Bill Medley with McKenna Medley
August 29-31, 2014 • 7:30pm
Tickets are $55/$50/$45
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When Bobby Hatfield passed away in November 2003, it was a fearsome blow to Bill Medley, who co-founded The Righteous Brothers in 1962. Medley had lost a friend, a business partner and - most of all - a singing partner with whom he'd been associated since his late-teens. Some observers may have expected him to walk away from music. If so, they simply didn't know Bill. "I love to perform, I love to be on stage," Medley says. "I just feel so alive when I'm sharin' with the audience." In fact, it's not unexpected that Medley would turn to music to help him navigate the next segment of his life; music has been there from the beginning.
Born in Los Angeles and raised in Orange County's Santa Ana, Medley always had a passion for music, but he sort of stumbled upon it as a career after he quit school at age 16. His father led a big band and played saxophone, his mother played piano and sang. Naturally, Medley gravitated to glee club and amateur singing contests during his youth, but it wasn't until he heard the music of Ray Charles that the idea of making music for a living coalesced. "When I heard Ray Charles, it wasn't so much that I wanted to do that," he reflects. "It was that I needed to do that."
Medley taught himself to play piano, which led to writing songs, and he figured songwriting-rather than performing-would be his key to a career in music. But when he peddled his songs to other singers and musicians, they invariably declined to do them. "They would hear me sing, and say, 'What about you?' That was basically why I became a singer." Medley formed a local group called The Paramours, and was introduced to Hatfield, who led The Variations. But one night they put their voices together, and the result was magic. "We just started singin' these rhythm & blues duets, and it was just absolutely instant," Medley recalls. "Never had to rehearse it. He knew 'em, I knew 'em-'I'll sing this note, you sing on top,' and that was it. The instant we sang together, it was like one voice."
Their partnership lasted four decades, though Medley explored his solo options apart from the duo on occasion. He went on his own in the late-'60s for six years. In 1976, following the death of his wife, he pulled back from the music business to raise his son, eventually doing another solo stint in the early-'80s. Plus, he demonstrated his versatility by joining forces with another duet partner, Jennifer Warnes, on the chart-topping song from "Dirty Dancing," "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life," which came up a winner at the Grammys, the Oscars and the Golden Globes.