Blockbuster movies include A-list actors, a compelling story and, usually, a feel-good ending. What ties it all together? It’s often a memorable musical soundtrack.
The Righteous Brothers’ songs hit on that perfect combination for several movies in the 1980s. Remember the movie “Ghost?” — the pottery wheel scene where Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore sensuously mold clay while “Unchained Melody” plays, “I’ve hungered for your touch.”
Or when Tom Cruise belts out a karaoke version, “You’ve lost that loving feeling, woah, that loving feeling,” in “Top Gun” as he’s trying to woo Kelly McGillis.
You can hear these songs, the “Dirty Dancing” theme song, “The Time of My Life” and more when the Righteous Brothers take the stage at Hoyt Sherman Place on April 30.
Bill Medley, one of the original co-founders of the Righteous Brothers, says the movies reignited their career.
“Having success was a wonderful surprise. The 1980s movies brought Bobby and I back,” says Medley.
Medley and Bobby Hatfield formed the Righteous Brothers in 1963. Known as “blue-eyed soul pioneers,” Medley sang in a rich baritone while Hatfield sang higher vocals. When they recorded albums, the pair would sing their own solos, as well as sing duets together.
Record producer Phil Spector asked Medley to produce Hatfield’s “Unchained Melody” as Hatfield’s solo.
“Phil put it on the ‘B’ side of the record for some reason. But the radio stations played it anyway. It was something of an accident,” explains Medley.
The pair opened for The Beatles and the Rolling Stones early in their career. Their song, “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” was, at one time, the most played song in radio history. They parted for solo careers then reunited in 1974, playing hundreds of concerts. After several music awards, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.
Shortly after the honor, Medley’s life was upended when Hatfield died in 2003.
“When Bobby passed away, it was tough emotionally in every respect. It was the most difficult time in my life. I was lost,” he reflects. “It was like a marriage — losing a partner. It was a monstrous thing.”
The grief he experienced halted his performing — and he didn’t perform until 13 years after Hatfield’s death.
“Friends told me I need to keep the Righteous Brothers alive for everyone to hear,” he says.
It was impossible to fill Bobby’s shoes, as he was “irreplaceable.” However, Medley ran into singer Bucky Heard.
“If I would do it, he’d be the guy,” he recalls. “He’s phenomenal.”
Heard joined Medley in 2016, and the pair have toured since then. He credits his friends for getting him out of a rough spot.
“God bless my friends. They had more hope than I did. They were sure I needed to be out there. Thank God I ran into Bucky. He’s a wonderful man and a great singer,” he says.
At age 81, singing consumes Medley’s life. Although the pandemic delayed some concerts, he’s excited to resume touring.
“We have such a good time on stage. I feel like we’ve been let out of prison,” he says.
He takes time for his family. His daughter, McKenna Medley, is on tour with him. Medley’s friends once again gather around him, now that he’s single.
“I’m a one-trick pony. Singing has been my life,” he says.
The audience will be treated to musical classics, taking fans back in time with feel-good music.
“I love to sing. I’m 81, and to be able to come on the road and perform to an audience who was raised on this music is wonderful,” he says. “I hope the audience gets as much joy as I do.” ♦