FEATURED SPOTLIGHT: The Righteous Brothers
THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS
Bill Medley is truly one of the iconic figures in American music history. His instantly recognizable baritone voice has anchored some of the biggest recordings of all time. He’s won a Grammy, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and an American Music Award. But Bill himself will be one of the first to tell you - he didn’t do it all on his own.
In the early 1960s, while attending California State University, Medley joined his vocal talents to those of Anaheim native Bobby Hatfield, and The Righteous Brothers were born. Following a string of regional hits and regular appearances on ABC-TV’s national Shindig! broadcast for teens, “the blue-eyed soul” pioneers opened for both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones on their first US tours, and their careers took off.
Soon, The Righteous Brothers caught the attention of legendary producer Phil Spector, who signed the duo to record what would become - according to BMI - the most played song in the history of American radio: the Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil classic, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” A string of top hits followed, including Hatfield’s definitively iconic version of Alex North’s “Unchained Melody” (later immortalized in the 1990 Academy Award-winning film Ghost). Following an agreed-upon parting of ways in 1968, when Medley scored solo top ten hits with, “Peace, Brother, Peace” and “Brown-eyed Woman," Bill and Bobby re-united in 1974, and within a few weeks, had yet another monster hit with “Rock and Roll Heaven.”
Several decades of continuous touring in front of packed crowds followed. During that period, Bill recorded the chart-topping duet “The Time of My Life,” with Jennifer Warnes, for the movie Dirty Dancing. It went on to sell over 32 million copies worldwide. In 2003, Righteous Brothers fan Billy Joel inducted the pair into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a glowing 7-minute speech, and their place in music history was suitably secured.
However, things were forever changed in 2003, as Hatfield died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Grieving the loss of his friend and now devoid of a musical partner, Medley continued to perform to sold-out crowds around the world, but fans and friends pleaded with him to keep The Righteous Brothers alive. This seemed like an impossible request - until a happy accident brought him into contact with longtime friend Bucky Heard.
Heard, an Alabama native and Auburn University alum, made his career as one of the most popular and versatile performers in America for several years, headlining countless shows in major venues. His reputation as a gutsy rock and roll singer, with an incredible vocal range, garnered him lavish critical praise and a legion of fans.
“I’d been friends with Bucky for years,” says Medley, “but when I caught his show, he just killed me! The next day it hit me – that’s the guy, someone I could sing hard with, laugh hard with, love and respect – on and off stage. He fits The Righteous Brothers live performance show perfectly.”
“No one could ever take Bobby’s place,” he continues, “but when I caught Bucky’s show, it all came together – I found the right guy to help me recreate the magic.”
Heard, for his part, says teaming with Medley has been a wonderful gift; “Performing with Bill Medley is like getting your PhD in show business! He is more than a legend; he puts everything into every performance, and really understands how to connect with an audience. He motivates me to be my best and I’m so grateful for this opportunity!”
Heading boldly into the future with one eye respectfully on the past, the Righteous Brothers are back on the road again with their decades-spanning catalogue of stunning #1 classics, ready as ever to bring back that lovin’ feelin’!
Tickets for The Righteous Brothers on Saturday, August 11 at 3:00 pm at Cary Memorial Hall are $69-$99, and are on sale now at www.CaryHallLexington.com, or by calling 1 (800) 657-8774.