Saturday, November 28, 1987

“I’ve Had the Time of My Life” hit #1

First posted 11/27/2020.

I’ve Had the Time of My Life

Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes

Writer(s): Frank Previte, John DeNicola, Donald Markowitz (see lyrics here)

Released: July 10, 1987

First Charted: August 8, 1987

Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 11 RR, 14 AC, 6 UK, 11 CN, 16 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.8 UK, 2.03 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 448.1 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

No one could have guessed how big the soundtrack for Dirty Dancing would be. The album mixed iconic songs from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s alongside new material from, well, has-beens. The most bankable commodity was Jennifer Warnes, who’d had a #1 with Joe Cocker on “Up Where We Belong,” another film song from five years earlier. But Eric Carmen, who was best known for “All by Myself” from more than a decade earlier? Bill Medley? His biggest hits were with the Righteous Brothers in the ‘60s. And Patrick Swayze, the film’s star, was going to sing? This didn’t sound like a surefire hit.

However, Swayze’s “She’s Like the Wind,” Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes,” and Medley & Warnes’ “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” all hit the top 5 and the latter went to #1. It gave Medley the distinction of the longest gap between #1’s – 21 years and 7 months from the time of the Righteous Brothers’ “You’re My Sould and Inspiration” and “Time of My Life.” BR1 The song also won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a Grammy.

Jimmy Ienner, the producer and head of Millennium Records, approached Frankie Previte, whose band Frankie & the Knockouts had a top 10 hit in 1981 with “Sweetheart,” about writing songs for the movie. According to Previte, when he told Ienner he was busy with another project, Previte told him “I suggest you get in on this because if you get a song in this movie, it’s going to change your life.” BR1 Previte was convinced and wrote several songs for the film, including “Hungry Eyes” and “I’ve Had the Time of My Life.”

Ienner gave Previte a rough idea of the plot and said they needed a song which started slow, ended up fast, and incorporated a Mambo beat. BR1 After tapping former bandmate John DeNicola and his friend Don Markowitz, for the music, Previte recorded a demo with singer Rachelle Cappelli. It wasn’t in the film, but it was used as a backing track while Swayze and Grey practiced their dancing.

The song was offered to Donna Summer and Joe Esposito, but she said no because she objected to the title of the movie. Ienner approached Medley repeatedly about recording the song, but Medley was skeptical after recording a duet with Gladys Knight for the Sylvester Stallone movie Cobra and seeing it flop. He was also expecting a child and didn’t want to travel for fear of missing the birth. BR1 After Medley’s daughter was born SF and the session was moved from New York to California, where Warnes also lived, Medley agreed. BR1 Warnes had already said she’d do it if Medley would. WK

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Bill Medley
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Jennifer Warnes
  • DMDB page for parent album, the Dirty Dancing soundtrack
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). New York, NY; Billboard Books. Page 683.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

Saturday, November 14, 1987

Dirty Dancing soundtrack hit #1 for the first of 18 weeks

Last updated 11/27/2020.

image from

Dirty Dancing (soundtrack)

Various artists

Released: September 1, 1987

Peak: 118 US, 4 UK, 114 CN, 18 AU

Sales (in millions): 11.0 US, 2.44 UK, 32.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: pop/oldies


Song Title (ACT) (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. I’ve Had the Time of My Life (BILL MEDLEY/ JENNIFER WARNES) (8/8/87, 1 US, 6 UK, 1 AC, sales: 0.5 m)
  2. Be My Baby (THE RONETTES) (8/31/63, 2 US, 4 UK, 4 RB)
  3. She’s Like the Wind (PATRICK SWAYZE/ WENDY FRASER) (12/19/87, 3 US, 17, 1 AC)
  4. Hungry Eyes (ERIC CARMEN) (11/7/87, 4 US, 2 AC)
  5. Stay (MAURICE WILLIAMS & THE ZODIACS) (9/26/60, 1 US, 14 UK, 3 RB)
  6. Yes (MERRY CLAYTON) (4/23/88, 49 AC)
  7. You Don’t Own Me (THE BLOW MONKEYS)
  8. Hey! Baby (BRUCE CHANNEL) (1/27/62, 1 US, 2 UK, 2 RB, sales: 0.5 m)
  9. Overload (ALFIE ZAPPACOSTA)
  10. Love Is Strange (MICKEY & SYLVIA) (12/22/56, 11 US, 1 RB)
  11. Where Are You Tonight? (TOM JOHNSTON)
  12. In the Still of the Night (THE FIVE SATINS) (3/56, 24 US, 3 RB)

Total Running Time: 39:25


4.048 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

The fall of 1987 marked the onset of my junior year in college. One of the hottest movies around was Dirty Dancing. I wasn’t interested, but ended up going – with five women. Hey, who would turn that down? Well, I thought the movie was cheesy and eye-rolling, but my movie companions loved it. They swooned over Patrick Swayze and practically danced in the aisles to the music.

Ah, yes. The music. As popular as the movie was and as much as women loved Patrick Swayze, the driving force was the music. The soundtrack was an unlikely blockbuster. In the mid-‘80s, soundtracks to Flashdance, Footloose, and Top Gun became huge sellers on the strength of well-crafted pop songs by known commodities. Each album mustered a couple of top ten hits and at least one #1 each and filler artists deemed unfit for their own albums.

Dirty Dancing opted for new songs by artists with decades-old hits. Eric Carmen (Hungry Eyes) hit #2 in 1975 with “All By Myself” while Bill Medley (I’ve Had the Time of My Life) had huge hits as part of the Righteous Brothers duo in the 1960s (“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”, “You’re My Soul and Inspiration”, “Unchained Melody”). The best known commodity was Medley’s duet partner, Jennifer Warnes, who had topped the charts in 1982 with “Up Where We Belong,” a duet with Joe Cocker from the movie An Officer and a Gentleman. Sure, she’d had a #1 hit, but who would’ve gambled she had more chart-toppers in her?

And who would have guessed Patrick Swayze had a top 10 hit in him? In a move that seemed like it could be cringe-worthy, the soundtrack opted to give its lead – not known for singing – a shot at tackling lead vocals on She’s Like the Wind. Swayze’s foray into music ended up being the album’s third (new) top ten hit.

The distinction that it was a “new” hit is important considering that the album is also sprinkled with well-known hits from the ‘50s and ‘60s like the Ronettes Be My Baby and Stay by Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs. They certainly fit the setting of the movie, but it didn’t seem like a winning formula for a successful soundtrack. Somehow, though, it worked – primarily because these are well-done slices of pop music from the present and the past that, unlike many soundtracks, often tie in well with scenes in the movie. “While this may not be ‘the time of your life,’ as the album cover advertises, it is a fun collection.” TH Hey, it’s hard to beat going to a movie with five women who want to dance in the aisles because of the music.

Notes: The soundtrack was so successful it spawned a sequel – More Dirty Dancing – in 1988. It was dominated by instrumentals and more oldies, but led to The Contours’ “Do You Love Me” recharting – and peaking at #11 – more than 25 years after its original debut.

Resources and Related Links: