Bill Medley is still Righteous
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame kicked off the Hall of Fame Induction week with a performance by 2003
Inductee, Bill Medley at the Hard Rock Rocksino on April 11th. The show started with a video montage of many of the Righteous Brothers and Mr. Medley’s solo songs that were used in classic movies such as Top Gun, The Last Boy Scout, Ghost and of course, Dirty Dancing.
The near-capacity crowd was already applauding without Bill or the band even being on stage. Those clips let the audience know that the evening was going to be a trip down memory lane.
Bill Medley is an old school performer who puts on a show unlike many artists today. He is one part singer, one part story teller, one part musician and one part stand-up comedian. He has command of the stage and flawlessly interacts with the audience. His deep baritone was on point for most of the evening, although the seventy-four year old did miss a couple of notes throughout the ninety-minute set.
Bill entered the stage singing Sam and Dave’s classic “Hold On, I’m Coming.” Wearing a black three- piece suit, he then went right into the number one hit (You’re My) Soul and Inspiration and a condensed version of “Rock N Roll Heaven”which was dedicated to his long-time partner and other Righteous Brother, Bobby Hatfield, who passed away 12 years ago.
In a touching tribute to his Hatfield, he played a video montage of Bobby while he sang “Unchained Melody”. He said that this was his favorite part of the show because this gave him the chance to share the stage with his long time friend for just a few more minutes.
He then played a tribute to Ray Charles by playing a medley of country classics that Ray recorded in the 1960’s. Songs such as “Born to Lose”, “You Don’t Know Me”, and “I Can’t Stop Loving You” got the deep-voice treatment.
Part of his show is self-depreciating humor; many jokes were told about being old. He relayed how often his back and knees hurt and how he sometimes forgets things; I’m sure many in the audience could relate!
He also said that he was happy to be back in Cleveland, the home of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. He said that the Righteous Brothers were inducted with Elvis, which got a big round of applause. He then said it was Elvis Costello, not Presley. But hey, it’s still an Elvis.
Mckenna, Medley’s 28 year old daughter, was introduced before she sang Jennifer Warners’ part in the hit “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” She did a bang-up job and remained on stage as a backup singer, eventually taking center stage to belt out Etta James’signature tune “At Last.”
Although a place on her father’s stage may have started due to a little nepotism, this girl has some strong pipes.
Medley said that Rock and Roll has three essential components: country, blues and gospel. He then proceeded to play a song from each genre. From there he segued right into early Rock and Roll, which he called the
True Rock and Roll.The history lesson commenced with tunes by Little Richard, Elvis, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Guitarist Larry Hanson got to showcase his skills on Medley’s song “This Will Be The Last Time”. The audience got to hear some fancy fret work on this extended blues number.
As the show was winding down, there actually was a fan in the front row who requested “Brown Eyed Lady”. Bill asked if he had enough time to play it, and got the okay to do it. You don’t see audience requests played that often, unless you’re at a Springsteen show. Normally when a band gets a request, it’s from a drunken fan screaming
“Freebird!,” no matter who’s onstage.
Finally, Bill played the song everyone came to hear. The Righteous Brothers’ first number onehit in 1964, and according to BMI, the most played song on American radio, “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”. That song has been played over 10 million times and just this year it was inducted into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. Bill remarked that, in his 74 years, it’s the only library he’s ever entered.