We pity the fools who dared to break mohawked muscleman Mr. T’s many “commandments”

By on September 24, 2019

We pity the fool at Night Flight HQ who decided “Mr. T’s Commandment” belonged in this 1985 “Take Off to Comedy” episode, now streaming on Night Flight Plus — because it’s not exactly “funny,” you know? — but we really pity the fools who dared to break mohawked muscleman Mr. T’s many “commandments.”

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In addition to Mr. T doing a few carefully-choreographed stunts like bending iron bars and roughing up not-so-tough guys, his overly-preachy motivational music video is filled with tough-love tips for kids.

He orders them to do their homework, not talk to strangers, stay in school and say “No” to drugs, booze and cigarettes (Mr. T never drank, smoked, or took illicit drugs of any kind), as well as showing his parents respect:

“Honor thy mother and father/The Bible makes it clear/If you break the rule, God help you, fool/You got Mr. T to fear!”

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Mr. T (born Laurence Tureaud) had been a mostly well-behaved child himself, except for a brief period between 5th and 7th grades when he got into trouble for playing hookey, cursing, acting tough, and being disrespectful.

His religious mother — who, after his father left the family when Tureaud was just five years old, used her $87-a-month welfare check to buy groceries and pay rent for their three-room apartment, located in the Robert Taylor Homes housing project on Chicago’s rough South Side — eventually straightened little Laurence out.

By the mid-’80s, Mr. T was taking his job as a celebrity so seriously that he reportedly even turning down opportunities to play villains and sex symbols, all because he wanted to be seen as a positive role model, even if he was playing a “good” bad guy.

It was with this clean image in mind that Columbia Records released his 1984 album Mr. T’s Commandments, which featured appearances by a young rapper named Ice-T (credited as “Ice Tea” — now that’s funny) and singers Shanice (“I Love Your Smile”) and Fergie, later of the Black Eyed Peas.

The same year that his Mr. T’s Commandments album was released, Mr. T released a second album, Mr. T’s Be Somebody… or Be Somebody’s Fool! (MCA Records), which featured music from the film of the same name.

Read more about Mr. T below.

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Laurence Tureaud — the second youngest of twelve children — was born on May 21, 1952, on the South Side of Chicago.

His older brothers encouraged him to build up his body so he could defend himself when they weren’t around to protect him.

Tureaud became a standout football player at Dunbar Vocational High School, which led to an athletic scholarship to Prairie View A&M University in Texas (he was thrown out after just one year).  He was recruited by the Green Bay Packers but suffered a knee injury that ended any future athletic endeavors.

He was also a three-time city wrestling champ (90 wins, 1 loss), in addition to being a student of the martial arts.

After college, Tureaud served in the U.S. Army as a military policeman, and then worked as a bouncer for the downtown Chicago club Dingbat’s.

He occasionally worked as a personal bodyguard for celebrities like Michael Jackson, Steve McQueen, Muhammad Ali, Leon Spinks, LeVar Burton and Diana Ross.

His business card read “Next to God, there is no better protection than I.”

In the mid-’70s, Tureaud was a gym teacher in the Chicago public school system. He was reading an issue of National Geographic, and was so impressed by the way Mandinka warriors looked that he adopted their mohawk haircut as his own.

It was around this same time he first changed his name to “Lawrence Tero,” and then to “Mr. T,” simply because he wanted to be called “Mister,” and he began accessorizing with about $300,000 worth of gold chains.

In 1982, Sylvester Stallone was watching the NBC series “Games People Play,” when he saw Mr. T  participating in a contest to find “The World’s Toughest Bouncer.”

He later cast him as Rocky’s nemesis, boxer “Clubber Lang,” in his then-upcoming movie, Rocky III,  making him a huge hit with millions of fans, particularly kids.

In 1983, Mr. T was cast as “Sergeant Bosco A. Baracus” — a.k.a. “B.A.,” which stood for either “Bad Attitude,” or “Bad Ass,” depending on who was asking — on NBC’s action-adventure drama series “The A-Team,” which premiered in January of 1983 (it went off the air in 1987).

By the mid-’80s, Mr. T was showing up everywhere, including photos taken at a White House Christmas Party where he’s dressed in a red Santa suit with First Lady Nancy Reagan sitting on his lap.

He appeared in movies like 1983’s DC Cab, guest-starred on TV’s “Silver Spoons” and “Diff’rent Strokes,” and in live-action segments of his own Saturday morning cartoon.

Over the years, Mr. T was given his own TV show, but most of those — including “T and T” (1988-1990) — are now mostly forgotten, as is his appearance in a musical TV special, “Mr. T and Emmanuel Lewis in a Christmas Dream” (1984).

In 1985, Mr. T entered the world of pro wrestling for the first time, joining the “WWF Superstars of Wrestling” cast and becoming Hulk Hogan‘s tag team partner at the first WrestleMania (they defeated the tag team of Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper on March 31, 1985).

His feud with Piper continued into WrestleMania 2 in 1986, defeating Piper in a boxing match.

There’s more to Mr. T’s story, but we’re out of room!

Watch Night Flight’s 1985 “Take Off to Comedy” on Night Flight Plus.

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.