Jimmy Wayne â€œJimiâ€ Jamison, the lead singer of the 1980s arena rock band Survivor, died on Aug. 31 of a heart attack. He was 63.
The bandâ€™s official Facebook page shared the news of Jamisonâ€™s death on Monday: â€œThe entire Survivor family is very shocked and saddened by the passing of our brother Jimi Jamison. Our thoughts, love and prayers go out to his family and friends.â€
Born in Mississippi and raised in Memphis, Jamison was just 13 years old when he first performed in public. Even at such a young age, heâ€™d found his calling.
Jamison spent the 1970s and early 1980s as the frontman for the hard rock bands Target and Cobra. He also provided back-up vocals for numerous recording artists, including ZZ Top and Joe Walsh.
When vocal problems caused Survivor lead singer Dave Bickler to leave the band, numerous people tried out for the gig. But it was Jamison who landed the coveted job of performing alongside guitarist Frankie Sullivan, keyboardist Jim Peterik, bassist Stephan Ellis and drummer Marc Droubay.
Although Jamison originally joined Survivor in 1983, the charismatic performer would leave and return many times over the next few decades. However, when there was harmony between the bandmates, the music shined.
Jamisonâ€™s first Survivor release was â€œThe Moment of Truth,â€ a song that didnâ€™t fare well on the radio but became the theme for the hit movie â€˜The Karate Kid.â€ His debut album with the band was much more successful; â€œVital Signsâ€ (1984) went platinum and spun off several hits, including the rock ballads â€œI Canâ€™t Hold Back,â€ â€œHigh On Youâ€ and â€œThe Search Is Over.â€
â€œIâ€™m stronger on ballads,â€ Jamison told The Los Angeles Times in 1985. â€œI like to sing them more than anything else but I didnâ€™t get much of a chance before. I wanted to sing more ballads. Being in this group is just right for me.â€
Survivorâ€™s biggest hit, â€œEye of the Tigerâ€ â€” which sold over 2.5 million copies, topped the Billboard Hot 100 and became an athletic anthem as part of the soundtrack for â€œRocky IIIâ€ â€” was released two years before Jamison joined the band. During the next 30 years, he would perform the soaring tune countless times in concert, much to the joy of fans. He also recorded the vocals for â€œBurning Heart,â€ a song that appeared on the â€œRocky IVâ€ soundtrack.
After Survivor disbanded in 1989, Jamison decided to focus on a solo career. He released two albums, â€œWhen Love Comes Downâ€ (1991) and â€œEmpiresâ€ (1999), and cowrote and sang â€œIâ€™m Always Here,â€ which became the theme for the the TV show â€œBaywatch.â€
Survivor reunited in 1993, with former lead singer Dave Bickler back on the mic. But Jamison reunited with the band in 2000, remained for six years, left for five and then returned again in 2011. He performed his last Survivor show on Saturday night in Morgan Hill, Calif., The Arizona Republic reported.