Gary: I look back to the early 60’s, or maybe closer to the middle. Anyways, Soul Music was big in Toronto and I just loved it; Otis, Wilson, Sam & Dave, and the list goes on…
Locally, there was a group called “George Oliver & Gangbuster” and they played at the Club Bluenote on Pears Ave. (I use them as an example because of the next Duo I will look at.) George is still playing today and I was able to find a recent video, so I hope you enjoy. He was and is one of my favourite local entertainers.
George Oliver and Gangbuster:
A lot of the Soul music I will talk about was done by White Artists, so the name “Blue Eyed Soul” caught on. I guess the biggest duo in this area would have been …
Bill Medley (9/19/40) & Bobby Hatfield (8/10/40 – 11/5/2003)
The Righteous Brothers
All videos are “Live” from Gary’s favourite TV program “Shindig”. Just look and listen to the Band.
1. Little Latin Lupe Lu/ Moonglow 215/ 1963/
2. My Babe/ Moonglow 213/ 1963
3. You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling/ Philles 124/ December 1964/ #1 (2)
4. Just Once in My Life/ Philles 127/ April 1965/ #9
5. Unchained Melody/ Philles 129/ July 1965/ #4
6. Hung On You/ Philles 129/ August 1965/ #22 CHUM Chart
7. Ebb Tide/ Philles 130/ December 1965/ #5
8. (You’re My) Soul and Inspiration/ Verve 10383/ March 1966/ #1 (3)
9. He/ Verve 10406/ June 1966/ #18
10. Go Ahead and Cry/ Verve 10430/ August 1966/ #30
11. Rock and Roll Heaven/ Haven 7002/ June 1974/ #3
12. Give it to the People/ Haven 7004/ October 1974/ #20
Note: Unchained Melody was released in 1990 for the Movie “Ghost” and was a #1 Adult Contemporary Hit Again, on Verve. It was then re-recorded in October 1990 and reached #19.
They weren’t sibling brothers, but Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield (both born in 1940) were most definitely righteous, defining (and perhaps even inspiring) the term “blue-eyed soul” in the mid-’60s. The white Southern California duo were an established journeyman doo wop/R&B act before an association with Phil Spector produced one of the most memorable hits of the 1960s, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin‘.” The collaboration soon fell apart, though, and while the singers had some other excellent hit singles in a similar style, they proved unable to sustain their momentum after just a year or two at the top.
When Medley and Hatfield combined forces in 1962, they emerged from regional groups the Paramours and the Variations; in fact, they kept the Paramours billing for their first single. By 1963, they were calling themselves the Righteous Brothers, Medley taking the low parts with his smoky baritone, Hatfield taking the higher tenor and falsetto lines. For the next couple of years they did quite a few energetic R&B tunes on the Moonglow label that bore similarity to the gospel/soul/rock style of Ray Charles, copping their greatest success with “Little Latin Lupe Lu“, which became a garage-band favorite covered by Mitch Ryder, the Kingsmen, and others.
Even on the Moonglow recordings, Bill Medley acted as producer and principal songwriter, but the duo wouldn’t break out nationally until they put themselves at the services of Phil Spector. Spector gave the Wall of Sound treatment to “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’“, a grandiose ballad penned by himself, Barry Mann, and Cynthia Weil. At nearly four minutes, the song was pushing the limits of what could be played on radio in the mid-’60s, and some listeners thought they were hearing a 45 single played at 33 rpm due to Medley’s low, blurry lead vocal. No matter; the song had a power that couldn’t be denied, and went all the way to number one.
The Righteous Brothers had three more big hits in 1965 on Phil Spector’s Philles label (“Just Once in My Life“, “Unchained Melody“, and “Ebb Tide“), all employing similar dense orchestral arrangements and swelling vocal crescendos. Yet the Righteous Brothers-Spector partnership wasn’t a smooth one, and by 1966 the duo had left Philles for a more lucrative deal with Verve.
Medley, already an experienced hand in the producer’s booth, reclaimed the producer’s chair, and the Righteous Brothers had another #1 hit with their first Verve outing, “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration“. Its success must have been a particularly bitter blow for Spector, given that Medley successfully emulated the Wall of Sound orchestral ambience of the Righteous Brothers’ Philles singles down to the smallest detail, even employing the same Mann-Weil writing team that had contributed to “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’“.
It’s a bit of a mystery as to why the Righteous Brothers never came close to duplicating that success during the rest of their tenure at Verve. But they would only have a couple of other Top 40 hits in the 1960s (“He” and “Go Ahead and Cry“, both in 1966), even with the aid of occasional compositions by the formidable Goffin-King team.
In 1968 Medley left for a solo career; Hatfield, the less talented of the pair (at least from a songwriting and production standpoint), kept the Righteous Brothers going with Jimmy Walker (who had been in the Knickerbockers).
Medley had a couple of small hits in the late ’60s as a solo act, but unsurprisingly neither “brother” was worth half as much on their own as they were together.
In 1974 they reunited and had a number three hit with “Rock and Roll Heaven“, a tribute to dead rock stars that some people found tacky. A couple of smaller hits followed before Medley retired from performing for five years in 1976.
The Righteous Brothers continued to tour the oldies circuit off and on in the 1980s and 1990s. It was while on one of these tours that Bobby Hatfield died suddenly on November 5, 2003. -Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide
Bobby Hatfield was found dead in his hotel room in Kalamazoo, Michigan on November 5, 2003, half an hour before he was due to perform a concert with Bill Medley at Western Michigan University’s Miller Auditorium. The cause of his death was attributed to cocaine and not simply, as first suspected, heart failure, according to the autopsy report.