Songwriters Friends



"You never close your eyes…" That simple, six-note opening line from You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' resonates among the most familiar kick-offs in pop music history. It helped create an unexpected legacy. When Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield (The Righteous Brothers) closed their eyes at their beginning in 1962, they clutched a rather na’ve dream: They simply wanted to put a group together that was good enough to play Las Vegas lounges.

Open your own eyes four decades later, and it's difficult to imagine a time when The Righteous Brothers had not impacted American pop culture.

Their signature, You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', stands as the most-played song in the history of American radio. Bobby's Unchained Melody, which was produced by Bill, re-surfaced 25 years after they first recorded it to become an essential, million-selling part of the movie "Ghost." It has since been recognized in an AOL poll as the best love song of all-time. The Righteous Brothers galvanized the link between rock and rhythm & blues so convincingly that they spurred the creation of a new term, "blue-eyed soul." And their legacy is permanently recognized with their 2003 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The significance of the honor is not lost on the duo. Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield had no idea when they first met in Orange County, California, that their partnership would give them a lifetime of relevance. At the time, to expect their work would somehow be enshrined in a Hall of Fame would have been ludicrous.

"It's a blessing to still be around after 40 years," Medley suggests. "When we started out, rock 'n' roll was thought to be only a fad. Some DJs were even smashing their records of this so-called 'devil music,' so we were always talking about what we'd do next. We still are!"

But even from the beginning, The Righteous Brothers were doing something special. Elvis Presley had shocked the culture as a Caucasian in the '50s, by threading his music with the intensity of R&B. The Righteous Brothers gave the concept a new sophistication. With Medley's rich, seductive bass and Hatfield's urgent, gospel-inflected tenor creating a unique harmonic blend, they sang with such depth of soul that listeners assumed they were African-American. Combined with the density of Phil Spector's "wall of sound" production, the duo defied traditional music labels, gaining play on both pop and R&B stations. When a Philadelphia air personality tabbed their music "blue-eyed soul," The Righteous Brothers built a tradition that still exists in pop music today. And no less than Elvis himself demonstrated respect for the duo by frequently singing You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' and Unchained Melody during his 1970s performances.

The Righteous Brothers actually began existence as members of a 5-piece group called The Paramours. Performing in a local bar, a Black marine in the audience shouted out after one of their duets, "That was righteous, brothers." They remembered the occasion and eventually renamed their group The Righteous Brothers for their first album.

Within two years, they had made inroads at radio, landed a semi-regular spot on ABC-TV's "Shindig," and proven flexible enough to share concert bills with the legendary Jack Benny, and open for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. But their full power would not be recognized until the 1964 session that yielded You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'. They built a pleading, four-minute cry of romantic desperation that Vanity Fair would recognize as "the most erotic duet between men on record." "We had no idea if it would be a hit," Medley recalls. "It was too slow, too long, and right in the middle of The Beatles and the British Invasion." And clearly on target with public taste. The performing rights organization BMI has recorded some 8 million plays of the song, making it the most-programmed title in the history of American radio.

But it's merely one of numerous pinnacle moments The Righteous Brothers would achieve. They crashed the Billboard Top 10 five times in 15 months, adding such classics as (You're My) Soul And Inspiration, Ebb Tide and Just Once In My Life. And their undeniable chemistry has demonstrated an amazing resiliency. After parting in 1968, they reunited in 1974, hitting the Top 10 once again with the reverential Rock And Roll Heaven. The movies Top Gun, Ghost, Naked Gun and Dirty Dancing repeatedly re-established the Righteous brand. Medley's Grammy-winning duet with Jennifer Warnes I've Had The Time of My Life from Dirty Dancing was a platinum seller and walked away with the "Song of the Year" honors. Hatfield's performance of Unchained Melody in Ghost, originally recorded in a single studio take, was so overwhelmingly received that the duo recorded a new version, which also went platinum and brought them a Grammy nomination.

"Movies," Hatfield maintains, "introduced our music to a whole new generation of fans, for whom we are truly grateful."

Fans of multiple generations still keep The Righteous Brothers active. The duo routinely performs 60-80 shows on the road during a year, in addition to singing for about 12 weeks in Las Vegas, the city they had originally hoped would merely provide a weekly salary. Their spontaneity and interplay guarantee that no two shows are ever quite the same.

Forty years after their debut, The Righteous Brothers have opened the eyes of both critics and music buyers, and, frankly, surprised even themselves. With a trend-setting sound, the most-played song in history and a place in rock's Hall of Fame, their once-na’ve dream of merely playing Vegas has been superseded by an awesome legacy

Artists

American Quartet
Andrews Sisters
Louis Armstrong (Satchmo)
Fred Astaire
Chet Atkins
Gene Austin (Voice of the Southland)
Gene Autry
Nora Bayes
Brook Benton
Ben Bernie
Connee Boswell
Fanny Brice
Henry Burr
Cab Calloway
Glen Campbell
Albert Campbell
Carter Family (First Family of Country Music)
Enrico Caruso
Ray Charles
Patsy Cline
Larry Clinton
Rosemary Clooney
Nat Cole (King)
Arthur Collins
Perry Como
Bing Crosby
Bob Crosby
Frank Crumit
Vic Damone
Sammy Davis Jr.
Doris Day
Tommy Dorsey
Jimmy Dorsey
Cliff Edwards
Ruth Etting
Shep Fields
Eddie Fisher
Ella Fitzgerald
Tennessee Ernie Ford
Connie Francis
Aretha Franklin (Queen of Soul)
Lefty Frizzell
Jan Garber
Judy Garland
George J. Gaskin (The Silver Voice Irish Tenor)
Marvin Gaye
Benny Goodman (King of Swing)
Glen Gray
Byron G. Harlan
Marion Harris
Charles Harrison
Haydn Quartet
Dick Haymes
Horace Heidt
Woody Herman
Billie Holiday (Lady Day)
Whitney Houston
Eddy Howard
Ink Spots
Harry James
Lewis James
Al Jolson
Ada Jones
George Jones
Sammy Kaye
Hal Kemp
Wayne King (Waltz King)
Pee Wee King
Kay Kyser
Frankie Laine
Brenda Lee
Ted Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis (The Killer)
Guy Lombardo
Vincent Lopez
Harry MacDonough
Freddy Martin
Dean Martin
Johnny Mathis
John McCormack
Glenn Miller
Mills Brothers
Vaughn Monroe
Russ Morgan
Billy Murray (The Denver Nightingale)
J.W. Myers
Ozzie Nelson
Olivia Newton-John
George Olsen
Original Dixieland Jazz Band
Vess L. Ossman (The King of the Banjo)
Buck Owens
Patti Page
Minnie Pearl
Peerless Quartet
Peter, Paul & Mary
Elvis Presley (The King)
Ray Price
Prince's Orchestra
Dan Quinn
Leo Reisman
Paul Robeson
Roy Rogers
Linda Ronstadt
Diana Ross
Ben Selvin
Artie Shaw
Nat Shilkret
Dinah Shore
Frank Sinatra
Bessie Smith (Empress of the Blues)
Sousa's Band
Len Spencer
Dusty Springfield
Jo Stafford
Frank Stanley
Kay Starr
Cal Stewart
Barbra Streisand
The 4 Seasons
The 5th Dimension
The Byrds
The Carter Family
The Commodores
The Drifters
The Everly Brothers
The Four Tops
The Impressions
The Miracles
The Platters
The Righteous Brothers
The Spinners
The Supremes
The Temptations
Ernest Tubb (Texas Troubadour)
Sophie Tucker
Van & Schenck
Walter Van Brunt
Sarah Vaughan
Fred Waring
Dionne Warwick
Ted Weems
Kitty Wells
Paul Whiteman
Margaret Whiting
Bert Williams
Andy Williams
Teddy Wilson
Tammy Wynette