Fredericksburg will be celebrating big hearts with big voices and one of the all-time biggest names in music this Saturday.
This one is a “mark it on the calendar; don’t miss out; once in a lifetime”-type deal.
Because on Saturday, the Righteous Brothers are coming to Fredericksburg to play a concert in support of Loisann’s Hope House—an organization dedicated to finding homes for the region’s homeless children and families.
Yes, you read that correctly: The great songs like “Unchained Melody,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,’ ” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” “Rock ’n’ Roll Heaven” and so many more, will be performed onstage at Dodd Auditorium on the University of Mary Washington campus.
Appropriately enough, this Righteous Brothers performance is called the Concert of Hope.
“I was told about it when they asked if we would do the show,” said Bill Medley, the legendary bass voice of the Righteous Brothers. “They told me all about [Hope House], and I said, ‘Yeah, count us in.’ ”
Medley, 79, is the surviving half of the acclaimed duo. Bobby Hatfield, the equally distinctive tenor, died in 2003.
For a long while after that—roughly a decade— it seemed like the magic of the Righteous Brothers would never be seen or heard again. However, Medley struck up a personal and musical friendship with singer Bucky Heard, and decided the songs could have new life—and realized fans’ desire to hear his songs was still ardent.
“We’re gonna do all the hit records, that’s for sure,” said Medley. “The audience is gonna find out what a great singer Bucky Heard is. And we have a lot of fun. We joke around, but we take the songs extremely seriously.”
The Righteous Brothers is one of those groups deserving of the term “legendary.” They’re in the Rock and Roll and Grammy Award Hall of Fame, and their distinctive vocal harmonies have even been given their own category: blue-eyed soul.
Medley knows that these songs mean a lot to a lot of people. He knows people want to relive memories of special moments.
“When Bobby and I were real big, a lot of the attention was on Bob and Bill and the hit records. Today, I think a lot of the attention is on the songs that these people were raised on.”
That Medley, born in 1940, is still onstage and loving it is remarkable. In fact, during the interview with Weekender, he was waiting for a call to tell him he was a great-grandfather.
What’s the secret to his energy and continued success?
“I’ll tell you what you do, man, is you just keep doing what you love to do,” he said. “Retirement is only somebody walking away from a job that they had to do for 40 or 50 years, but if you have a job that you love, keep doing it.”
At the same time, he admits, some folks have a job they can’t wait to leave. In that case, the next step needs to be finding a great hobby—anything that keeps one happy and active.
Interestingly, though, it’s not just retirees or folks from his generation that are coming to see the Righteous Brothers. Medley notes that millions of new and younger fans discovered the songs through iconic moments in now-classic movies.
“I would say [the audiences] are heavier on the people that were raised on our music, but also we had, at the end of the 1980s, you know, ‘Lovin’ Feelin’ was in ‘Top Gun,’ and ‘Time of My Life’ was in ‘Dirty Dancing,’ ” he said. “And then they had ‘Unchained Melody,’ which was in ‘Ghost’—which all really made the Righteous Brothers hotter than ever. So we’re getting people that were from the end of the ’80s, because of those movies, and the people that were raised on it.”
Most of all, Medley wants fans coming to the concert this weekend to know that they’ll see and hear the songs they love—and they’ll have a great time.
Medley, who was in Las Vegas at interview time, comes from an era when a larger-than-life stage show was simply mandatory.
In that vein, the band playing with the two singers is big (he describes the musicians as “incredible”) and three female backing singers join the duo.
But the main thing is the audience of all ages will hear the songs that they grew up with, or that their parents grew up with.
“A lot of the people at the show, I’ll say, ‘Wow, you’re awfully young to be here,’ and they’ll say my mom and dad played your music all day long in our house and we just love it.”
Bill Medley has definitely not lost that loving feeling.