Righteous Bros’ Hatfield Dies – Rolling Stone
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Righteous Bros’ Hatfield Dies

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer was sixty-three

Bobby Hatfield, one half of the legendary blue-eyed soul duo the
Righteous Brothers, was found dead yesterday in a hotel room in
Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was sixty-three. Hatfield and partner Bill
Medley were on the road doing what they’ve been doing for more than
forty years: singing their hits for adoring fans.

The Righteous Brothers formed in Southern California in 1962 and
are best known for their monster singles “You’ve Lost That Lovin’
Feelin’,” the most played song in the history of radio, and
“Unchained Melody,” which charted upon its release in 1965 and
again in 1990 thanks to its use in the movie Ghost. The
duo was elected into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in
February.

With their sandy-haired good looks, the Righteous Brothers
resembled members of the Beach Boys, but when their voices hit the
airwaves listeners thought they were black — hence, their being
the very inspiration for the term “blue-eyed soul.” Unlike the
smooth pop crooners before them, Medley and Hatfield took their
vocal cues from black artists like Little Richard, Ray Charles and
Fats Domino. Their soulful vocals along with the arrangements of
Phil Spector, who produced most of the group’s hits, accounted for
the Righteous Brothers’ rich sound.

Bobby Hatfield, born in Wisconsin and raised in Southern
California, had the misfortune of being “the other Righteous
Brother,” something he played up comically, most notably during his
1991 cameo on the sitcom Cheers. But while the deep-voiced
Medley wooed the world with “Lovin’ Feelin’,” Hatfield scored his
own blockbuster with the soaring “Unchained Melody.”

“It was a ballad that I always dug, and I went in there and I am
pretty darn sure that I knocked it off in one take,” Hatfield told
Rolling Stone earlier this year. “It was the B side of a
Carole King/Gerry Goffin song ‘Hung on You,’ and all of a sudden
the disc jockeys flipped it over and I had an accidental hit. It
was kind of cool because Bill was singing lead on all of the songs
then, so it was like, ‘Wow, who’s that little shit with the high
voice?'”

The Righteous Brothers continued to tour diligently in recent
years, playing more than 100 shows annually, and they did not tire
of performing their hits. “These songs are great songs,” Hatfield
said. “We’re working because we love to work . . . It took a long
time to really comprehend what our music meant to so many people.
[People tell us,] ‘Unchained Melody’ was our wedding song!’
Actually for some people it was their grandparents’ wedding song —
and that’s where it gets a little scary.”

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