How records from Eddie Murphy, Mr. T, Don Johnson, and others fared

By Rich Brown
Updated October 18, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

Marky Mark’s surprisingly effective turn as a teen psycho in Fear, recently released on video, proves once again that a recording star can remake himself as a movie tough guy. But few actors have successfully gone the other way — making the perilous leap from action star to singing sensation. As the following six examples show, there’s a big difference between flexing muscles and flexing vocal cords.

Burt Reynolds Ask Me What I Am
Premise: Reynolds shed his tough-guy image (Fuzz, Shamus, White Lightning) to put out this strangely wimpy collection of love songs and childhood reminiscences. Sounds like bad Bobby Goldsboro. Big-name collaborator: Bobby Goldsboro (producer). Choice lyric: ”Sometimes you wake up and the whole world feels all wrong.” (From ”You Can’t Always Sing a Happy Song.”)

Philip-Michael Thomas Living the Book of My Life
Premise: This self-produced album features the Miami Vice star performing songs he either wrote or cowrote. At least we know whom to blame. Big-name collaborator: ”The creator of heaven and earth and the universe” (thanked on liner notes). Choice lyric: ”When I want filet mignon, fish and chips won’t do/Got to have me something special/Girl, my mind’s on you.” (From ”Fish and Chips.”)

Don Johnson Let It Roll
Premise: This was actually the second solo album (after Heartbeat) by the other Miami Vice star, who decided to push the musical envelope this time around by singing one tune in Spanish. Ay caramba! Big-name collaborator: His former gal pal Barbra Streisand (who sang backup vocals). Choice lyric: ”I wonder if you’ll think of me after I am gone.” (From ”What if It Takes All Night.”)

Mr. T Mr. T’s Commandments
Premise: The macho do-gooder parlayed his success on TV’s The A-Team into two children’s albums featuring his trademark barking. The pedagogical impact of Mr. T’s inspirational messages is offset somewhat by his unique use of English grammar. Big-name collaborators: Jon Peters and Peter Guber (executive producers). Choice lyric: ”I pity the fool that don’t listen to me.” (From ”Don’t Talk to Strangers.”)

Eddie Murphy How Could It Be
Premise: Having already proved himself as a movie star (48 HRS., Beverly Hills Cop) and a TV comic (Saturday Night Live), Murphy set out to conquer the music world with this debut R&B album. Follow-up attempts included the forgettable releases ”So Happy” and ”Love’s Alright.” Big-name collaborators: Rick James and Stevie Wonder (producers). Choice lyric: ”Hee, hee yeah. I like to say hee yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.” (From ”I, Me, Us, We.”)

Robert Mitchum Calypso — Is Like So…
Premise: While filming on location in Trinidad, Mitchum soaked up a bit of the local culture and decided to become a calypso singer. In a bold move, the usually deep-voiced actor sang at a high pitch with a remarkably uncharacteristic Caribbean accent. Big-name collaborator: None. Choice lyric: ”Shut your mouth, go away, mama looka boo boo day.” (From ”Mama, Looka Boo Boo.”)