Have you heard of the “Wall of Sound.” It was a recording technique that was made famous by Phil Spector in the early Sixties which he used for most of the recordings he produced. Most music critics agree that “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” is probably the best expression of Spector’s “Wall of Sound.” It’s hard to describe in words, but when you listen to a Phil Spector record, you know immediately what you are hearing.
The Righteous Brothers are Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield. Bill Medley was born in 1940 in Santa Ana, California. He grew up singing in the church choir and enjoying the music of black artists. He especially liked Little Richard and Ray Charles. When he sang, he tried to emulate them. Bobby Hatfield was also born in 1940 in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. When he was four, his family moved to Anaheim, California. He had a passion for music most of his life. He met Bill Medley while attending California State University in Long Beach and they struck up a friendship.
They began singing together in 1962, calling themselves The Paramours. They were performing together in a club in Santa Ana, California called John’s Black Derby when a black Marine was in the audience and yelled out, “That was righteous, brother.” Every time the Marine came in the club he would greet them with, “Hey, righteous brothers, how you doin’?” Since their career was going nowhere as the Paramours, they decided to change their name to The Righteous Brothers.
Phil Spector saw them sing when he was at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California. He was there because one of his acts, The Ronettes, were also performing. He liked what he heard and started talks about getting them to join the Philles Record label. The Righteous Brothers were the first white act to singed by Spector. Even though Phil Spector was white, so far, he had signed only black artists. Since they were white singers who sang like black singers, they called their music “blue eyes soul.”
Spector asked one of his in-house writing teams, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil to write a song for the guys and they came up with “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” This song became the most played song on American radio and television for the entire Twentieth Century. The Righteous Brothers would go on to have a great career, putting twelve songs into the Top 40 and having another number one in 1966, “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration.” As late as 1990, they hit the charts with a remake of their class “Unchained Melody.”
Bill Medley is still alive, as far as I know, and today is 77 years old. Bobby Hatfield died in 2003 in Kalamazoo, Michigan just before The Righteous Brothers were to perform. It was said that he died of an overdose of cocaine which caused a heart attack. He would have been 63 when he died.
“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” debuted on the pop charts on December 26, 1964 and on February 6, 1965, hit number one where it stayed for two weeks. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” also hit the Top 40 by two other artists. Dionne Warwick hit number 16 with the song in 1969 and Hall and Oates reached number twelve in 1980.