The Righteous Brothers were the musical duo of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield. They recorded from 1963 through 1975, and continued to perform until Hatfield's death in 2003. Their beautifully blended vocals were sometimes dubbed "blue-eyed soul".
Medley and Hatfield both possessed exceptional vocal talent, with range, control and tone that helped them create a strong and distinctive duet sound and also to perform as soloists. Medley sang the low parts with his deep, soulful bass, with Hatfield taking the higher register vocals with his soaring tenor.
They adopted their name in 1962 while performing together in the Los Angeles area as part of a five-member group called The Paramours. At the end of one particular performance, a Marine in the audience shouted, "That was righteous, brothers!" Prompting the pair to adopt the name when they embarked on a career as a duo.
Their first major hit single was "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" in 1965. Produced by Phil Spector, the record is often cited as one of the peak expressions of Spector's Wall of Sound production techniques. It was one of the most successful pop singles of its time, despite exceeding the then standard length for radio play. Indeed, according to BMI, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" remains the most played song in radio history, estimated to have been broadcast more than eight million times. Spector used Cher as a backup singer on this and other recordings.
The Righteous Brothers had several other Spector-produced hit singles in 1965, including "Just Once in My Life", "Ebb Tide" and "Unchained Melody". However, the singers did not get along well with Spector personally and their contract was sold on to Verve/MGM Records in 1965. Their next release in 1966, "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration" was a Phil Spector sound-alike song, produced by Bill Medley, who was able to fully simulate the Spector style of production.
It was written by Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann who had co-written "Loving Feeling" with Spector. Medley also used the same arranger, Jack Nitzsche. It quickly became their second #1 US hit, staying
on the top for three weeks.
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...