Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS, The
White soul vocal duo formed in 1962: Bobby Hatfield had a soaring gospel-style voice (b 10 Aug. '40, Beaver Dam WI; d 5 Nov. 2003, Kalamazoo MI); Bill Medley sang bass (b 19 Sep. '40, Santa Ana CA). Signed by Moonglow Records as the Paramours, their sound dubbed 'blue-eyed soul' and 'righteous' by black fans; they changed their name and had minor hits (dance-craze 'Little Latin Lupe Lu' made top 50). Spotted by UK enterpreneur Jack Good they appeared on Britain's Shindig TV show, were signed by Phil Spector to his Philles label back home and had a no. 1 USA/UK with 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' ' in 1964, co-written by Spector, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, one of the most fondly remembered hits of the era. The formula was repeated with 'Just Once In My Life' (top ten USA); they then switched to doo-wop styled 'Unchained Melody', 'Ebb Tide' (both top 5); switched to Verve label for '(You Are My) Soul And Inspiration' (no. 1 USA, 15 UK); album of same title also included top 20 'He'. Six LPs on Verve included Standards '68 on which they each sang a side; they split that year. Hatfield recruited Jimmy Walker as a bogus brother for Verve LP Re-birth '70; Medley went solo for five MGM LPs (two reached top 200 LPs USA), two each on A&M and Liberty through '80. They reunited '74-5 on the Haven label and had a surprise necrological hit 'Rock And Roll Heaven' (no. 3 '74). With 21 Hot 100 singles '63-74 and three top ten LPs (two on Philles, one on Verve) they deserved credit for blue-eyed soul, but spent their beautiful voices on mostly mediocre material. Hatfield died in his sleep just as they were about to embark on a tour.