Monday, October 5, 2020

"(I've Had) The Time of My Life" by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Oscar Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3278
Date:  09/26/1987
Debut:  73
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  In the fall of '86, filming began on a little movie titled Dirty Dancing. With a small budget of $5 million, cameras rolled with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the lead roles. The film would incorporate quite a bit of music and the filmmakers wanted to use a mix of old and new tunes. For the newer material, Frankie Previte (of Frankie & the Knockouts fame) was asked to contribute a couple of song. Previte along with John DeNicola and Donald Markowitz then co-wrote "(I've Had) The Time of My Life." Previte recorded a demo version of the tune with Rachele Cappelli and ultimately it was selected to be used in the film's final scene. Of course the producers wanted bigger names to record the tune and in the end Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes agreed to perform the song. The film hit theaters in late August of '87 to mixed reviews, but audiences took notice and eventually it hit #1 at the box office. The soundtrack was issued out along with this first single. Like the movie, it got off to a slow start, but then headed to #1. It would be Medley's first #1 hit outside of the Righteous Brothers and Warnes' second soundtrack duet to hit #1 following 1982's "Up Where We Belong" with Joe Cocker. That song would go on to win a Grammy and an Oscar and this Dirty Dancing theme would follow suit. The track would also spend four weeks at #1 on the AC chart. The success of the song and the film led to the soundtrack album spending 18 non-consecutive weeks at #1. Eventually, it would sell over 11 million copies in the US alone.

ReduxReview:  I admit that I'm not a big fan of Dirty Dancing. I thought it was just meh. However, there are moments in films where the scene and the music perfectly combine to create a little magic and the flick's finale was one. That last lift has been mimicked and parodied tons of times over the years. It became an iconic film moment and a big reason for that was this song. Well-written, smartly arranged and produced, and impeccably performed by Medley and Warnes, there was just no doubt the song was going to be a big hit. The film gave the song a big boost, but I think the song was strong enough that it would have done well on its own. It's also a tune that has remained popular over the years and it sounds just as good now as it did then.


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The final scene of the movie was one of the first to be shot. At the time, the Medley/Warnes duet hadn't been recorded, so to motivate everyone in the scene, Previte's original demo was used. It would then be replace in the completed film with the Medley/Warnes version. Previte's demo would later be released as a bonus track on the 1998 reissue of Frankie & the Knockouts' self-titled 1981 album.  2) Medley and Warnes were not the first artists consider for the song. Initially, Donna Summer and Joe Esposito were approached for the job. Summer apparently turned it down because she didn't like the title of the film (remember, she was in her born-again days). The music coordinator for the film, Jimmy Ienner (who also ran Millennium Records), then tried to get Bill Medley, but Medley decline because his wife was about to give birth and he also didn't like the title of the film. For about three months, Ienner pestered Medley. In the meantime, Medley's wife had given birth and Ienner had contacted Jennifer Warnes who showed interest in doing the song, but only if Medley would. With news that Warnes was on board, Medley then agreed to sing on the track.



  1. They aren't the two people you would initially think of for a duet (neither were Jennifer and Joe Cocker), but it definitely worked out for this song. Do you know if they were approached as a package, or separately, and if separately, who was contacted first?

    1. To my understanding via interviews, the film's music supervisor, Jimmy Ienner wanted Bill Medley to record the song, but Medley turned him down because he didn't want to do a soundtrack song and he didn't want to leave his wife who was expecting a baby. Ienner pester Medley for about three month, but kept getting turned down. In the meantime, I believe Ienner approached Warnes to do the female vocal and she agreed, especially if Medley would be the other singer. Ienner went back to Medley and told him Warnes was on board. Medley was a fan of Warnes and his schedule had become free since his wife had the baby, so he then agreed to do the song.

    2. Thanks for the cool story! You really do your homework!