A version of my article originally ran in the December/January issue of Riverside Magazine.
As half of the Righteous Brothers, Bill Medley famously reached those low bass vocal notes on 1964 chart topper “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”, the most played radio song of all time.
Over the next two years, they’d notch half a dozen more top 40 singles, including “Unchained Melody” and “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration,” then return in ’74 with another major hit, “Rock and Roll Heaven.”
Medley has continued to tour and release solo albums in the intervening decades. An inaugural UK live appearance at London’s Wembley Arena came last month.
The Southern California native and blue-eyed soul singer just put his first new effort in six years, Your Heart is Mine: Dedicated to the Blues. It features solid covers of the classics “Pledging My Love,” “A Change is Gonna Come,” “This Magic Moment,” “Your Precious Love,” “Hold On, I’m Comin’” and more.
For Medley’s Dec. 28 show at the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside, Calif., fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love serves as opening act.
One of several female subjects of the acclaimed, 2013 Sundance Festival-screened music documentary 20 Feet from Stardom about backing singers, she was an integral part of Wall of Sound producer Phil Spector’s girl group stable in the ‘60s and sang lead on such hits as “He’s a Rebel,” “(Today I Met) The Boy I’m Gonna Marry,” “He’s Sure the Boy I Love” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”
Love also did studio session work for Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Dionne Warwick and others and acted in the Lethal Weapon movies. I saw 20 Feet from Stardom and highly recommend it.
In advance of the concert, here are some things you might not know about Medley...
> During the ‘60s, The Righteous Brothers opened shows for The Beatles and Rolling Stones; Medley was a friend of Elvis Presley and they often performed simultaneously in the same Las Vegas casinos.
> “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” his No. 1 duet with Jennifer Warnes from 1987 film “Dirty Dancing,” was a Triple Crown winner (Grammy, Golden Globe, Oscar).
> Medley delved into country music in the mid-1980s and had six singles chart, the biggest being “I Still Do” (#17). He also guested on Kenny Rogers’ LP, “The Gambler.”
> Besides singing the TV theme song to 1988-90 ABC sitcom “Just the Ten of Us,” Medley appeared in the two-part episode “Finally” on “Cheers” in 1990.
> His other guest vocal credits include Sonny & Cher, The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz and ex-Smashing Pumpkins member Jimmy Chamberlin.
> The Righteous Brothers name was inspired by an African American serviceman who watched Medley and late musical partner Bobby Hatfield perform at the old El Toro Marine Base, then exclaimed, “that was righteous, brothers!”
> Although Phil Spector took credit, “Unchained Melody” was actually produced by Medley and initially a B-side single.
> Medley has owned or played a part in operating former SoCal nightclubs The Hop and OC Pavilion.
> The Black-Eyed Peas did an interpolation of “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” in their hit 2010 song "The Time (Dirty Bit)."