Vegas headliners The Righteous Brothers take their soulful harmonies online
The Righteous Brothers, who immortalized such songs as “Unchained Melody” and “Ebb Tide,” became the first Las Vegas Strip headlining act to take their show online this month when Bill Medley and Bucky Heard, who have been starring at the Harrah’s Showroom since 2016, launched a special series of livestream shows from popular off-Strip venue The Space. The unique musical productions continue Sept. 23 and 30 (tickets available at thespacelv.com). Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Medley, who turned 80 this week, took some time to get us up to speed on this exciting new endeavor, another interesting phase of his legendary career.
The pandemic has changed so many things for so many people. I’m sure you never thought you’d be doing pay-per-view livestream shows from Las Vegas in 2020.
This is all brand new to me, but it’s a different day and all performers, everybody is just trying to reinvent themselves in some way to stay busy and stay active. This is the longest I’ve been out of work in 60 years. It’s really tough. These are the strangest times. It will be interesting, once this is all over, what kind of reality we get back to. I’m sure it will be different for a while and then hopefully everybody will get back to normal and want to come to Vegas and see shows.
You have been very busy preparing this new kind of show, which you and your singing partner Bucky Heard turned around very quickly after connecting with the people at The Space.
It did come together quickly, but everything Bucky and I have done since we reformed the Righteous Brothers about four and a half years ago has been that way. We just see something we want to do and how we want to do it and just go for it. I’m kind of a trigger puller, which is probably a good and bad thing. It’s a lot to take on but we’re excited about these shows.
You’re bringing in some special guests and incorporating a lot of behind-the-scenes storytelling as well. Why is that important to you?
I’ve been really fortunate to have this pretty incredible life and history and got to know a lot of wonderful people and do a lot of wonderful things, so it’s fun to tell those stories. But more importantly, I’ve been finding out in the last few years that people really love the music and want to hear the music, but they really want to know what you were thinking when you recorded those songs, or how you got to that song and what you were going through. Frank Sinatra brought Bobby (Hatfield) and I to Vegas for the first time in 1965 at the Sands hotel. Elvis Presley was a good friend. And we went on the first American tour with the Beatles and the first Rolling Stones tour. There are just a million things I think people love to hear about.
You have a long history of performing in Las Vegas as a solo act, too. What was it like to transition from that segment of your career to becoming a duo again with Bucky at Harrah’s?
It was a lot easier and more comfortable than I thought it would be because Bucky is such a pro, such a wonderful guy and a great singer. He’s a hard-working kid. Obviously I had years and years of being with Bobby, and it really wasn’t all that different being onstage with Bucky and performing as the Righteous Brothers. It was a little like going home. Being on my own as Bill Medley was a little tougher. You’re up there by yourself, which is fine, but I guess over the years I got so accustomed to having a partner and bouncing things off someone, and getting back to that felt really good.
I’m sure you’re both very anxious to get back onstage.
One of the main reasons we reformed was because we had that offer to come to Vegas for what started as a three-month engagement. It just worked out and it was pretty amazing, and it’s such a great showroom. We love it. It’s not too fancy, it’s just kind of a soulful place and the crew there is phenomenal. We are thrilled to have the opportunity.
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