Rowdy Roddy Piper’s legacy lives on with new book

– Mike Mooneyham

A few years ago I asked Roddy Piper if all the fame and fortune he had amassed over several decades in the wrestling business had been worth it.

Pausing a bit before flashing that familiar million-dollar smile and devilish wink, he said he had no regrets. But then he admitted that the fame hadn’t come without a price.



“The business has taken a toll on me,” he said bluntly. Piper had battled and beaten Hodgkin’s lymphoma, suffered spinal injuries, been stabbed several times and sported a titanium hip as a result of more than 30 years of taking bumps.

“I’m not as sharp as I used to be. But if the creek don’t rise … I think I’ll be OK,” he added.

Everyone else was hoping the same for Roddy. A street kid who rose to prominence in the wrestling and film industries, his working career was now in the rear-view mirror and he was embarking on a new chapter in his life. He was searching for his true identity — not as Rowdy Roddy Piper, the consummate entertainer and pop culture icon, but as Roderick George Toombs, the son, the father, the husband.

Fighting poor health and a career of injuries, he began his journey in an attempt to find answers and put his life story into words. The mission was as therapeutic as it was creative for Roddy. All those years of working in the surreal world of professional wrestling had left the lines blurred between fantasy and reality. Even Roddy himself had gotten to the point where he had trouble separating the two.

It was the reason for his trip to western Canada last year where he attempted to rediscover his largely forgotten youth. He had never talked much about that part of his extraordinary life, and there were many blanks to fill in. Most of all, he wanted to write a book for his family. Little did he know then that it was a book they would ultimately write for him.

Just months after returning from that journey of self-discovery and looking for the truth, Roddy Piper passed away in his sleep at the age of 61. His death was attributed to a heart attack caused by a pulmonary embolism. He left behind a loving family, countless friends and millions of fans.

Roddy also left the book on his life unfinished. Countless interviews had been done and information had been documented. But the journal was far from complete.

That’s where two of his children, Colt Toombs and Ariel Toombs, came to their dad’s rescue. At the suggestion of Piper’s Canadian-based book editor, the siblings agreed to finish the work their dad had started.

What resulted nearly a year later was “Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story,” a monument to the living legacy of Roderick George Toombs as well as to Rowdy Roddy Piper.

“He had started the book,” said Ariel Toombs, 31, an actress and musician in Los Angeles. “The first book he had written years ago was pretty much thrown together. He almost died in the middle of making that book. It was never something he was really that proud of. So he wanted to write this book to set the record straight.”

Setting the record straight, she says, was shedding more of the Rowdy Roddy Piper persona.

“He was getting older, and a lot of what he was doing was for himself and for the family,” she explained. “He wanted us to have a complete actual picture of him. A lot of what we were told over the years were some of the wrestling stories and not necessarily the actual stories.”

For Piper, she said, the time he spent in Canada shortly before his death on July 31, 2015, was vital to the memoir.


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