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

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