The Righteous Brothers formed a group that was best described as performing white soul. The duo put five top ten songs on the charts in the mid-60's and had one giant hit that helped to define the era.
Bobby Hatfield was born in 1940 in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, and Bill Medley was born the same year in Santa Ana, California. They formed a duo in 1962 in the Los Angeles area, calling themselves the Paramours. Hatfield sang tenor and Medley sang baritone. They signed with Moonglow Records and also recorded for Smash early in their career. Black audiences liked their music and began to call it "blue-eyed soul," describing their act as very "righteous."
Eventually they changed their name to the Righteous Brothers and came up with some minor hits, including Little Latin Lupe Lu which reached the top fifty and became a dance craze. They were spotted by British rock/TV producer Jack Good, who had made his way to Los Angeles and was a producer with the popular rock TV show Shindig. They appeared on the show and were signed to the Philles label by Phil Spector, who had already had a run of success with the Crystals, the Paris Sisters, Curtis Lee, the Ronettes, and others. They were given a song that Spector had written with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, whom he had known from his days in the Brill Building in New York. Hatfield and Medley recorded the song and it entered the charts in late 1964. You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' was a smash success. It topped the charts in the US and the UK and to this day is one of the most requested songs of the era.
The Righteous Brothers continued to appear on Shindig and another, similar TV show called Hullabaloo. They were now international stars, and followed up their hit with another that reached the top ten Just Once In My Life. They revived some old songs: Unchained Melody and Ebb Tide were huge, making four top ten songs in a row produced by Spector for the Righteous Brothers.
The Righteous Brothers moved on to the Verve label where they recorded [You're My] Soul And Inspiration, which proved to be their final top ten song of the 60's. [You're My] Soul And Inspiration was from an album of the same name, and the song He from the same album also charted in 1966. It was one of six albums that the duo was to do for Verve, including Standards in 1968 on which Hatfield sang all of the songs on one side and Medley all of the songs on the other.
Their success with the record-buying public had run its course, at least for the time being, and the duo broke up in 1968. Bobby Hatfield recruited Jimmy Walker to be the other Righteous Brother and together they put out the album Re-birth on Verve in 1970. Bill Medley began to record albums as a solo artist for MGM, A&M and Liberty on up until 1980.
In 1974 Hatfield and Medley once again began to record as the Righteous Brothers. They managed to put several songs in the top forty including the surprise hit Rock And Roll Heaven which went to number three.
In the 80's Bill Medley combined with singer Jennifer Warnes to record the theme song from the motion picture Dirty Dancing and [I've Had] The Time Of My Life went to number one in 1987. He also invested in a Reno, Nevada nightclub called Kicks which he co-owned with 60's rock star Paul Revere.
In 1990 the group's hit Unchained Melody from back in 1965 was featured in the motion picture Ghost, and it returned to the charts where it peaked at number thirteen. The duo got together to record it again that year and it charted for the third time, this time going to number nineteen.
On November 5, 2003, Bobby Hatfield died in his sleep at the Radisson Hotel in Kalamazoo, Michigan, shortly before the Righteous Brothers were scheduled for a performance at Western Michigan University.
The Righteous Brothers put 21 songs in the top 100 from 1963 to 1974 and had three top ten LP's to their credit. In 1967 their Greatest Hits album was released by Verve. In March, 2003 the Righteous Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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