20 Years of Austin 3:16 – A Musical Journey

If you want to walk down memory lane, gimmie a hell yeah! On this day, exactly 20 years ago after defeating Jake “The Snake” Roberts at the 1996 WWF King of the Ring, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin began his path to full-fledged 90s icon when, for the first time, he uttered the phrase “Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your ass!” Instantly edgy at a time when the Federation still had wrestling garbagemen and plumbers, the Texas Rattlesnake immediately distinguished himself from the pack as a nation began to have a mudhole stomped in their hearts.

From the pavlovian response to hearing the glass break to having his theme song covered by everyone from Snoop Dogg to Disturbed, to even curating his own heavy metal and country compilations, there’s been quite the number of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin related compositions out there. So, on this day of days, crack open a couple Stevewisers, throw on your finest leather vest and knee-brace, and get ready to flip a few birds along with Stone Cold. And that’s the bottom line.

Jim Johnston – “Hell Frozen Over”(1996)
While Austin had gone through a number of songs prior to it’s use, including his WCW music from Ted Turner’s stock library of TBS metal, his ECW music being “Jesus Christ Superstar” and his first WWF music being something slow and methodical, the glass-shattering “Hell Frozen Over” really captured his swaggering unpredictable persona. Composer Jim Johnston told WWE.com that, while the theme came to him quickly, getting the right glass breaking sound was the hardest part. “I had difficulty creating a glass break that felt violent enough… [it] ended up being a combination of three different glass breaks, someone falling downstairs and a car crash all mixed together.”

Rainbow – “Stone Cold” (1982)
During the WWF’s soaring popularity in 1998, the company released a compilation called Stone Cold Metal, featuring Austin’s hand-selected favorite metal songs of all time, with linear notes explaining why he picked which songs. Austin verified on his podcast that he indeed make all the choices and wrote every word of the linear notes. It went on to sell 250,000 copies and lead to a second Austin-selected compilation…

Waylon Jennings – “I’ve Always Been Crazy” (1978)
Yes Virginia, there is a Stone Cold Country compilation. In 1999 a second Steve Austin-curated compilation hit store shelves. Stone Cold Country featured the Bionic Redneck’s favorite country tunes, only without the linear notes, so we just have to take Austin’s word for it that this is the bottom line on his country favorite. “I’ve Always Been Crazy” starts it, and it contains exactly the type of outlaw country you’d expect.

H-Blockx – “Oh Hell Yeah”(1999)
German nu-metal outfit H-Blockx faired pretty well in the home-country throughout the ’90s, including winning the equivalent of an MTV Best New Artist Video Music Award, but their most notable success in North America was their tribute to “Stone Cold,” the song “Oh Hell Yeah.” Commissioned by the WWF for their WWF The Music: Volume 4 compilation, the video features a giant Austin just kinda walking around Los Angeles.

Snoop Dogg featuring WC – “Hell Yeah” (2000)
When MTV reignited the old flame from their ’80s love affair with wrasslin’, it resulted in a number of Austin appearances on programs like Idiot Savants and Celebrity Deathmatch as well as Austin just popping up on random MTV shows just because he’s Steve Austin. On one occasion, a random fan asked him if rumors were true that Snoop Dogg was remixing his theme music (which I speculate had to have been a plant as this information was nowhere else in the hip-hop consciousness, but far be it from me to suggest something wrestling-related wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up) which Austin confirmed. Six months later, Priority Records released the surprisingly dope WWF Aggression compilation which included Snoop and the terminally underrated W.C. ripping a remix of his theme “Hell Yeah.”

Disturbed – “Glass Shatters” (2000)
That same year, Disturbed reworked Austin’s theme as “Glass Shatters,” amping up the existing guitar parts with a more sinister very-2000 feel. It doesn’t veer too particularly far from the original “Hell Frozen Over,” which made Austin’s transition into using it much more accepted amongst fans. Sadly, this didn’t being a trend of glass-breaking in music, so the inevitable Glasswave scene still seems to be a few years away.

Steve Austin – “Never Gonna Give You Up” (2011)
And to close things out, you just got Stone Cold-Rolled’! And that’s the bottom line, because Stone Cold said so!

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