Jimmy Wayne "Jimi" Jamison (August 23, 1951 – August 31, 2014) was an American rock vocalist and songwriter, best known as the longtime frontman of platinum selling rock bands Cobra and Survivor and as the voice and cowriter of the theme song for Baywatch.
Born in rural Mississippi, Jamison moved with his mother to Memphis, Tennessee, the day after his birth, and he considered himself a Memphis native. In addition to honing his vocal abilities in his teens, Jamison taught himself how to play guitar and piano. By middle school, he was playing in a band.
By the late 1970s, he was fronting the local Memphis band, Target, and he went on to become the lead singer of the more well-known band, Cobra in the early 1980s. He would later provide background vocals for successful bands including ZZ Top, Joe Walsh and many others. After the demise of Cobra in 1983/84, he was invited to join Survivor, whose success had been on the wane since their number-one hit, "Eye of the Tiger." Although he was initially not adamant about fronting what he considered more of a "pop rock" band, which would contrast significantly with the heavy metal stylings of Cobra to which he had become accustomed, Jamison ultimately joined and became Survivor's new frontman.
Jamison provided an instant spark for Survivor, as his first album with the band, Vital Signs included several massively successful singles, catapulting them back to superstardom. His second album with the band, When Seconds Count, contained a Top 10 hit, "Is This Love?" This album also found Jamison making more songwriting contributions to the band's output, as he co-wrote four of the record's songs, including another memorable single, "Man Against the World." One of the biggest adjustments he had to make performing with Survivor was giving up the right to perform hits by other artists. "Sometimes we'll start to do an encore and somebody will say, 'Let's do a Led Zeppelin song!'" he told Nine-O-One Network Magazine in 1987. "You wanna say 'Yeah. Yeah!' And then right at the very last minute you say, 'Nah, we better do this.'"
Among his best-known performances are "Burning Heart," from the Rocky IV movie with Sylvester Stallone, which hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, "High On You" (No. 8 US), and "The Search Is Over" (No. 4 US).
In 1989, Jamison was asked to be the lead vocal replacement for Deep Purple, who had just fired Ian Gillan. Said Purple organist Jon Lord of Jamison in a 1993 interview, "He was an enormous Deep Purple fan and he would happily have taken over the job. But at the time he was afraid of his managers. They didn't want him to leave [Survivor] and he didn't dare to get into a fight with them." In fact, it was Lord's record label who had just released Jamison's new album When Love Comes Down in 1991, and they wanted him to stay and promote the record instead of joining Deep Purple. Jamison went on to co-write and sing "I'm Always Here," the theme from the hit TV show Baywatch and later released another solo album, Empires under the name Jimi Jamison's Survivor.
Jamison would later reunite with Survivor in 2000, and he ended up remaining with the band up through the release of their new album, Reach, in 2006. In 2005, Jamison was featured with the band in the Emmy-nominated Starbuckscommercial which parodied Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger". Also in 2005, Jamison performed a duet on "It Takes Two" with teen singer Whitney Wolanin.
In 2008, Jamison released Crossroads Moment in Europe, and the album was released in the United States in 2009. It was produced by his former Survivor bandmate Jim Peterik. In October 2011, he released an album with Bobby Kimball(former lead singer of Toto) titled Kimball/Jamison.
Second return to Survivor
On November 12, 2011, Jamison led and performed "Eye of the Tiger" for champion boxer Manny Pacquiao's entrance into the ring for his bout against Juan Manuel Marquez at MGM Grand Las Vegas. Fueled by popular demand, he would repeat the performance the following year for the boxer's next title defense. In the meantime, the first performance foreshadowed later events, as just three days later, on November 15, 2011, Jamison announced his return to Survivor following a five-year absence from the group.
A year later, Jamison released a new solo album, Never Too Late. He continued to tour with Survivor.
Jamison was well known for his contributions to charities, and had been a participant in the annual Rockin Christmas Fund charity fundraiser event among others. He participated with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and benefits for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital annually.
He died at the age of 63 on August 31, 2014, from a heart attack.
- Vital Signs (1984)
- When Seconds Count (1986)
- Too Hot to Sleep (1988)
- Reach (2006)
- Ultimate Survivor (2004)
- Survivor Extended Versions MTV Live in Japan Special (2005)
- "If I Cry" (solo single) (1967)
- When Love Comes Down (1991)
- Empires (1999), initially released under the "Jimi Jamison's Survivor" band name
- Crossroads Moment (2008)
- Extra Moments (2010) with Jim Peterik
- Kimball/Jamison (2011) with Bobby Kimball
- Never Too Late (2012)
- Combinations - D Beaver (1971)
- Target (self-titled) (1976)
- Captured - Target (1977)
- This Ain't Hollywood, Degarmo & Key, (1980), Forefront Records
- First Strike - Cobra (1983)
- Headhunter - Krokus (1983)(background vocals)
- Worrall - Rick & Steve Worrall, (1991), with Shawn Lane, re-release on Yesterrock Records
- Heat It Up, Degarmo & Key, (1993), Sony BMG
- To Extremes, Degarmo & Key, (1994), Benson
- One Man`s Trash feat. Jimi Jamison & Fred Zahl (2011) History
- Karmalion, Indicco, (2013), New Venture Music
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