."

In more recent times, Dwayne Johnson's cited Cody Jinks, Sturgill Simpson, Jamey Johnson and Tyler Childers as some of his favorite current stars.

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Teenage Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Sang Country Music in Downtown Nashville