The Righteous Brothers - Biography

 

The Righteous Brothers

The Righteous Brothers were the musical duo of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield. They recorded from 1963 through 1975, and continued to perform live until Hatfield's death in 2003. Their emotive vocal stylings were sometimes dubbed "blue-eyed soul." Hatfield and Medley both possessed exceptional vocal talent, with range, control, and tone that helped them create a strong and distinct duet sound (and perform as soloists). Medley sang the low parts with his deep, soulful baritone, with Hatfield taking the higher register vocals with his soaring tenor. They gained their name when an African-American Marine shouted out "That was righteous, brothers" at the end of a show. John Wimber, one of the founding leaders of the Vineyard Movement, played the keyboard in the band.

Musical career

Their first major hit single was "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" in 1965. Produced by Phil Spector, the record is often cited as one of the peak expressions of Spector's Wall of Sound production techniques. It was one of the most successful pop singles of its time, despite exceeding the standard length for radio play. Indeed, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" remains the most played song in radio history, estimated to have been broadcast over 8 million times to date. A little known fact about this song was that Spector utilized Sonny and Cher as back-up singers. They had several other Spector-produced hit singles in 1965, including "Just Once in My Life," "Unchained Melody," and "Ebb Tide."

Later Career and Going Solo

In 1974, no longer with Spector, they scored another hit with "Rock and Roll Heaven", a paean to deceased rock singers. A few more minor hits followed, and then the Righteous Brothers were hitless again until 1990, when their original 1965 version of "Unchained Melody" returned to the charts following its inclusion in the movie Ghost. At the same time, the duo released a newly recorded version of "Unchained Melody" on Curb Records, which was certified platinum for sales of one million U.S. copies.

Medley had success (without Hatfield) in 1987 with "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," sung with Jennifer Warnes, from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, earning a Grammy Award. Both Medley and Hatfield also charted with solo singles, although none of them made the Top 40. (One of Medley's minor entries, "Don't Know Much", was a much bigger hit in 1989 when sung as a duet by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville.)

Awards

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10, 2003 by a great admirer of theirs, Billy Joel.

Passing

Hatfield died of a cocaine overdose on November 5, 2003. He was found dead at a hotel in Kalamazoo, Michigan, half an hour before he was due to perform a concert with Medley at Western Michigan University's Miller Auditorium.

U.S. Chart Singles

Righteous Brothers:

  • "Little Latin Lupe Lu" Moonglow 1963 - Pop #49
  • "My Babe" Moonglow 1963 - Pop #75 (re-charted at #101 in 1965)
  • "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" Philles 1964 - Pop #1 (2 wks.)
  • "Bring Your Love To Me" Moonglow 1965 - Pop #83 (flip side "Fannie Mae" peaked at #117)
  • "Just Once In My Life" Philles 1965 - Pop #9
  • "You Can Have Her" Moonglow 1965 - Pop #67
  • "Justine" Moonglow 1965 - Pop #85
  • "Unchained Melody" Philles 1965 - Pop #4
  • "Hung On You" Philles 1965 (flip side of "Unchained Melody") - Pop #47
  • "Ebb Tide" Philles 1965 - Pop #5
  • "Georgia On My Mind" Moonglow 1966 - Pop #62
  • "(You're My) Soul And Inspiration" Verve 1966 - Pop #1 (3 wks.) <GOLD>
  • "He" Verve 1966 - Pop #18
  • "He Will Break Your Heart" Verve 1966 (flip side of "He") - Pop #91
  • "Go Ahead And Cry" Verve 1966 - Pop #30
  • "On This Side Of Goodbye" Verve 1966 - Pop #47
  • "Melancholy Music Man" Verve 1967 - Pop #43
  • "Stranded In The Middle Of Noplace" Verve 1967 - Pop #72 (flip side "Been So Nice" peaked at #128)
  • "Rock And Roll Heaven" Haven 1974 - Pop #3/AC #38
  • "Give It To The People" Haven 1974 - Pop #20
  • "Dream On" Haven 1974 - Pop #32/AC #6
  • "Unchained Melody" Verve Forecast 1990 (re-release of original recording) - Pop #13/AC #1 (2 wks.)
  • "Unchained Melody" Curb 1990 (new recording) - Pop #19 <PLATINUM>

Bobby Hatfield solo

  • "Only You (And You Alone)" Verve 1969 - Pop #95

Bill Medley solo or apart from Hatfield

  • "I Can't Make It Alone" MGM 1968 - Pop #95
  • "Brown Eyed Woman" MGM 1968 - Pop #43
  • "Peace, Brother, Peace" MGM 1968 - Pop #48
  • "Don't Know Much" Liberty 1981 - Pop #88/AC #29
  • "Right Here And Now" Planet 1982 - Pop #58/AC #31
  • "I Still Do" RCA 1984 - AC #25
  • "Loving On Borrowed Time (Love Theme From 'Cobra')" (duet with Gladys Knight) Scotti Brothers 1986 - AC #16
  • "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" (duet with Jennifer Warnes) RCA 1987 - Pop #1(1 wk.)/AC #1 (4 wks.) <GOLD>
  • "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" Scotti Brothers 1988 - AC #49

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