Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
-- inducted 2003
Bobby Hatfield died November 5, 2003. He was 63.
For nearly four decades, the
Righteous Brothers defined the essence of "blue-eyed soul." Together and as
solo artists, Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield reached generations of
fans with their unmistakable, heartfelt vocal style. From their 1965
chart-topping success with "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling"
to 1990's surprise rediscovery of "Unchained Melody," the
Righteous Brothers endured and thrived as legendary talents.
What explains the duo's evergreen appeal? Perhaps it's the raw emotion
which Medley and Hatfield conveyed as singers. There's also the knack
they had for choosing timeless, immaculately crafted songs to record.
"Unchained Melody," featured in the film 'Ghost,' became a platinum single in
early '91 when the duo's newly recorded version sold more than one million
copies. The song also earned them a Grammy nomination in the category of
"Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group with Vocal." The
re-recorded "Unchained Melody" was included on "Very
Best of Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody"
(released October '90), as well as on "Reunion."
The return of "Unchained Melody" to the charts some 25 years
after the Righteous Brothers first recorded the song is nothing short of
amazing. The stirring, achingly romantic power of their music has truly
stood the test of time.
Medley and Hatfield first became
"brothers" after both were performing on their own around
their home turf in the Los Angeles suburb of Orange County. They sang
together one night, and the audience response convinced them to stay
together. They quickly developed a stage act which featured the urgent
back-and-forth vocal exchanges that went on to become their trademark.
Medley's soulful, rich timbre was the perfect compliment for the
higher-pitched, gospel-tinged range of Hatfield.
The duo first recorded for the small Moonglow label, releasing a series
of singles (including their first hit, 'Little Latin Lupe Lu') and their
debut album "Right Now." But their real rise to prominence began when they
started working with producer Phil Spector.
1965 saw the release of
"You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," which matched the Righteous
Brothers' passionate singing with Spector's famed "Wall of
Sound" to monumental effect. The song topped the charts and led to
further hits, including "Just Once In My Life,"
"Unchained Melody" and "Ebb Tide."
Switching labels to Verve, the duo enjoyed further chart success with
the million-selling "(You're My) Soul And Inspiration," as
well as "He Will Break Your Heart" and "Go Ahead And Cry." Then, in 1968, Medley and Hatfield parted company and
embarked on solo careers. Medley had several hit singles, including
Medley and Hatfield joined forces again in 1974 and scored another hit
with "Rock And Roll Heaven." This reunion proved to be
short-lived, however, and the duo split up once more. Yet the Righteous
Brothers' legacy proved too vital to leave to the pop history books. The
appearance of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" on the
soundtrack to the film "Top Gun" was but one sign of the Brothers'
The duo continued to perform together on a semi-regular basis through
the '80s, most notably on a 20th Anniversary reunion tour in '82. As a solo artist, Medley achieved much success, making his biggest breakthrough with his 1987
Number One single "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life," a duet
with Jennifer Warnes from the
When "Unchained Melody" became one of 1990's biggest hits
after its inclusion in Ghost, no one was more
surprised than Medley and Hatfield. "I feel that the popularity of
the song is just a miracle," Hatfield told the Chicago
Sun-Times in an interview. "I've always loved it,
but never expected the public's reaction to it to be quite this feverish
Combined with the airplay that the original version
of the song was receiving, it seemed the perfect time to reunite the
Righteous Brothers as a recording act once again. They went into the
studio together for the first time since 1974 with Medley producing. The
sessions, which resulted in the tracks heard on "Reunion," showed that
Medley and Hatfield's powers as singers remained unique and undimmed.
The 1990's saw a new generation of fans discovering the magic of the
Notable songs include --
- (You're My) Soul and Inspiration
- You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'
- Unchained Melody
- Rock & Roll Heaven
- Just Once in My Life
- Little Latin Lupe Lu
- Ebb Tide
- Try to Find Another Man
- My Babe
Bobby Hatfield will be missed. Remember him through his music.
Genre: Rock 1
Brill Building Pop
Sep 19, 1940
in Los Angeles
Aug 10, 1940
in Beaver Dam
Nov 5, 2003