Mean WHOO! BY GAWD! Gene Okerlund has finally put that cigarette out, aged 76. A failed rock’n’roll star (his teenage band, Gene Carroll & The Shades, put out a number of singles but failed to get out of their hometown), Okerlund studied broadcast journalism at college and joined the AWA in 1970. Despite previously having no interest in professional wrestling, he was quickly spotted as a potential star and climbed the ladder from occasional backstage interview to leading ring announcer over the decade.
He joined the WWF in 1984 as part of the mass AWA exodus ahead of Vince McMahon’s national expansion, and arguably no man has better typified the role of wrestling interview than Okerlund did over the next 17 years. Whether it was Hulk Hogan shouting “LEMME TELL YA SOMETHIN’ MEAN GENE”, Roddy Piper’s “Mean Gene, ya know what I mean?” or the Legion of Doom’s “WELL…. Mean Gene….” he was as much a part of wrestling’s golden era as steroids, casual racism and bad Hercules Hernandez matches. He was still appearing occasionally on the WWE Network, on The Edge and Christian Show and various nostalgic lookbacks, up until 2018. He died after a short period in hospital following a fall before Christmas. And you don’t need to phone a premium-rate hotline to find that out.
Died aged 76 (unique pick, joker).