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Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Rock and Roll Heaven on Wikipedia
"Rock and Roll Heaven"
Single by Climax
GenreRock and roll
LabelRocky Road
Writer(s)Alan O'Day, Johnny Stevenson
Producer(s)Larry Cox

"Rock and Roll Heaven" is song written by Alan O'Day and Johnny Stevenson and popularized by The Righteous Brothers. It is a paean to several deceased singers such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Otis Redding, and has been rewritten a number of times to include other singers. The song was first recorded by the band Climax in 1973,[1] but it failed to chart. It was then covered by The Righteous Brothers in 1974 and reached number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.[2][3]


  • 1 The Righteous Brothers version
    • 1.1 Musicians and songs mentioned in Righteous Brothers version
  • 2 In popular culture
  • 3 Chart performance
    • 3.1 Weekly singles charts
    • 3.2 Year-end charts
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

The Righteous Brothers version

"Rock and Roll Heaven"
Rock and Roll Heaven - Righteous Brothers.jpg
Single by The Righteous Brothers
from the album Give It to the People
B-side"I Just Wanna Be Me"
ReleasedMay 1974 (May 1974)
  • Alan O'Day
  • Johnny Stevenson
Producer(s)Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter
The Righteous Brothers singles chronology

The Righteous Brothers recorded "Rock and Roll Heaven" a few weeks after they decided to reform the duo in 1974. They signed with Haven Records run by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter and were given the song to record. Lambert and Potter rewrote a verse, updating the song to include Jim Croce and Bobby Darin who had died within three months of each other in late 1973.[4] According to Bill Medley, they were dubious about the song because they didn't think the song had the "old Righteous Brothers feel".[5] Nevertheless, it became a hit for them and quickly reached Number three on Billboard Hot 100. In Canada it spent three weeks at number four.[6]

Musicians and songs mentioned in Righteous Brothers version

  • "Jimi gave us rainbows" refers to Rainbow Bridge by Jimi Hendrix.
  • "Janis took a piece of our hearts" refers to the recording of "Piece of My Heart" by Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin.
  • "Otis brought us all to the dock of a bay" refers to "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding.
  • "Sing a song to light my fire, remember Jim that way" refers to "Light My Fire" by The Doors which featured Jim Morrison.
  • "Remember bad bad Leroy Brown, Hey Jimmy touched us with that song" refers to "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" by Jim Croce.
  • "Bobby gave us Mack the Knife" refers to Bobby Darin's recording of "Mack the Knife".

The lyrics involving Jim Croce and Bobby Darin replaced Climax's lyrics for Buddy Holly ("Peggy Sue") and Ritchie Valens ("Donna"), both of whom died in a plane crash that had already been commemorated by another hit song, Don McLean's "American Pie."

Also, in 1981, when the Righteous Brothers appeared for a one song reunion on American Bandstand, they performed "Rock and Roll Heaven", and made it longer including new lyrics as tributes to Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and Keith Moon.

It was rewritten with new lyrics in 1991 to mourn the passing of Elvis Presley (Love Me Tender), John Lennon (Give Peace a Chance), Roy Orbison (Oh, Pretty Woman), Jackie Wilson (Higher and Higher), Ricky Nelson (Lonesome Town), Dennis Wilson (Good Vibrations), Marvin Gaye (What's Going On), Sam Cooke (Wonderful World), Cass Elliot (Monday, Monday) who died a few months after the original version of the song was released, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The rewritten song is included in compilation albums such as Reunion.[7]

In popular culture

A line from the lyrics of the song is used as the title for Stephen King's short story "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band", set in a town called Rock and Roll Heaven.[8]


  1. ^ "One hell of a hit now knocking at the gate". Billboard Magazine. July 14, 1973. 
  2. ^ "Bobby Hatfield Dies at 63; Righteous Brothers Tenor". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-10-08. 
  3. ^ "The Righteous Brothers - Rock And Roll Heaven (Vinyl) at Discogs". 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2016-10-08. 
  4. ^ Prato, Greg (15 June 2014). "Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers". 
  5. ^ Bill Medley (April 24, 2014). The Time of My Life: A Righteous Brother's Memoir. Da Capo Press. p. 102. ISBN 978-0306823169. 
  6. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 2016-10-08. 
  7. ^ "Righteous Brothers Reunion". Amazon. 
  8. ^ Stephen J. Spignesi (August 1, 2003). The Essential Stephen King. Career Press. pp. 271–273. ISBN 978-1564147103. 
  9. ^ a b Steffen Hung. "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Retrieved 2016-10-08. 
  10. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5072a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  11. ^ "The Righteous Brothers – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for The Righteous Brothers.
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 3893a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  14. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1974/Top 100 Songs of 1974". Retrieved 2016-10-08. 
  15. ^ [2]

External links

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