Han’s Worst Hits of the 70’s- again visits one of the worst years for music in the 60’s-70’s era- 1974. The song- “Rock and Roll Heaven” by The Righteous Brothers. I like The Righteous Brothers- on the shortlist of greatest singles ever- “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” has to be included. But this is garbage. The first clue to the problem is one of the writers of the song. Does the name Alan O’Day ring a bell? O’Day would have one hit later on in 1977- Undercover Angel” which went to #1- drivel. O’Day is one of those rare artists who wrote a #1 for himself- and for someone else- in 1974 [ I told you it was a bad year} he wrote a #1 for Helen Reddy- the creepy “Angie Baby.”
Rock and Roll Heaven was first recorded by Climax in 1973 and it went nowhere on the charts. The Righteous Brothers had just reunited when they decided to give this song a go. The Righteous Brothers themselves had doubts about this song. First off it just didn’t have the usual feel of a Righteous Brothers song. But it would be a comeback hit for them going to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. They would update the song to include the newly deceased Jim Croce and Bobby Darin. To add Croce and Darin they dropped references to Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. Part of the problem with the song is it mentions six dead musicians- and out of all the dead rock stars at this point- three of the six are named Jim. Musicians mentioned- Jimi Hendrix ‘ Jimi gave us rainbows”, Janis “took a piece of our hearts.”, Otis ” brought us to the dock of the bay.” “Sing a song to light my fire, remember Jim that way”, “remember bad bad Leroy Brown, Hey Jimmy touched us with that song” “Bobby gave us Mack The Knife”- what crap lines.
In 1981 on American Bandstand- not to let a bad song die- they sang and updated version that added John Lennon, Elvis and Keith Moon to the mix and in 1991 clearly out of any ideas at this point they dug up the corpse again with new lyrics dragging Roy Orbison, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Rick Nelson, Dennis Wilson, Marvin Gaye, Cass Elliott and Stevie Ray Vahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SW4tRBalFLQughan into it.
Note–One of the producers of this song is Dennis Lambert. He would later go on to produce a similar song by post Lionel Richie Commodores- “Nightshift. Thanks Dennis.