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Bill Medley
Bill Medley in 2012.JPG
Medley in 2012 at The Big E, West Springfield, Massachusetts
Background information
Birth name William Thomas Medley
Born (1940-09-19) September 19, 1940 (age 83)
Santa Ana, California, U.S.
Origin Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres Blue-eyed soul
Occupation(s)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
Years active 1962–present
Labels United Artists, RCA Records, Reprise Records

William Thomas Medley (born September 19, 1940) is an American singer best known as one-half of The Righteous Brothers. He is noted for his bass-baritone voice, exemplified in songs such as "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'". Medley produced a number of the duo's songs, including "Unchained Melody" and "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration".

Medley is also a solo artist. His million-selling No. 1 duet with Jennifer Warnes, "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" (1987), won a number of awards.

Early life

Medley was born September 19, 1940 in Santa Ana, California to Arnol and Irma Medley. He attended Santa Ana High School, graduating in 1958. Raised a Presbyterian, he sang in the church choir, and his parents had a swing band. He became interested in R&B music through listening to black-oriented radio stations. An early influence he has cited is Little Richard, who he first heard when he was fifteen or sixteen years old, and later Ray Charles, Bobby "Blue" Bland, and B.B. King.

Medley first formed a singing duo called The Romancers with his friend Don Fiduccia, who also played the guitar. He began to write songs and record multi-track recordings in his living room. At 19, he had two songs, "Womaling" and "Chimes of My Heart," recorded by vocal group The Diamonds. Medley and Fiduccia then formed a group called The Paramours in 1960, with Sal Fasulo and Nick Tuturro, later joined by Mike Rider and Barry Rillera. The band had its first paying gig at Little Italy restaurant in Anaheim, California. The Paramours were signed to Mercury Records' subsidiary label Smash Records, releasing such songs as "That's the Way We Love" and "Miss Social Climber" in 1961.

The Righteous Brothers

TheRighteousBrothersperformingKBF
The Righteous Brothers performing at Knott's Berry Farm with Medley on the right

Medley first met his singing partner Bobby Hatfield through Barry Rillera who was in both Hatfield's and Medley's band (The Variations and the aforementioned Paramours, respectively) and asked them to see each other's shows. In 1962 they formed a new group, but kept the name The Paramours, which included saxophonist John Wimber, who went on to found The Vineyard Church movement. They performed at The Black Derby nightclub in Santa Ana, and released the single "There She Goes (She's Walking Away)" in December 1962 through independent record label Moonglow. However, the band did not have much success and soon broke up, leaving Hatfield and Medley to perform as a duo in 1963.

Medley and Hatfield adopted the name The Righteous Brothers, and their first single was the Medley-penned "Little Latin Lupe Lu," released through Moonglow Records. Medley also recorded as a solo artist with Moonglow, releasing the single "Gotta Tell You How I Feel," which did not chart.

In 1964, The Righteous Brothers appeared in a show with other groups at The Cow Palace in San Francisco, where Phil Spector was conducting the band for the entire show. Spector was impressed by the duo, and arranged to have them record for his label Philles Records.

In 1965 they had their first No. 1 hit, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", produced by Spector. According to music-publishing watchdog Broadcast Music, Inc., "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" is the most-played song in the history of American radio.

They recorded other songs such as "Unchained Melody" with Philles Records, as well. Medley, who had produced the duo before they signed with Spector and Philles, was the actual producer on many tracks and B-sides credited to Spector, including "Unchained Melody," which was originally only intended to be an album track. On singles such as "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" and "Just Once in My Life," the vocals were concentrated mainly on Medley, but on a few singles, such as "Unchained Melody" and "Ebb Tide," Hatfield performed solo.

The duo left Spector in 1966 to sign with Verve Records, where they had a hit with "Soul and Inspiration", but broke up in 1968 when Medley left to pursue his own career. Medley was performing three shows a night in Las Vegas; according to Medley, he found it too much of a strain on his voice singing solo, and lost his voice for a while. Under advice, he sought out Hatfield to reform The Righteous Brothers in 1974.

They signed with Haven Records, and quickly recorded "Rock and Roll Heaven," which became a hit. In 1976, Medley decided to quit music for some time after the death of his first wife. He reunited with Hatfield in 1981 for the 30th-anniversary special of American Bandstand, where they performed an updated version of "Rock and Roll Heaven." Although Medley focused his attention on his solo career in the 1980s, they continued to appear together as a duo.

After a resurgence in popularity in 1990s due to the use of "Unchained Melody" in the film Ghost, they toured extensively as a duo until Hatfield's death in November 2003. The Righteous Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2003 by Billy Joel.

In January 2016, Medley announced that he would revive The Righteous Brothers for the first time since 2003, partnering with new singer Bucky Heard.

Career outside The Righteous Brothers

Medley has also had a moderately successful solo career. In 1968, Medley first recorded "I Can't Make It Alone" written by Carole King, but the song failed to make much of an impact. The following singles, "Brown Eyed Woman" written by Mann and Weil, and "Peace, Brother, Peace" both performed better, and were Top 40 pop hits. In 1969 he won second place at the Festival Internacional da Canção (FIC) in Rio de Janeiro with the song "Evie" by Jimmy Webb. Medley performed "Hey Jude" at the 1969 Grammy Awards, and was then signed to A&M Records, which released a number of his records. One of his recordings, "Freedom and Fear" from Michel Colombier's album Wings, was nominated for a Grammy in 1972.

Medley released several solo albums during the 1970s and 1980s. He enjoyed a resurgence in his career in the 1980s. He released the album Sweet Thunder in 1980, containing a version of "Don't Know Much," which was originally written and performed by Barry Mann the same year. He signed with Planet Records in 1982 and later with RCA Records. In 1984 and 1985 he charted five singles on the country charts, the biggest of these being the Top 20 country hit "I Still Do," which also crossed over to the Adult Contemporary chart, and later became a cult hit with the Carolina Beach/Shag dance-club circuit. One of Medley's minor entries, "All I Need to Know", was later recorded as "Don't Know Much" by Grammy-winning duet Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville; this was a long-running No. 2 Hot 100 and No. 1 Adult Contemporary hit in 1989–90.

In 1987, Medley's duet with Jennifer Warnes, "(I've Had) The Time of My Life", was included on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, and the single reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The song won Medley and Warnes a 1988 Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the composers.

Among Medley's other notable songs are "Most of All You", the closing theme to the movie Major League; "Friday Night's a Great Night for Football" from Tony Scott's movie The Last Boy Scout; and the theme song for the Growing Pains spinoff Just the Ten of Us. He also collaborated with Giorgio Moroder and scored a moderate UK hit in 1988 with a version of "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother". Medley lensed a video for the song which was also used over the closing credits for the film Rambo III.

In 1985, Medley and Hatfield opened The Hop, a rock & roll-themed nightclub, in Orange County, California.

Medley appeared in the two-part episode "Finally!" of the hit television show, Cheers. In 1998 Medley, along with Jennifer Warnes, sang "Show Me the Light" over the closing credits of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie. He also recorded a vocal track for the song Lullabye on Jimmy Chamberlin's (of Smashing Pumpkins fame) solo album, Life Begins Again.

Recent work

Through the mid to late 2000s, Medley performed mainly in Branson, Missouri, at Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater, Andy Williams' Moon River Theater, and The Starlite Theatre. Later Medley also began touring with his daughter McKenna and her 3-Bottle Band. On November 24, 2013, he performed in concert for the first time in the UK at Wembley Arena.

Medley wrote a memoir entitled The Time of My Life: A Righteous Brother's Memoir. The book was published in 2014.

Personal life

Medley met his first wife, Karen O'Grady, in church; they started dating in 1963 and were married at the beginning of his music career. Their son, Darrin, was born in 1965 but they were divorced when Darrin was about five years old. Medley married Suzi Robertson in 1970, then Janice Gorham, but each marriage was soon annulled. He was a close friend of Elvis Presley.

..... The murder had not been solved and Medley employed a private investigator in an effort to track down the killer. On January 27, 2017, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced that investigators used a new DNA testing method to solve the decades-old murder. .....

Medley married Paula Vasu in 1986. The couple had a daughter, McKenna. McKenna is also a singer; she has performed with Medley as his duetting partner on "(I've Had) The Time of My Life". Paula died of Parkinson's disease on June 8, 2020.

In May 2020, Medley underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his throat.

Awards and nominations

Medley was nominated for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist in the 1972 Grammy Awards for his recording of "Freedom and Fear", a track from Michel Colombier's album Wings.

In 1988, Medley received a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for his duet with Jennifer Warnes on "(I've Had) The Time of My Life".

Discography

Albums

Year Album Peak chart
positions
Label
US
US Country
1968 Bill Medley 100% 188 MGM
1969 Soft and Soulful 152
1970 Gone A&M
1970 Someone Is Standing Outside
1971 A Song for You
1973 Smile
1978 Lay a Little Lovin' on Me United Artists
1981 Sweet Thunder Liberty
1982 Right Here and Now Planet
1984 I Still Do 58 RCA
1985 Still Hung Up on You
1988 The Best of Bill Medley MCA/Curb
1993 Going Home Essential
2007 ... Near Righteous Westlake
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Singles

Year Single Peak chart positions Album
US
US
AC
US Country
CAN
CAN AC
CAN Country
AUS
UK
1968 "I Can't Make It Alone" 95 63 Bill Medley 100%
"Brown Eyed Woman" 43 36
"Peace Brother Peace" 48 46 Soft and Soulful
1969 "This Is a Love Song" 112 Non-album single
1979 "Statue of a Fool" 91 Lay a Little Lovin' on Me
1981 "Don't Know Much" 88 29 Sweet Thunder
1982 "Right Here and Now" 58 31 Right Here and Now
1984 "Til Your Memory's Gone" 28 20 I Still Do
"I Still Do" 25 17 22
"I've Always Got the Heart to Sing the Blues" 26 41
1985 "Is There Anything I Can Do" 47 46 Still Hung Up on You
"Women in Love" 55
1986 "Loving on Borrowed Time" (with Gladys Knight) 16 Cobra (soundtrack)
1987 "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" (with Jennifer Warnes) 1 1 1 3 1 6 Dirty Dancing (soundtrack)
1988 "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" 49 87 25 Rambo III (soundtrack)
1989 "I'm Gonna Be Strong" 114 Non-album single
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

See also

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