Airdate – Jan 23, 2022
If you are going to have a conversation on blue-eyed soul from the 60s, you would be remiss if you did not talk about the impact that the Righteous Brothers had.
Their prior careers and how they met is a story in itself.
Certainly able to hold their own as soloists, Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield were dynamic as a duo thanks to their contrasting vocal ranges, producing a distinctive sound that many have referred to as ‘captivating.’
Like all of us, you got to start somewhere. And that somewhere for these two singers takes us back to the early 60s.
Born in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, Bobby Hatfield moved with his parents to Anaheim, California when he was four years old. It was there that Hatfield started out singing in a group known as the Variations. Ironically, it was with that group that Hatfield first sang the classic standards, “Ebb Tide” and “Unchained Melody.”
During the same period, Los Angeles-born Medley was with a group out of Santa Ana, California called the Paramours.
Thanks to the encouragement of Barry Rillera, a member of Medley’s band who had also been in Hatfield’s group, Medley and Hatfield ended up seeing each other perform. When a member of the Paramours left, Hatfield took his place.
The Paramours soon signed with ‘Moonglow’, a small recording label. Unfortunately, things did not pan out and the group disbanded leaving Medley and Hatfield on their own.
They began performing as a duo and, according to Medley, they got their name from the audience during a performance for the Marines at the El Toro Marine base. Per Medley, the black Marines would shout out, “That was righteous, brothers.” The rest is history.
During their time with the Paramours, one of songs they recorded is worth a mention. Foreshadowing what we would experience from the Righteous Brothers a few years later, here is a rare 1963 recording by Bobby Hatfield & The Paramours with Bill Medley on bass that should have been a hit. It’s a soulful ballad proclaiming “I Need A Girl,” this week’s Tom Locke moment in time.
YouTube video of this song: