The Righteous Brothers were the musical duo of Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley. They recorded from 1963 through 1975 and continued to perform until Hatfield’s death in 2003. Their emotive vocal stylings were sometimes dubbed “blue-eyed soul”.
Hatfield and Medley 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 baritone, with Hatfield taking the higher register vocals with his soaring countertenor.
They adopted their name in 1962 while performing together in the Los Angeles area as part of a five-member group called The Paramours, which featured John Wimber (a founder of the Vineyard Movement) on keyboards and artist and sculptor Nick Turturro on saxophone. At the end of one performance, a U.S. Marine in the audience shouted, “That was righteous, brothers!”, prompting the pair to adopt the name as they embarked on their duo career.
John Wimber (then Johnny Wimber) brought Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley together for the band The Paramours in 1962. The Righteous Brothers started their recording career on the small Moonglow label in 1963 with two albums and two moderate hits: “Little Latin Lupe Lu” and “My Babe”.
Their first major hit single was “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'”, their first release on the Philles label 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'” was the most played song on American radio and television in the 20th century, estimated to have been broadcast more than eight million times. Spector used Cher (of Sonny & Cher fame) as a backing singer on this and other recordings.