headerbg copy

Bill Medley: Still Living the Righteous Life

Bill Medley and McKenna Medley
Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn


Bill Medley and daughter McKenna

This coming November 3, Righteous Brother Bobby Hatfield will have been gone 10 years. Now the surviving half of that duo will be facing the curtain – happily, the one on stage at the South Point – August 20-31, displaying that he hasn’t lost that “lovin’ feeling” for what he does or for his beloved late singing partner.

These days, Medley is enjoying a Righteously more peaceful existence, dividing his time between his home in Branson, Missouri, nestled in the Ozarks and his home in Newport Beach, California, while performing more than 50 one-nighters a year as well as arranging music for his daughter McKenna’s album and writing music for one of his own. He had been performing 30 weeks a year in Branson until things slowed up drastically because of the economy.

“I love doing one-nighters although I don’t enjoy the traveling,” Medley, who will be 73 on September 19, says. “I love to perform – that’s why I moved to Branson. On stage, I feel 25. I worked more here in Branson than Bobby and I ever worked. The longer I’m offstage, the more I feel 73. Now, my daughter McKenna travels with me and performs with me in the show. That’s another reason for my staying active. Any day you can be with your children is a good day.

“Bobby is always there, however,” he adds. “I go through a place where I really miss him and his being here. I miss the fact that he’s not here on earth and, of course, I miss him on stage, too. I can be on stage singing some of the Righteous Brothers songs and it hits me good. And I m miss how crazy and nutty he was .He’d start it – he’d make things up -- and I’d join in and we’d be off and running at the mouth ad-lib. There was never stuff written for us. When we were on stage, it was like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Take away Jerry Lewis and all that energy is gone. Now it’s like Dean without Jerry – It’s still funny but more about the music. The audience is my partner now and it’s a different dynamic. But, where Bobby’s concerned, I’m getting to a point where the good is the only thing that lingers. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years.”

It was back in November 2003, just about seven months after having achieved their long-awaited induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, that Medley’s dear friend and partner of 42 years unceremoniously died in a hotel room in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where the act was on tour. 

“I had known that Bobby was not well,” Medley recalls. “So did our guitar player, Barry Rillera, who was also our tour manager. “Bobby couldn’t even walk across the stage without being winded and after, the show, he was totally wiped – it took him an hour to recover. The minute he’d come off stage, there was a chair for him to sit down. I’d stay with him and talk for about two minutes. Then he’d get up and go into the green room and sit on the arm of a chair for another two minutes and we’d talk, Then he’d have enough energy to get up and go into his dressing room.

“About three or four months before he died, I saw that he was so very thin and fragile,” he continues. “I sat down and put my arm around him and told him that he had to go to a doctor. He looked up at me and said, ‘Do you have one?’ Bobby never went to the doctor. His wife, Linda, swore to me that he was going to see a doctor when we got back from tour. But he never had the chance. We were opening in Kalamazoo and it was about 7 p.m. and Bobby wasn’t down yet.  They went upstairs to get him and he didn’t answer the door, which was locked from the inside, so they broke in. Bobby was dead – they think he had died around 6 a.m. that day – and he was propped up with a pillow on the bed where he had been watching TV. He was still holding the clicker in his hand. He lived until he died – and he did it his way.”

Hatfield’s death, the result of two arteries to his heart being 95 percent blocked, was a crushing blow for Medley.  Although they had split up twice during their career – once in 1968 when the music scene changed and again in 1976 when Medley’s ex-wife Karen was brutally murdered and he retired for five years to raise then 10-year-old Darrin (who is now the lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders(), Medley explains that they still saw each other a lot and that their relationship had always been very deep, born out of their shared experiences.

“We went through some remarkable things together,” Medley acknowledges. “.Our relationship as friends and partners was very deep. We went to battle together. Neither of us was comfortable with confrontation so even though one might have wanted to do something one way and one another way, we never bumped heads. After Bobby’s death, I continued to perform because we had contracts that had to be fulfilled. Even though I had always done solo engagements throughout our career, it was very odd and difficult for me to be on stage without him. I went back to work too soon. I should have taken a year off. Even when Bobby and I split up those times, I always knew that he was there waiting in the wings. I no longer had the luxury of that – it was over and the finality of that was and still is so weird. My mind is in a totally different space.”

“We were so hooked at the hip that when Bobby died, I figured I was right behind him – it would have been the natural thing,” he adds. “Although there are about 15-20 negatives I can name concerning his passing, the worst is that I just miss Bob, as a guy, as my friend. And while working with my kids has softened the blow a lot, it is not totally fulfilling because I spent such a huge part of my life being Bobby’s partner.”

Sadly, Hatfield’s wife, Linda, also passed a way a few years ago but Medley is still very close to their two children, As for the future, Medley says that he just wants to keep performing, admitting that he is in a calmer place now and not looking to be the next big thing anymore. Calling himself a blues singer who got lucky with some great songs, including “Lovin’Feeling,”  “Unchained Melody,” and “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life,” he has recently been asked to do an album of country standards with his bluesy voice and he has also written eight songs for a new CD and has four more to go.

“I just want to keep on performing and live my life to the fullest and stay close to my family,” Medley reveals.”You only have one time around the Christmas tree and you want to get all the  presents you can.”

Totally Righteous, for sure.

Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

We're Multilingual!

English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish

Artistry by Bobbilynn

Lic Cosmetologist
Hair Extension Specialist
Formal Wedding Styling
Wig & Vintage Styling
Keratin Treatments
Balayage Highlights
Color & Haircuts