John Wayne was one of the most recognizable Western actors in Hollywood ever. The Duke had been in countless films from the 1920s on. From “The Longest Day” to “True Grit” to “The Searchers” to “The Shootist,” Wayne had a special talent for playing stoic and mighty Western men.
Beyond over 170 films, Wayne had also dabbled quickly in the music industry. However, it was not a singing album. As for as we’re concerned, there’s no real evidence that Wayne was much of a singer.
John Wayne, ‘America, Why I Love Her’
Instead, he released an album called “American, Why I Love Her,” in 1973. It was a spoken-word, poetry album released by RCA Victor. The poems were written by actor John Mitchum, the brother of Robert Mitchum, and then recited by John Wayne.
Apparently, the album had been suggested after Forrest Tucker happened to hear John Mitchum recite one of the poems, “Why Are You Marching, Son?” Tucker, Mitchum, and Wayne were all on the set of the movie “Chisum.”
The album features Wayne reading the poems with an orchestra and choir playing as he does so. It happened to be nominated for a Grammy in 1973 at the 16th Annual Grammy Awards. He was nominated in the category of Best Spoken Word Recording. Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and Gladys Knight & The Pips dominated that year at the Grammys. Richard Bach won for “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” that year instead of Wayne’s album.
“America, Why I Lover Her,” spent 16 weeks on the Billboard 200 albums chart, but only peaked at the 66th position. The album has 10 different poetry songs.
John Wayne may not have been a musician himself, but his character type did inspire others. Lady Gaga released a song called “John Wayne” in 2016. The song is meant to describe her attraction to rugged, cowboy-like men that are different than the city men she’s used to.
Lyrics include: “Every John is just the same / I’m sick of their city games / I crave a real wild man / I’m strung out on John Wayne.“
She isn’t the only one that has used the Hollywood icon’s name and likeness as a title or lyric, either. Cigarettes After Sex is another band that used The Duke’s name as an epic song title.
Wayne and the Mitchum Brothers
Robert Mitchum went to Hollywood with the hopes of becoming a popular actor. His brother John had followed him there and had several small roles over the years as well.
Robert Mitchum and Wayne also starred together in the 1966 film “El Dorado.” The movie is about a gunfighter that comes to help an old friend, a drunk sheriff. The sheriff is trying to defend a rancher from another rancher trying to steal their belongings.
The theme song from the film is actually considered one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time, according to the Western Writers of America.
The younger brother, John Mitchum, had many smaller roles. He appeared in films like “Stalag 17,” “Submarine Command,” “Chisum,” “Paint Your Wagon,” and “High Plains Drifter.” His most memorable was as Clint Eastwood’s sidekick in “Dirty Harry.” He also appeared in shows like “Gunsmoke,” “Batman,” “The Waltons,” and “Little House on the Prairie.”