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Survivor the band Biography

Home > Music > S > Survivor the band > Biography

Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Years Active: 1978–1989, 1993–present
Genres: AOR, Melodic Rock, Hard Rock

Survivor is an American rock band formed in Chicago in 1978. Founding Survivor members Jim Peterik, Gary Smith and Dennis Keith Johnson initially came together in 1977 as The Jim Peterik Band and recorded one album, “Don't Fight the Feeling,” on Epic Records. Then in 1978, at the urging of tour manager Rick Weigand, Peterik hooked up with Frankie Sullivan, brought in singer Dave Bickler, and Survivor was born.

After playing in small clubs for several years, Survivor was signed by Atlantic Records. The group's first album, the self-titled “Survivor,” was released in early 1980, but the album produced no Top 40 singles, and did not achieve the level of success that the band had hoped for.

In 1981 Johnson and Smith had schedule conflicts with their other projects, so they were replaced by Stephan Ellis and Marc Droubay in time for the band's follow-up album, “Premonition.” It charted higher, achieving popularity with American audiences and giving the band its first Top 40 single, "Poor Man's Son." The album also showed off Bickler's range as a vocalist with its second single, "Summer Nights."

In 1982 Survivor's breakthrough arrived when actor Sylvester Stallone asked them to provide the theme song for his movie “Rocky III.” Stallone had heard their single "Poor Man's Son" and wanted a song similar to it. The band agreed to write him a song and soon released "Eye of the Tiger." It had an enormous impact on the Billboard charts, peaking at #1 and remaining there for a total of six weeks. It also topped the British charts. It was in the Top 40 for a total of 18 weeks and was Australia's #1 single for four weeks. The song won the band a Grammy Award, was voted "Best New Song" by the People's Choice Awards, and also received an Academy Award nomination. The album of the same title, “Eye of the Tiger,” was released by the band later in 1982 and contained another Top 40 hit in the United States, "American Heartbeat" (#17 US). The album went on to chart at #2 in the United States.

In 1983 Survivor tried to duplicate the success of “Eye Of The Tiger” with their next release “Caught in the Game.” The album turned out to be a commercial disappointment, stalling at #82 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. The album's only single, the title track, peaked at #77. The band suffered another setback in late 1983 when lead singer Dave Bickler suffered voice problems and was forced to leave. In early 1984 he was replaced by Jimi Jamison of the bands Target and Cobra.

After recording "The Moment of Truth" (#63 US), the theme song of the box office smash hit “The Karate Kid” (1984), the band recorded its first album with Jamison. “Vital Signs” gave the band a massive comeback, peaking at #16 on the Billboard Album Chart with the hits "I Can't Hold Back" (#13 U.S.), "High on You" (#8 U.S.) and "The Search Is Over" (#4 U.S.). In 1985, the band had another hit with "Burning Heart," a song from the “Rocky IV” soundtrack, when it peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“When Seconds Count,” released in 1986, included the hit, "Is This Love" (#9 U.S.). On the Billboard 200 Albums Chart the album peaked at #49 and reached certified Gold status.

During pre-production of their seventh album, “Too Hot to Sleep” (1988), Ellis and Droubay were replaced by studio session vets Mickey Curry (drums) and Bill Syniar (bass). Sullivan produced the effort with Frank Fillipetti. Though the album presented a harder-rocking Survivor, similar to the sound in the band's early days, “Too Hot To Sleep” failed to make a dent on the charts (#187 US).

After the disappointing sales of Too Hot To Sleep, Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan decided to put the band on hiatus indefinitely. Jamison went back on the road as “Jimi Jamison's Survivor.”

In spring 1993 Peterik and Sullivan re-teamed with original lead singer Dave Bickler, released a new “Greatest Hits” album with two new songs ("Hungry Years" co-written by Bickler and "You Know Who You Are") and embarked on a world tour with Bill Syniar and Kyle Woodring returning on bass and drums.

In April 2006 Survivor released a new album called “Reach.” Six of the album's twelve songs were written and recorded in the 1990s with Dave Bickler on lead vocals (except "Never The Less" and "Talkin' Bout Love").