Saturday, July 24, 1982

Survivor hit #1 with “Eye of the Tiger”

Eye of the Tiger


Writer(s): Frankie Sullivan, Jim Peterik (see lyrics here)

First Charted: June 5, 1982

Peak: 16 US, 14 CB, 27 AC, 15 AR, 146 CN, 16 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 8.0 US, 1.87 UK, 10.07 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 959.43 video, 1070.77 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In 1982, Sylvester Stallone was looking for a song to use in his upcoming Rocky III movie. He initially approached Queen about using their #1 hit “Another One Bites the Dust.” After they turned him down, WK he asked Survivor if he could use “Poor Man’s Son,” the group’s top 40 hit from the year before.

Jim Peterik, the band’s keyboardist, watched a rough version of the movie with fight scenes still cut to “Another One Bites the Dust.” He and bandmate Frankie Sullivan thought that was going to be tough to beat, but, as Peterik said, they “started slashing those chords to the punches we saw on the screen, and the whole song took shape in the next three days.” SF

The song was built around the phrase “keep the eye of the tiger” which was referenced repeatedly in the film BB and crafted lyrics to fit with the events of the film. SF The band wondered if calling the song “Eye of the Tiger” was too on the nose and played around with calling it “Survival,” to play up a rhyme with the word rival. Eventually, Peterik decided “Are we nuts? That hook is so strong and ‘rival’ doesn’t have to be a perfect rhyme with the word ‘tiger.’ We made the right choice and went with ‘Eye of the Tiger.’” SF

Stallone loved the song after hearing a demo, but made some suggestions. Peterik said the band wouldn’t typically take suggestions from an actor, but that “Stallone had a good ear for a hook. Just listen to his dialogues – he wrote those scripts. He came up with…hook phrases like ‘I’m going to knock you into tomorrow.’” SF

The result was a #1 song and the band’s signature hit. It wasn’t a run-of-the-mill chart topper; the song was not only one of the biggest hits of that year, but one of the biggest hits of the ‘80s. At decade’s end, “Eye of the Tiger” was in a three-way tie for #1 song which spent the most weeks in the top ten (15 weeks) along with Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” and – surprise surprise – Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” WK


First posted 4/17/2019; last updated 7/23/2023.

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