NEW YORK, N.Y. – MAY 10, 2007 – Hal David, Chairman/CEO of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, announced today that this year’s “Towering Song” honor would be bestowed upon the classic “Unchained Melody” at the 2007 Songwriters Hall of Fame gala on Thursday, June 7th at New York’s Marriott Marquis Hotel. Cocktails begin at 6pm, dinner is at 7pm and the show begins at 8:30pm. The event is once again produced by Phil Ramone.
“Unchained Melody” is one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century, by some counts having spawned over 500 versions. It was co-written by lyricist Hy Zaret and composer Alex North, and is published by Frank Music Corp. Originally co-written for the 1955 prison film “Unchained,” no less than three versions of the song – by Les Baxter, Al Hibbler and Roy Hamilton – hit the Top Ten that year, with Hibbler’s version ranking as the best known for the next ten years. The song was also recorded successfully by Jimmy Young and Liberace, and covered by countless others, but the Righteous Brothers’ 1965 version - given a supremely romantic production by Phil Spector - became the definitive version, reaching #4 on the pop charts. That recording was revived in 1990 with its inclusion in the film “Ghost,” and reached the Top Twenty. The song also has the unique distinction of being a UK #1 hit for four different acts: Jimmy Young (1955); the Righteous Brothers (1990) [although it was recorded in 1965); Robson & Jerome (1995); Gareth Gates (2002). The New York group Vito & the Salutations had an uptempo hit in 1963, and in 1969, Roy Orbison recorded his own version of the song that appeared on “Roy Orbison’s Many Moods” (1969). On June 21, 1977, just six weeks prior to his death, Elvis Presley performed “Unchained Melody” for what would be his last television appearance, “Elvis In Concert.”
The Towering Song Award is presented each year to the creators of an individual song that has influenced the culture in a unique way over many years. Previous Towering Songs have included “When The Saints Go Marching In,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “What The World Needs Now Is Love” and “Fly Me to the Moon.”
Inductees at this year’s event include Don Black, Jackson Browne, Irving Burgie, Michael Masser, Bobby Weinstein and Teddy Randazzo (posthumous). Dolly Parton will receive the
Johnny Mercer Award, John Legend will receive the Hal David Starlight Award and Don Kirshner will receive the Abe Olman Publisher Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Music Industry.
About The Songwriters Hall of Fame:
The Songwriters Hall of Fame was founded in 1969 by songwriter Johnny Mercer and publishers Abe Olman and Howie Richmond. The SHOF not only celebrates songwriters and educates the public on their great achievements, but is also devoted to the development of new songwriting talent through workshops, showcases and scholarships. Over the course of the past 37 years, some key Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees have included John Fogerty, Isaac Hayes and David Porter, Steve Cropper, Richard and Robert Sherman, Bill Withers, Carole King, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Sir Elton John, Bernie Taupin, Brian Wilson, James Taylor, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Hal David and Burt Bacharach, Jim Croce, Phil Collins, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Jimmy Webb, Van Morrison and Cy Coleman among many, many others.
Full biographies and a complete list of inductees are available at the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s Virtual Museum at songhall.org.
Tickets for the Songwriters Hall of Fame begin at $1000 each, and are available through Buckley Hall Events, (212) 573-6933. Net proceeds from the event will go towards the Songwriters Hall of Fame programs.