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Music / Survivor (Band)

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It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight,
Risin' up to the challenge of our rival.
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night.
And he's watchin' us all with the eye of the tiger.
— "Eye of the Tiger"

Survivor is an American rock group from Chicago best known for their number-one hit "Eye of the Tiger", which was famously featured in the soundtrack to the Sylvester Stallone film Rocky III. While they had other hits, none matched the huge success of this one, and as such they're often thought of as a One-Hit Wonder group.

For most of their career, the mainstays of the group were Frankie Sullivan (lead guitar) and Jim Peterik (keyboards, rhythm guitar). They formed the band's songwriting nucleus, first alongside Dave Bickler (lead vocal) and then with his replacement, Jimi Jamison.

Their greatest success was the inclusion of "Eye of the Tiger" in the soundtrack for the third Rocky film, which cemented their position as a leading Arena Rock group. Their Rocky IV follow up "Burning Heart" was a huge success as well. They had further successes with the album Vital Signs and its hit singles "The Search Is Over", "High On You" and "I Can't Hold Back", but subsequent releases were scuppered by poor marketing on the part of their record label, precipitating their breakup at the end of the eighties.

While they're less well-remembered than contemporaries like Journey or Foreigner, they had a harder and heavier sound for most of their career. Although out of the limelight since the end of the eighties, members of the group still perform as Survivor and have recorded one album. Until Jimi Jamison's untimely death in 2014, they had both vocalists, Jamison and Bickler, perform together.

Not to be confused with the popular American TV show.

It's the Eye of the Troper, it's the thrill of the type:

  • Anti-Love Song: "Burning Bridges" from Too Hot To Sleep.
  • Bad to the Bone: "Eye of the Tiger" is frequently used in this manner, when it's not being used for a Training Montage.
  • The Band Minus the Face: Averted when Dave Bickler left the band, replaced by Jimi Jamison, as they still continued making hits. Played straight when Jimi Jamison left the band midway through the recording of their last album, Reach- guitarist Frankie Sullivan took over the vocals for two songs. They then hired Robin Mc Auley as their vocalist- and didn't record again for over five years (and counting), although Jamison later returned to the band.
  • Darker and Edgier: The 1988 release Too Hot To Sleep, which had a distinctly hard sound, following the much Lighter and Softer Vital Signs (1984) and When Seconds Count (1986).
  • I Am the Band: Either Jim Peterik, their best-known songwriter, or Frankie Sullivan, the only constant band member. In the nineties, Jimi Jamison invoked it, but it didn't really work out.
  • Love Is a Drug: "High On You" from Visible Signs.
  • New Sound Album: Their sound was originally relatively harder than most AOR bands, closer to 70's classic rock. Then came Vital Signs in 1984, which had a prominent keyboard-laden sound, and the guitars were toned down a lot. To it's credit, Jim Peterik said that it's hit single ("The Search Is Over") is the best song he's ever written. It continued for one more release (When Seconds Count) then they went back to their tougher-sounding style.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Impressed by their song "Poor Man's Son", Sylvester Stallone asked the band to write something for Rocky III after Queen denied him permission to use "Another One Bites the Dust". The result was, of course, "Eye of the Tiger". Aside from that obvious example, they wrote "Burning Heart" for Rocky IV and "The Moment of Truth" for the The Karate Kid (1984) soundtrack.
  • Power Ballad: They had a lot of them, though unlike a lot of similar bands, they didn't often release them as singles. The only big exception is "The Search Is Over", which became one of their biggest hits.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • When your HEART! CRIES! OUT! In the middle of a SLEEP! LESS! NIGHT! (When Seconds Count, 1986)
    • TOO! HOT! TO SLEEP! (Too Hot To Sleep, 1988)
  • Revolving Door Band: Only guitarist Frankie Sullivan remains constant.
  • Signature Headgear: Dave Bickler's trademark beret.
  • Step Up to the Mic: First Jim Peterik had a song where he handled lead vocals on their first album, and in their latest album, Frankie Sullivan sang on two tracks after Jimi Jamison left the band in 2006.
  • Talky Bookends: Featured in the music video for "The Search Is Over".
  • Team Power Walk: The band walk together down the street in the music video for "Eye of the Tiger."
  • Vocal Tag Team: Their first two albums had some moments, with Jim Peterik providing additional vocals. It happened extensively after they brought back both Dave Bickler and Jimi Jamison, as it does here. With Jamison's passing, however, he was replaced by newcomer Cameron Barton, and following Bickler's departure, this left Barton as the sole lead vocalist.