The Righteous Brothers were a fantastic duet of our time, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who grew up listening to their music. “Unchained Melody” will always be one of my personal favourites because it’s such an iconic song!
Bill Medley, one-half of the Righteous Brothers, is one of the finest singers of all time in my opinion – it’s astounding what he’s accomplished considering the horrific tragedy he went through in the 1970s.
It would take 40 years for the mystery surrounding his first wife’s murder to be solved, owing to modern technology that the killer most certainly did not foresee…
Bill Medley, the iconic performer and member of the Righteous Brothers with the deep voice, was born in 1940 with music in his blood.
The Santa Ana, California native began singing in a church choir when he was quite young. Bill’s parents had a swing band, thus music was always there in his life. He grew up listening to great artists such as Little Richard, Ray Charles, and B.B. King, as did many others born in the early 1940s.
“There was a lot of quartet stuff going on back then, the great black groups like the Orioles and the Cadillacs, but man, Little Richard just stopped my clock.” I was maybe fifteen or sixteen at the time, and it simply triggered something in me. “Man, I’d love to do that,” I said. But you’re not supposed to do that as a fifteen-year-old white child. “Then I got into Ray Charles when I was about eighteen,” Bill told Rolling Stone in 2014.
They were known as The Romancers. Bill began writing songs while the duo sang harmonies. In many ways, Bill began at the bottom before rising to international prominence.
Long before it was a thing, he “invented” multi-track recording in his living room and knocked on doors to sell his tunes to more established music groups.
Bill’s tenacity and bravery paid off, and at the age of 19, he was able to sell a couple songs recorded by the popular group The Diamonds.
Medley and Fiduccia went on to form The Paramours with some other vocalists in the early 1960s. The band signed with a record label and had minor success.
However, when Bill met his singing partner Bobby Hatfield, their lives were permanently changed. In 1963, they changed their name to The Righteous Brothers and began playing as a pair. It didn’t take long for famed music producer Phil Spector to find them.
“The Righteous Brothers began their career in Orange County, California.” It was about the whitest location in the country, but black marines from a nearby base heard two guys singing rhythm and blues and came down to hear us. “They’d yell out, ‘That’s righteous, brother!’ at the end of our songs, and that’s how we got our name,” Bill recounted.
Bill, a bass-baritone, and Bobby, a high tenor, were a natural mix, and Spector recognised their talent right away. But they needed a hit to get their career started. So, in 1964, Spector commissioned Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil to write a song for them, and they delivered a masterpiece that would go on to become the most-played song in American radio history: You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.
“I was singing rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm & blues with Bobby.” Phil Spector wanted to produce us and asked Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil to compose a song for us, which they did with ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’. And I’ve told Barry Mann and Cynthia countless times that you didn’t just write a hit single for us; you authored our lives.
They wrote us a resume. You never know what’s going to happen next. “You have to take it as it comes, realise it’s a blessing, and keep going,” Bill told Hollywood Soapbox.
Following the success of You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield recorded Unchained Melody.
The song was created in 1955, but the Righteous Brothers’ version turned it into a jukebox classic, reaching fourth place on the Billboard Hot 100 list following its release in 1965. The song remained on the charts for eight months, establishing the Righteous Brothers as one of the greatest duos of all time.
Karen remarried after divorcing Bill Medley and took the surname Klaas. Her life was tragically cut short.
Karen had no idea that a stranger was following her. He came in through the back door, which Karen always left open.
Karen decided to have breakfast with three of her closest girlfriends that morning. Her companions observed Karen enter the house and assumed she would return in a few minutes. Karen, on the other hand, never showed up.
A strange-looking man had been observed in the vicinity earlier that week, which was one of the reasons her friends were so concerned so fast.
After a while, her friends began calling Karen’s house to check on her, but no one answered. They soon realised that something dreadful had occurred. They heard whimpering as they reached Karen’s house. Karen was barely alive when the girls hurried inside the house and discovered her on the floor.
Karen was brought to the hospital after someone attempted to strangle her with her own bra. Unfortunately, there was little the physicians could do because her brain had been severely damaged by the lack of oxygen for 15 minutes. Doctors removed her from life support four days after the violent attack.
Bill told People, “She was one of my best friends.”
“I was a shambles. It was an out-of-body experience — ‘I can’t believe I’m here looking at caskets for Karen,’ she said. It simply didn’t make sense. She was stunning, vibrant, and a nice lady.”
Bill was filled with despair and resentment following the horrible encounter. But he had to concentrate on his son, who was saddened by his mother’s death.
“I took some time off to rebuild Darrin’s life,” Medley explained. “I took six years off to help him get back on his feet.”
Bill was desperate to find the murderer. Unfortunately, the murderer had immediately vanished from the scene, and the police inquiry produced little results.
Karen Klaas’ murder would go unsolved for nearly 41 years, making it the Hermosa Beach area’s longest-running cold case. According to CBS Los Angeles, some people suspected Karen’s new husband, but police quickly ruled him out as a suspect.