Roadtrip Music: Sunrise (Instrumental) by SPECTRUM (Stan Hansen)
Violent brawler? West Texas University alumni? Beloved in Japan? One could be forgiven for thinking I’m talking about last week’s edition with Terry Funk – but this man ticks many of the same boxes. It’s Stan “The Lariat” Hansen.
Stan Hansen started his career in the territories but it wasn’t long before he hit upward momentum. He debuted 1973 and in 1976 he was wrestling Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF title. Hansen broke Sammartino’s neck which set up the rematch at the historic Showdown at Shea Stadium supercard (headlined by Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki broadcast on closed-circuit from Tokyo).
It wasn’t long after this that Hansen went to New Japan Pro Wrestling to work for Inoki and the man who broke Bruno’s neck had no issues being received as a top heel by the Japanese. Hansen was one of the rare talents to win a title from Inoki (the NWF World title).
In 1981 he left Inoki’s NJPW to join Giant Baba’s All Japan Pro Wrestling and became the only man to defeat both Inoki and Baba in singles title matches. While in AJPW he formed tag teams with the likes of Jimmy Snuka, Genichiro Tenryu and others. Most famously though – he teamed with the late Bruiser Brody. While in AJPW Hansen had high-profile title matches with Tenryu and Jumbo Tsuruta over the three heavyweight titles in the promotion. Three would become one when Jumbo (NWA International) beat Hansen (PWF Heavy and NWA United National) to unify the belts into the Triple Crown in 1989.
Stan Hansen had a famous match for New Japan in 1990 where he and Vader worked so stiff that an errant blow from Hansen caused Vader’s eye to dislodge from it’s socket. Vader pushed the eye back in and kept going.
While I can’t actually find it to accurately cite it, there was a poll held in the late 2010s by Tokyo Sports (I think) in which Stan Hansen was ranked Number 1 as the most popular foreign wrestler (gaijin) in Japanese history.
Legendary in Japan, Stan Hansen also achieved well stateside. He defeated Rick Martel to win the AWA World Heavyweight title in 1985 and held numerous titles across numerous territories. He is in at least 7 different wrestling halls of fame.
But this is a music series. Let’s talk about his music. In Japan he used the instrumental version of Sunrise by a Japanese funk group called Spectrum. The original was released on their Optical Sunrise album in 1980. The instrumental version has been released a number of times over the years. One of the more peculiar releases in on a Stan Hansen themed picture disc from VAP Records in 1983. There were a few of these types of things released for wrestlers (Hulk Hogan, Terry Funk) in Japan.
The below is the entirety of the Hansen disc (Sunrise is the first track) which features interviews, audio clips and a few other themes.