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Rock And Roll Heaven

by

The Righteous Brothers



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This talks about numerous music stars who died too young. First verse: "Jimi gave us rainbows" is Jimi Hendrix. "Janis took a piece of our hearts" is Janis Joplin. "Otis took us all to the dock of the bay" is Otis Redding. "Remember Jim that way" is Jim Morrison. Second verse: "Jimmy touched us with that song" is Jim Croce. "Bobby gave us 'Mack the Knife'" is Bobby Darin.
The Righteous Brothers broke up in 1969 to pursue solo careers, but re-united and recorded this, which was a surprise hit. (thanks, Cynthia - Ottawa, Canada, for above 2)
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Comments (24):

Yes, Bill Medley does perform this song with the added tribute to Bobby Hatfield, singing the line "if there's a rock'n'roll heaven, then Bobby's got a hell of a band" as the tag line. During the '90s, the lyrics were updated to include several artists to have passed away in more recent years--Cass Elliott, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and several others.
- Jean, Owensboro, KY
To Mike in Lansing, I remember that being played on WVIC 95.7 FM by Danny " The Zipper Zapper" Stewart in the mid 70's
- Kirby, Kerrville, TX
The best song of 1974, imo.
- PAUL, Detroit, MI
I got ahold of a radio station promo copy of this in the mid 70'(WVIC Lansing, MI)that had parts of the artist's songs (usually the intro/1st verse/chorus)dubbed in after the line in the song mentioning them. i.e. Jimi(Foxey Lady), Janis(Piece of my Heart), Jim Morrison(Light My Fire), Jim Croce(Leroy Brown), Bobby Darin(Mack the Knife). I've never heard it since. Wish i'd kept that record. It was pretty cool. Anyone else remember this?
- mike, lansing, MI
The reason Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Bopper were not mentioned was twofold:

1. There had been tribute songs to them, Three Stars by Tommy Dee, Carol Kaye and the Teen Aires, released a month or so after they died. Also, the death of Buddy Holly had been dissected over and over in Don Mc Lean's late 1971/early 1972 hit 'Amereican Pie.

2. The singers mentioned in Rock and Roll Heaven had died within 3 or 4 years of the songs's release in May of 1974, and therefore were more "contemporary".

Also, in 1961 Tex Ritter released a song "I Dreamed of a Hillbilly Heaven", which paid tribute to deceased Country and Western singers at the time. Dolly Parton remade the song updating it to name singers who had died after the Ritter song.
- Patrick, Shelton, CT
A good song, but please note it wasn't written by either of the Righteous Brothers, it was written by ALAN O'DAY and JOHNNY STEVENSON. It was recorded by several other artists. The updated version was put out in 1992.
- Tim, Bovey, MN
It wouldn't be just "rock and roll". We don't know what the afterlife is like for dead pop stars if there really is a music section for country, rock, R&B, blues, soul. I have never heard this song but the phrase is often used to describe a dead a pop star.
- Sara, Silver Spring, MD
Bobby Hatfield made his way up there about five years ago.
Prior to his demise;John Lennon;George Harrison;Stevie Ray Vaughan;Marvin Gaye;
Elvis;Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins made their way there!!
Also,the same year he died,Johnny Cash and June Carter entered R&R Heaven,then Bo Diddley went there as well!!
So they definitely got a Helluva Band!!
- John, Mansfield, TX
Jennifer: I know what you're saying but when you look at the figures, most of the best guitar players died at ages other than 27 or are not dead at all. Only a few out of hundreds died at 27.
- Kristian, Perth, Australia
Is it just me or does someone else think this song sounds like the Stylistics Rock'Roll Baby or does Rock'Roll Baby sounds like this song?
- George, Sarnia, ON
Have there been any religious theories regarding this song? I know it's about dead rock guys but does everyone believe there's rock music in the afterlife? I mean how can a dead soul play a rock song? Bobby Darin was more jazz than rock.
- Sara, Silver Spring, MD
I wonder if Bill Medley still performs this song. If so, he should write a verse mentioning Bobby Hatfield.
- Farrah, Elon, NC
I had always thought that the line "If you believe in forever, then our gig is just a one-night stand" was "If you believe in forever, then life is just a one-night stand"...to me it sounds more appropriate considering the song is dedicated to young singers that have passed on...??
- Erik, Sydenham, Canada
so what is it refering to when it says "Jimi gave us rainbows"?
- Michael, Grand Junction, CO
There is an updated version from the early 90s that mentions John Lennon, Cass Elliot, Marvin Gaye, Elvis, and several others. It's the same tune and chorus, but it's just not the same as the original
- Tammy, Atlanta, GA
I have to agree with Robert's posting. It has been 32 years since this song first came out. Not only Bobby Hatfield, but we have lost John Lennon, George Harrison, David Ruffin and many more. If Bill Medley still does this song in his act, he should write, or have someone write for him, one or two more verses to honor these rock and roll greats.
- Jerry, Brooklyn, NY
An outstanding tribute to recording stars who died young such as jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Bobby Darin. It also reestablished The Righteous Brothers as a recording act. "There's a spotlight waiting. No matter who you are."
- Howard, St. Louis Park, MN
Yes, Stefanie. I believe you're referring to Don McLean's "American Pie."
- Robin, Birmingham, AL
I wonder why they didnn't mension Buddy Holly, and all of those people that died in that plain crash in that song. Y'all know which plain crash I'm talking about, right?
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
Yes Jennifer... not all of them but some of them. Robert Johnson was one of the first ones that that happened to. Well... maybe not one of the first. Some people however, think that his death cursed rock n roll foreverk, because after that a lot of rock stars died at young ages.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
Ever notice that a lot of famous "J's" died early? Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Jim Croce, John Lennon, Jim Morrison, John Bonham, Keith Moon,(oh, that's a "K"),....food for thought.
- Roger, Bristol, TN
Has anyone ever noticed that all the best guitar players died when they were 27?
- Jennifer Prather, Newcomb, TN
i read a short stroy by stephen king that talked about all the dead rock stars livin ina twlight zone esque town somewhere between heaven and hell jim mrrison, elvis etc.
- jason, wylie, TX
Bobby Hatfield just died this year (2003), he was a talented singer that will be missed He should be added to the list of those playing in that great big band in the sky.
- Robert, Topeka, KS
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