Bill Medley facts: Righteous Brothers singer's age, wife, children, songs and career explained

16 August 2023, 17:35

Bill Medley in 1977
Bill Medley in 1977. Picture: Getty

By Tom Owen

Bill Medley is a legendary singer and songwriter who rose to fame as one half of the blue-eyed soul duo The Righteous Brothers.

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His distinctive bass-baritone voice and his ability to produce and write songs made him a musical icon.

Bill Medley is best known for his timeless hits such as 'You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'', 'Unchained Melody', '(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration', and '(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life'.

  1. How old is Bill Medley?

    Bill Medley was born on September 19, 1940 in Santa Ana, California. He celebrated his 82nd birthday in 2022.

    His parents were Arnold and Irma Medley.

    He was raised as a Presbyterian, and sang in the church choir. His parents had a swing band, and he became interested in R&B music through listening to black-oriented radio stations.

    He was influenced by singers such as Little Richard, Ray Charles, Bobby 'Blue' Bland, and BB King.

  2. When did he form the Righteous Brothers?

    Righteous Brothers in 1965
    Righteous Brothers in 1965. Picture: Getty

    Bill Medley met his singing partner Bobby Hatfield in a band called The Paramours, which was formed by saxophonist John Wimber, who later founded The Vineyard Church movement.

    They started singing as a duo in 1962, and adopted the name The Righteous Brothers. They had their first hit with the song 'Little Latin Lupe Lu', which was written by Medley and released through Moonglow Records.

    They became famous for their blue-eyed soul style, which blended pop and soul music. They worked with producer Phil Spector, who created the 'Wall of Sound' technique for their songs.

    They were called the Righteous Brothers because of a compliment they received from a black audience member at a club in California.

    According to Bill Medley, one of the singers, after they finished a song, a black US Marine in the audience shouted, “That was righteous, brothers!” and greeted them with "Hey righteous brothers, how you doing?". They liked the name and decided to use it for their duo.

    Bobby Hatfield died on November 5, 2003 at the age of 63. He was found dead in his hotel room in Michigan, half an hour before he was supposed to perform with Bill Medley. The cause of death was later determined to be a cocaine overdose that triggered a heart attack.

  3. What are Bill Medley's most famous songs?

    Bill Medley, Jennifer Warnes - (I've Had) The Time Of My Life (Official HD Video)

    Some of his most famous songs are:

    • '(I've Had) The Time of My Life' (with Jennifer Warnes): This is a duet that was featured in the movie Dirty Dancing in 1987. It won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
    • 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'' (with Bobby Hatfield): This is a song that was produced by Phil Spector and written by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, and Spector. It was recorded by The Righteous Brothers and released in 1964. It is considered one of the most successful pop songs of all time, having been covered by many artists.
    • 'Unchained Melody' (with Bobby Hatfield): This is a song that was written by Alex North and Hy Zaret for the 1955 movie Unchained. It was recorded by The Righteous Brothers in 1965 and produced by Phil Spector. It became a huge hit, topping the UK chart. It was also featured in the movie Ghost in 1990, becoming that year's best-selling single.

    The Righteous Brothers - You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' (1964) 4K

    • '(You're My) Soul and Inspiration' (with Bobby Hatfield): This is a song that was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and recorded by The Righteous Brothers in 1966. It was their first single after leaving Phil Spector's label and starting their own production company.
    • 'Brown Eyed Woman': This is a song that was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and recorded by Bill Medley as a solo artist in 1968. It was his first solo hit, reaching No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
  4. How many times has Bill Medley been married and how many children does he have?

    Bill Medley and first wife Karen with son Darrin in 1966
    Bill Medley and first wife Karen with son Darrin in 1966. Picture: Getty

    His first wife was Karen O’Grady, whom he met in church and married in 1964. They had a son named Darrin, who was born in 1965. They divorced when Darrin was about five years old. Sadly, Karen was murdered in 1976. It wasn't until 2017 that her killer was discovered.

    His second wife was Suzi Robertson, whom he married in 1970. They divorced in 1972.

    His third wife was Janice Gorham, whom he married in 1981. Their marriage was annulled in 1982.

    His fourth wife was Paula J. Vasu, whom he married in 1986. They have a daughter named McKenna, who was born in 1990. Paula died of Parkinson's disease on June 8, 2020.

    Bill Medley and his daughter McKenna in 2007
    Bill Medley and his daughter McKenna in 2007. Picture: Alamy