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This was the theme song to Rocky IV
, starring Sylvester Stallone. Survivor wrote "Eye Of The Tiger
," which was the theme to Rocky III
, and Stallone was thrilled with the result.
Frankie Sullivan and Jim Peterik were Survivor's primary songwriters. When they wrote "Eye Of The Tiger," Stallone sent them clips from the movie to use for inspiration. When Stallone asked them to write for Rocky IV, he sent them scripts from the movie. Survivor was touring with REO Speedwagon at the time. Says Peterik:
"As soon as the delivery came, I remember taking my copy to the pool of our hotel and reading the whole thing in one sitting. I had my notebook open, scribbling down ideas, impressions, catch phrases and concepts as I read. The story had the added dimension of international intrigue with Rocky being pitted against a giant Russian boxer. I soon realized that this battle was about more than just two fighters in a ring, but about the whole struggle between the ideologies of two rival nations. That became my focus as the lyric took shape. Rocky, once again, had to prove to himself and to the world that he had what it took to be champion. I remember pulling the phrase, 'It's you against you' from the dialogue for use in the song. The first line of the song tells the story: 'Two worlds collide, rival nations, it's a primitive clash, venting years of frustration.' Over the next few days we would have the road crew set up our portable Wurlitzer electric piano, an amp and guitar in a separate hotel room so we could work during the day. As usual the music appeared simultaneously with the snippets of lyrics I was coming up with. A few cities down the road we had about 80 percent of the song done."
Peterik: "Stallone was there with a lot of suggestions. He knew what he didn't want, because 'Burning Heart' originally had the hook title of 'The Unmistakable Fire.' He goes, 'You can't call the song The Unmistakable Fire.' I think it was Frankie who said, 'At the beginning of the chorus, instead of 'In the human heart just about to burst,' let's say 'In the burning heart.'' I was avoiding that because there was already a song called 'Burning Heart' by Vandenberg and also, I always got a vision of heartburn. I decided I was thinking too much and we called the song 'Burning Heart.' Stallone was good with knowing what he liked and what he didn't like."
Peterik is a member of The Ides Of March, and he wrote their 1970 hit "Vehicle." Survivor had a hard time creaing the explosion in the song, and after trying a few session keyboard players, they summoned Dave Arellano, who Peterik played with in The Ides Of March. Says Peterik:
"Since Dave is blind, I picked he and his reams of keyboard equipment up in my rented car and brought him across town to the studio. After much experimentation we found the perfect sound and added it after every 'In The Burning Heart.' I believe on that same day Frankie added his classic lead work over the track. After the song was mixed and sent the verdict came back: 'You got it right!'" (Thanks to Jim for speaking with us about this song. In addition to his work with Survivor and The Ides Of March, Jim has also written hit songs for .38 Special and is author of the book Songwriting For Dummies
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