Righteous Brothers

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Righteous Brothers

Righteous Brothers, The , pioneers of the “blue-eyed soul” sound; Bill Medley, bs.-bar. (b. Santa Ana, Calif., Sept. 19, 1940); and Bobby Hatfield, ten. (b. Beaver Dam, Wise, Aug. 10, 1940).

Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield formed a vocal duo in 1961 and recorded for Smash Records as The Paramours. They ostensibly received the name The Righteous Brothers from fans attending performances during a six-month engagement at The Black Derby in Santa Ana, Calif. Switching to the small Hollywood label Moonglow, the duo scored their first moderate hit with Medley’s “Little Latin Lupe Lu” in 1963. Building a regional following, The Righteous Brothers reached a national audience through regular appearances on television’s Hullabaloo and Shindig shows beginning in 1964.

In June 1964, Medley and Hatfield accepted an offer to record for producer Phil Spector, and, by early 1965, they had scored a top pop and British and smash rhythm-and-blues hit with “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,” written by Spector, Barry Mann, and Cynthia Weil, on Spector’s Philles label. A stunning recording featuring layers of orchestration and a near-orgasmic vocal performance by Medley and Hatfield, the single came to be regarded as one of the greatest ever recorded. Under Spector, The Righteous Brothers recorded three more smash crossover hits, “Just Once in My Life,” written by Spector, Carole King, and Gerry Goffin; and the Tin Pan Alley standards “Unchained Melody” and “Ebb Tide.”

By late 1965, The Righteous Brothers had switched to the Verve subsidiary of MGM Records, where they scored a top pop and major rhythm-and-blues hit with the Spector-styled “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration,” written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. After the major hit “He,” The Righteous Brothers managed only moderate-to-minor hits through 1967, and, by 1968, the duo had broken up. Medley subsequently pursued a solo recording career on MGM, achieving moderate hits with “Brown Eyed Woman” and “Peace Brother Peace” in 1968. He recorded for MGM through 1970 and then switched to A&M Records. In the meantime, Hatfield recruited Jimmy Walker, a former member of The Knickerbockers (1965’s “Lies”), for a sole Righteous Brothers album and recorded a solo album.

The duo reunited in 1974 on Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter’s Haven label. Their debut album, Give It to the People, surprisingly yielded three hits, a smash hit with the rock-and-roll death song “Rock and Roll Heaven,” the major hit title song, and the moderate hit “Dream On.” A second album for the label failed miserably, and Medley resumed his solo career in the late 1970s on United Artists. He eventually achieved success in the country field on RCA Records in 1984 with “Till the Memory’s Gone,” “I Still Do,” and “I’ve Always Got the Heart to Sing the Blues.” During the 1980s, Medley opened two successful oldies dance clubs called The Hop in Orange County and, in 1988, joined Paul Revere in opening another, Kicks, in Reno, Nev. In 1987, he scored a top pop and easy- listening hit in duet with Jennifer Warnes on “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” from the hit movie Dirty Dancing. The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” became a major hit from the movie Ghost in 1990. In 1991, the duo recorded Reunion and Bill Medley recorded Blue Eyed Singer for Curb/Warner Brothers Records. They duo has toured regularly during the summer since the mid-1990s.


the righteous brothers: Right Now! (1963); Some Blue-Eyed Soul (1965); This Is New (1965); Best (1966); You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ (1965); Just Once in My Life (1965); Back to Back (1965); Soul and Inspiration (1966); Go Ahead and Cry (1966); Sayin’ Something (1967); Greatest Hits (1967); Souled Out (1967); Standards (1968); One for the Road (1968); Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (1969); The Righteous Brothers (1970); History (1973); Give It to the People (1974); The Sons of Mrs. Righteous (1975); Unchained Melody (1990); Reunion (1991). JIMMY WALKER AND BOBBY HATFIELD AS THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS : Re-birth (1970). BOBBY HATFIELD : Messin’ in Muscle (1971). BILL MEDLEY : 100% (1968); Soft and Soulful (1969); Someone Is Standing Outside (1970); Nobody Knows (1970); Gone (1971); A Song for You (1971); Smile (1973); Lay a Little Lovin’ on Me (1978); Sweet Thunder (1980); Right Here and Now (1982); I Still Do (1984); Still Hung Up on You (1985); Blue Eyed Singer (1991).

—Brock Helander