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Interview with Jimi Jamison - Ex-Survivor
Always the “survivor,” Jimi Jamison chats with ROCKEYEZ!
Lead Vocals

Jimi Jamison

Interviewed by Dave Felix
Date: December 2007

I actually had the pleasure of doing this interview just a little over a month ago. The reason I have held it back a little is because there was some more exciting news that hadn’t been confirmed yet up until now. For the first time, Jimi Jamison will be bringing his amazing voice and live show to the UK for 9 dates in May 2008! Not only that, but you can also catch him performing with Jim Peterik for a one night event at the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. For more information on dates and ticket information, please visit or But now… on with the interview…

Dave Felix: Hey Jimmy, thanks so much for taking the time to do this and it was great meeting you and seeing you perform a couple of months back at the Anniversary show. How did you get involved in that?

Jimi Jamison: I’ve known and have been talking to Andrew (McNeice) almost since he first started the site… just talking back and forth over the years. So he emailed me and asked me if I’d like to be part of it and I said, “Of course!” It’s a great site and has helped promote a lot of bands and does a lot of good for everybody so I figured this was a great opportunity to give a little bit back and I’m pretty sure that’s how all the musicians who were a part of it felt.Jimi Jamison

Dave Felix: The event also saw you reunited with your long-time friend and writing partner Jim Peterik. What was it like performing with him again?

Jimi Jamison: Oh it was GREAT! Ya know Jim and I were always close friends deep down. I mean I know we went through a bunch of crap and hassles there for a little while but that was all brought about by something we couldn’t control. Jim and I played a benefit with Fergie Fredrickson a little over a year ago and that was one of the first times we had actually seen each other in a long time. It wasn’t planned, we just happened to be on the same bill together so when we saw each other, it was like, “Oh man…” You know what I mean? Then we did “The Search Is Over”… just me and him on keyboards and all the musicians and everyone just crowded around the stage watching to see what was going to happen! But it was just great and that’s where it all started as far as us performing live together and working together again.

Dave Felix: Are there any more plans for you with Jim in the future?

Jimi Jamison: As a matter of fact, we’re working on a new CD! Jim’s producing it and I’m… screaming! This guy can write… my God!

Dave Felix: That is so great! When can we expect to see that released?

Jimi Jamison: Well we don’t have a deal yet so I’m really not sure. We’re only about four or five songs into it right now so we’re shopping it around right now to see if anyone will take a bite into it. I hope they will. I put a couple of songs up on my MySpace site just to experiment and I’ve gotten TONS of positive reactions to them… no bad at all!

Dave Felix: I wanted to touch on that as well… I have visited your MySpace site several times. Are most of the songs on there now what you’ve been working on with Jim?

Jimi Jamison: Yeah, one of them is called “Alive,” then there’s “Heart of A Woman” and “Come Dancing.”

Dave Felix: “Alive” is a great, great track.

Jimi Jamision: Oh you’ve listened to it?

Dave Felix: Yeah… really good stuff.

Jimi Jamison: Cool… thank you so much. I’m glad you like it. I love that song too… it just fit me like a glove, ya know? And everybody else seems to be saying the same thing, even more so than the other two.

Dave Felix: One of the true highlights of the Event was when you performed “Eye of the Tiger.” It really brought the house down! Are you surprised at people’s reactions when they hear that song even to this day?

Jimi Jamison: Kevin Chalfant & Jimi JamisonYa know what, I’m not anymore… I use to be! When I first started singing it I was surprised at their reaction but now it doesn’t surprise me as much because they still react the same way! It’s weird… but that song is like the number one sports song ever except for maybe “Are You Ready For Some Football!” I guess it’ll go down in history as that but sometimes certain crowds you don’t expect that much of a reaction from… but when you do get it, it IS a surprise. I have to admit that. But I didn’t originally sing the song, but if I had sung it, it would probably be even more surprising! (Laughs)

Dave Felix: Now I heard something else pretty has come out of the whole Event in that there are potential plans being made for a tour which would include Kevin Chalfant, Joe Lynn Turner and yourself. What can you tell me about that?

Jimi Jamison: Well, we just really hit it off… Kevin and I. Then, of course, Joe and I have known each other for years and years and have even been playing together (on and off) with “THE VOICES OF CLASSIC ROCK, RPM and a couple of others. So, we’re trying to put this ensemble of singers together to go out and tour and have some fun! I mean we all get along so well… it’s like three pears in a pod, ya know! But so far there’s just the three of us but I think Kevin is working on recruiting a couple of more guys now.

Dave Felix: That’s very exciting… I had spoken with Kevin about it briefly as well. Do you have any idea of where the tour might be taking you yet?

Jimi Jamison: I don’t yet. We’re still just in the process of putting the whole thing together and we have an agency that’s working on some dates but I don’t think anything’s been firmed up yet.

Dave Felix: On this kind of a tour, will each performer be bringing their own band along or will there just be like one universal set of musicians?

Jimi Jamison: It’ll be kind of like the show where one group of artists will play with everyone. I don’t think it would really be feasible for each of us to bring our own band along. But whoever is going to be in the band is going to be top notch… I can tell ya that!

Dave Felix: Any word on who the other potential vocalists are?

Jimi Jamison: (Laughs) No… I really can’t say because it would be really messed up if I mentioned any names and we ended up calling someone else!

Dave Felix: You’ve had some of your most noticeable success with the band SURVIVOR. What was it like for you when you first stepped into that band after they had just had their biggest commercial success with “Eye of the Tiger?” Jimi jamison

Jimi Jamison: Actually I had gotten into SURVIVOR through Epic Records. I was in a band called COBRA who were a lot harder than them. So I came out of a heavy metal band, in essence, and was thrown into a pop-rock band…, which was a bit of a culture shock to me in the beginning. I had no idea it was going to be as big as it was but I remember this one time we were on our way downtown to shoot a video and I must have heard “High On You” like eight times on the radio on the way from Schaumburg to downtown Chicago! (Laughs) It was definitely a pleasant surprise to find out we were that successful. I had no idea what “Vital Signs” was going to do but I was absolutely overjoyed when it did hit.

Dave Felix: One of the songs off that album, “The Search Is Over,” is still in rotation on a lot of radio stations today and not to mention it being one of the biggest wedding songs ever. When you first got together to start recording the song, did you or anyone even have the feel that you were recording what could be considered a classic?

Jimi Jamison: No… not at all! Let me let you in on a little secret here… when we recorded the song, Ron Nevison was producing and it was just he and I in the studio one night when he whipped out a bottle of wine and we proceeded to get drunker than a couple of hobos! (Laughs) So next time you listen to that song, you’ll have to think to yourself that Jamison was slobbering all over himself! (Laughs) And I don’t even drink so one bottle of wine for me was like, “Whoa!” ... so that’s a pretty funny story. But no, I never dreamed it was going to be as big as it was... it was a total surprise to me because I was still kinda feeling the effects of coming out of COBRA and coming from that, sort of, heavy metal band and into a situation like that was just a total shock. I think the song it made it all the way to number 2 on the charts so... it was just amazing and the video stayed on MTV for quite a while as well.

Dave Felix: You initially joined the band in the early 80’s, left the band in the early 90’s, returned to the band once again in the early 2000’s and then finally left the band once more shortly after the release of “Reach” in 2006. What made you decide to call it quits once again?

Jimi Jamison: Well the last time was because, see... we were suppose to have equal control, Frank and I, but as it turns out... whoever owns the name has the control! And he owned the name so, there ya go! (Laughs) “Reach” was a pretty good album, I guess, but it was never quite what I wanted or thought it could be. I didn’t have a lot of final say regarding what actually went on the record but it’s a good album... just a little bit of a let down to me.

Dave Felix: And why is that?

Jimi Jamison: Because I thought there could have been better songs on it to be honest with ya. I know we were pretty rushed as far as getting the record out but still, if it were up to me I would have ignored the rush and put the best songs possible on there. JLT, Blades, Jimi, Eric Ragno

Dave Felix: Now as we were discussing earlier, you have “Alive” and some other new material posted on your MySpace site. Other than Jim Peterik, who else are you working with on the new material?

Jimi Jamison: Right now it’s just Jim and I. If we come across something that’s really great, of course we’ll take a shot, put it up and see how it stands up against the rest of the songs but for right now, it’s just us.

Dave Felix: If the tour does all come about, will you be playing some of your new songs?

Jimi Jamison: Oh yeah… especially if they start circulating around a bit more and people start getting familiar with them. I’ll probably be doing a few regardless, though, just to try and get people familiar with them because when you play them live, they sound even better than they are on tape. I’ve always hated being in studio since I was 16 years old. I was in the studio for the first time with Knox Phillips and I remember I’d have to keep singing this song over and over again. Knox’d be like, “We need you to sing that again!” and I’d be saying, “Geez Knox, I’ve already sung it twice!” (Laughs) So, I’ve always been more of a “live” guy…

Dave Felix: How often do you get to perform out?

Jimi Jamison: Quite a bit, as a matter of fact. We do a lot of “corporate” dates with a band called RPM which is the guys from ORLEANS, Joe Lynn Turner, Dave Jenkins and just a whole group of great singers and we play quite a bit. My own bands play pretty often as well. I’m involved in a couple of different groups right now… STARSHIP & FRIENDS being one of them. Mickey’s (Thomas) an old friend of mine… almost like my brother.

Dave Felix: A lot of people may not realize this, but you’ve been in the business now for upwards of 40 years! You’ve received critical acclaim all over the world as well. After all this time, what keeps you going?

Jimi Jamison: I just love music. I never planned on this as a career… it just turned into one. When I first started, we use to rehearse twice a day… every day. We’d play anywhere and everywhere and it didn’t matter about the money. We just loved doing it! There’s just something about it that just fills you up and completes you. So I just love doing it and that’s why I am going to keep on doing it until I can’t do it any more!

Dave Felix: Over the years, you’ve had the opportunity to work with countless numbers of artists and musicians. At this point in your career, is there anyone that you’d like to work with that you haven’t had the opportunity to yet?

Jimi Jamison: Lets see… I like to work with really great singers and the best singers I can actually find because when I am in that environment it seems to make me sing better. I’ve always wanted to do a duet or something with Steve Perry but he seems to be a hard fellow to track down. (Laughs) Other than that, one time I had the opportunity to perform with DEEP PURPLE but I wasn’t able to do it and I really regret that because they’ve always been one of my all time favorite bands.

Dave Felix: You’ve been able to capture and maintain a pretty solid fan base over the years but do you feel it’s harder or easier nowadays to reach that younger or broader audience?

Jimi Jamison: Definitely harder! It’s much, much harder to get the music out there for them to hear, ya know? Unless you get their ear somehow, they’re not going to know if you’re good or not… and that’s a hard thing to do because they have their own ideas about what’s good and bad and what they’ll listen to. If they would just take that extra step further and check something else out, they might find they’d develop a broader appreciation of other types of music. It’s like with my son… I turned him on to THE EAGLES and now he’s got it playing in his car!

Dave Felix: What do you think it would take to swing people back to that broader spectrum of music people use to have in the 70’s and 80’s?

Jimi Jamison: jimi It would have to start with radio because no matter what anybody says, people will always be listening to it. If they could broaden their horizons a little bit and start playing musicians they know are good a little bit more, that would definitely help a lot. There’re a lot of musicians from the 70’s and 80’s still out there but they’re just not playing their music anymore unless it’s like a “classic” or something. They’re not playing their new stuff and in some cases, the new stuff is actually better than the old stuff! I don’t know what the answer is as far as getting radio stations to do that but that’s where it’s got to start. People have to hear it or else they’re never going to know about it.

Dave Felix: I recently interviewed a friend of yours in Kevin Chalfant and got to play this little game with him… a kind of “fill in the blanks” kinda thing… you up for it?

Jimi Jamison: Sure… lets go!

Dave Felix: Ok… lets start with:

  1. If I’m not working on music, you can usually find me in the yard.
  2. When I was in school, my classmates considered me shy.
  3. Believe me when I tell ya, dope isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! (Laughs)
  4. I’m REAL competitive when it comes to singing.
  5. I miss my youth more than anything else in the world.
  6. My life wouldn’t be complete without music.
  7. If one more person comes up to me and says play some SKYNARD, I think I’m going to scream!
  8. If I was a super hero, I would call myself (Laughs) What’d Kevin say on that one?!? (Laughs) I tell ya what, you could call me “crazy” because I would be crazy if I thought I was a super hero!
  9. This may sound strange, but the dark really scares the Hell out of me!
  10. Oh no… not again. Where the heck are my car keys?

Dave Felix: Who is the most influential person in your life and why?

Jimi Jamison: My mother… without a doubt.

Dave Felix: Was she supportive of your career path from a young age?

Jimi Jamison: Oh yeah! We were a poor family but she did everything she could to help me and always supported me. She was never like, “Why don’t you stop doing that singing stuff!” Never said it… never said it.

Dave Felix: What would you most like to be remembered for?

Jimi Jamison: I guess being a good person. I’m a pretty nice guy… I’ve never lied, killed or stolen that I can remember! Well, (Laughs) maybe lied a little bit every now and then! But once you’re gone, you want to be remembered for the most important thing and to me that’s the kind of person you are.

Dave Felix: You’ve contributed a lot of your time and efforts to many charitable institutions over the years. Are there any groups or organizations you are currently working with that you’d like to talk about?

Jimi Jamison: I do a lot of work with St. Jude and if you ever get a chance to visit that hospital, it’s a very emotional and powerful thing. I did this Christmas thing there… this DJ friend of mine called me up and said, “Hey, lets go down to St. Jude!” We weren’t scheduled to be there or anything, we just showed up one Christmas and he played some songs with no vocals on them and I just sang along. The kids, their parents and everyone just flooded in when we started playing and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Dave Felix: So what do we have to look forward to from Jimi Jamison in 2008?

Jimi Jamison: Hopefully a great, great album! I know it’s going to be really good and I can’t wait to get it out there then hopefully a lot more live playing. I’ve never played 200 dates in one year and I know of a lot of bands that have done that… and that’s a lot of dates! Now I’m not saying I’d like to do that, but I’d settle for 150 or so! (Laughs)

Dave Felix: Thanks again Jimmy, we appreciate you taking the time to do this.

Jimi Jamison: Oh it’s been my pleasure and we’ll see y’all in the New Year!


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