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If There's a Rock and Roll Heaven...

Bobby Hatfield 1940-2003

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A screencapture of Hatfield in the 60s.

A screencapture of Hatfield in the 60s.

Righteous Brothers Discography

The story goes that when legendary producer Phil Spector first devised an arrangement for "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," Righteous Brother Bobby Hatfield was dismayed to find that his fellow brother Bill Medley was going to handle thedramatic middlesection alone. "Where do I go?"asked Hatfield. Spector shot back, "To the bank."

That story is emblematic of the Brothers' history, and not only because it illustrated the duo's sometimes strained relationship with Spector. Bobby Hatfield's high and glorious voice,equally adept at tenor and falsetto, was indeed an amazing instrument, but it wasn't a natural marvel on the order of Medley's baritone. This was mainly because the brothers (not really brothers, of course, but certainly righteous) were white. Imagine a Caucasian duo made up ofRoy Orbison and Elvis - bothsound incredible, but one sounds like he's transcending his cultural background. Guess which was more interesting to the public of 1963, still a verysegregated group.

Thisisn't to say that Bill was a better singer than Bobby. Certainly you're splitting hairs when you compare the two finest "blue-eyed soul" vocalists of their generation. But that very title, coined for the two, illustrates just how important Medley's voice was to the equation. The Righteous Brothers hated the label, and rightly so, for it's unnecessarily restrictive; although it's an accomplishment to move against the natural tendencies of your enviroment, the duo could hold its own against any orchestral pop singers and a great deal of their brown-eyed contemporaries. Hatfield's death, while premature, may yet serve a greater purpose: we may have to reconsider just how much he brought to the equation. All pigments aside.

Here are links to sites that cover Bobby Hatfield's life, career, and death. I'll be adding more as they become available. Please bookmark this page for future developments and feel free to e-mail meif there's a link I should know about.

  • CNNThe details of Hatfield's passing and a good brief bio of his accomplishments. Includes video.
  • LaunchEven more detail on Bobby's death and a more extensive, personal bio on the man.
  • Channel 3000The coroner's report confirms that Hatfield died of a heart attack.
  • Yahoo! NewsA thorough report on the memorial service, at which Bill Medley performed.
  • RighteousBrothers.comThe official website for the duo.This link contains excerpts from the memorial service.
  • Legacy.com The Righteous Brothers request you sign the Hatfield online guestbook at this generic tribute site.
  • Righteous Brothers DiscographyIt simply isn't possible to create a better RB discography than at this fan page. Contains separate sections forBobby's solo work.
  • Righteous Brothers Fan ForumThis fan site's beendefunct for at least two years, but the old info's still here, and it's impressive, including sheet music, fan photos, personal recollections, and more.
  • TV TomeThis section of the TV info site lists Hatfield's appearances on the tube.

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