Few Rock groups have used soundtracks as a career path but they played a large part in Survivor's story.
Multi-instrumentalist Jim Peterik first got noticed as a member of the brass-driven Ides of March. He wrote their '70 million seller "Vehicle." After a brief stint as a solo Peterik formed Survivor with Frank Sullivan (lead guitar), Dave Bickler (vocals, keyboards), Stephen Ellis (bass) and Marc Droubay (drums). Prior to the release of Survivor's debut Peterik penned .38 Special's single "Rockin' Into The Night" which just missed the Top 40. A year later, he and Sullivan composed another song for .38 Special. "Hold On Loosely" did far better.
Survivor's self-titled '80 debut and sophomore album two years later, "Premonition" failed to have much impact. But when Sylvester Stallone said he wanted a Hard Rock sound for his Rocky III soundtrack the president of Survivor's label played "Premonition" for him. The actor liked what he heard and Survivor was commissioned to write and record the film's theme song. Seeing a rough cut of the film Peterik and Sullivan keyed in on the phrase "eye of the tiger." With its slashing guitar and theatrical vocals, "Eye Of The Tiger" became a huge hit. That success led to placing another song on a soundtrack. But '84 release "Moment Of Truth" from The Karate Kid flick didn't register. Nor did the album that preceded it, "Caught In The Game."
Soon Bickler was gone, replaced by Jimi Jamison. The change led to a revival. The album "Vital Signs," a million-seller, featured the singles "I Can't Hold Back" (#13 U.S.), "High On You" (#8 U.S.), and "The Search Is Over" (#4 U.S.).
"Burning Heart" showed up on the Rocky IV soundtrack and became another Top 5 hit. The group's last Top 10 hit, "Is This Love," came in '87.
When "Too Hot To Sleep," an album that relied heavily on session musicians, failed to generate much interest Sullivan and Peterik decided to put the band on hiatus. Jamison apparently didn't get the memo continuing to tour as Survivor or Jimi Jamison's Survivor. But even Jamison bailed on the group in '06 to pursue a solo career. However, five years later he joined a new edition of Survivor, one that included Sullivan, the only original member.
"It feels great to be back with Frankie and the band, singing the songs that the fans love," said Jamison.
"I'm excited to have Jimi back up front singing the hits, and giving the fans what they want," added Sullivan.
The pairing was not long for this world. Jamison died of a stroke in '14 at his home in Memphis at age 63. The cause of death was listed as hemorrhagic brain stroke, with "acute methamphetamine intoxication contributing."
1982 Eye Of The Tiger
1983 Caught In The Game
1984 Vital Signs
1985 Live In Tokyo
1986 When Seconds Count
1988 Too Hot To Sleep
Survivor has a clean, well produced sound and some better than average songs. "Eye Of The Tiger" and "Vital Signs" are their most popular albums and best studio efforts. But since Survivor is ultimately a singles band "Greatest Hits" is the smart option. It has all the hits and near misses.