Righteous Brother Bill Medley will share stories with Park City
As the Righteous Brothers, singers Bill Medley and the late Bobby Hatfield toured with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and became friends with Elvis Presley.
Medley will talk about these experiences and more when he performs at the Egyptian Theatre this weekend.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer will present An Intimate Evening with Bill Medley, which will not only include his stories, but also a string of his hit songs including "Unchained Melody," "You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’" and "Soul and Inspiration," as well as some more recent works such as "(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life," which he recorded with Jennifer Warnes in 1987.
"It will be kind of the history of the Righteous Brothers and Bill Medley," he said during a telephone call to The Park Record from Newport Beach, Calif. "There will be a lot of storytelling and I also sing some songs."
Many of the stories Medley will tell appear in his book, "The Time of My Life: a Righteous Brother’s Memoir," which was published last April.
Medley started thinking about writing a book when Hatfield passed away in 2003. Medley’s friends and family members told him to write all of his stories down, so they would have a history and record of his musical career.
"I started it but I got bored," Medley said with a laugh. "So I kind of put it away."
The book idea was resurrected six years ago during one of Medley’s shows in Branson, Missouri.
"I began talking about the Righteous Brothers and how we were able to record ‘Lovin’ Feelin,’" he said. "When I went out to go sign autographs, people told me how much they loved to hear the stories."
Then a year ago, author Mike Marino called Medley and proposed to co-write a memoir with him.
"I said to come over and put a tape recorder down, because I wanted whatever was going to be in the book to come from my mouth," Medley said. "I told him that we’d do one chapter and if I liked it, we’d go forth from there."
Medley had a great experience and the two worked on the book for six months.
"It was like going to the shrink every day," Medley said wryly. "Parts of it were difficult to talk about, but 90 percent of the book were stories about what had happened over the years."
A couple of the challenging topics that Medley confronted during the writing included the time he mysteriously lost his voice in 1974.
"I was told I would never sing again," Medley said.
It took nearly 10 years before Medley would get his voice back, but during that time, he faced another tragedy, the rape and murder of his ex-wife Karen Klass in 1976.
To date, the case has still not been solved.
"Some of those things were a little tough to get to," Medley said. "But Mike did a great job and he’s a musician and psychologist, and when I would tell him things, he would ask me how I felt about them and I would have to go a little deeper than I thought I would have to."
Marino will be part of the upcoming show and will appear onstage and ask Medley questions throughout the night about the history of the songs and his career.
One of the topics will be the legacy of Medley’s music.
"It’s interesting and kind of sounds like I’m talking about somebody else when I talk about my career," Medley said. "When you’re in the middle of it and doing the tour with the Beatles, which was the first American Beatles tour, and then we did the Rolling Stones’ first American tour, you just do it.
"Afterwards, lifting my head up 53 years later and going back to talking about everything was pretty remarkable," he said. "I would ask myself if I really experienced all that or was I just lying. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lying."
Medley still doesn’t know what drew him to rhythm and blues, instead of rock ‘n’ roll.
"My mom and dad had a band, a swing band, and in 1955, when I heard Little Richard, I knew I would have to either get into Frank Sinatra or Little Richard," Medley said "All I know is when I heard Little Richard for the first time, I knew I could get into him.
"The music just went to my soul and my heart," he said. "I would buy the records and listen to them. I wouldn’t try to sing to them. I was just obsessed with it."
the time Medley reached his 20s, he was immersed into the blues of B.B. King and Ray Charles.
"I could relate to the pain and emotion," Medley said. "Pop music at that time just didn’t have the guts, you know, that I loved about rhythm & blues."
When Medley and Hatfield began working together as the Righteous Brothers, they would go out and sing the music they wanted to sing.
"We never overthought anything, and I’m not sure we thought about anything," Medley chuckled. "The first three years, we had some West Coast hits that were all rhythm & blues, but when we recorded "Lovin’ Feelin,’" that song took us into another vein."
The Righteous Brothers’ popularity resurged in the 1980s when their songs
"You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’" and "Unchained Melody" were respectively featured in hit films "Top Gun" (1986) and "Ghost" (1990).
Medley also recorded an additional No. 1 tune, "(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life" with Jennifer Warnes for the 1987 film "Dirty Dancing."
"Those brought us back to the Letter A, you know," Medley said. "You couldn’t have planned it out better. To think our songs would be in the three biggest movies of the decade.
"We didn’t even know they were going to put the songs in ‘Top Gun’ and ‘Ghost,’ and then ‘Dirty Dancing’ became the monster I never thought it would be," he said.
In 2003, a few months before Hatfield’s death, the Righteous Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Since then, Medley has performed diligently as a solo artist and he attributes his audience for the inspiration.
"When you go out and sing ‘When you close your eyes,’ you can see their eyes light up," he said. "They go back to when they were 25 years old and I do, too. It’s magical.
"I’m thrilled to come to Park City," he said. "It’s a short flight and I know some people up there and I will stay for a few days."
The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will present the Righteous Brothers’ Bill Medley on Friday, June 27, and Saturday, June 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $49 to $85 and are available by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.
A Park Record intern spent three weeks in New York City thanks to a Columbia University program.
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