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Jimi Jamison PDF Print E-mail
Contributed by Larry Schörling   
Wednesday, 19 February 1997

Jimi Jamison, 41, has as singer / frontman in bands like Target, Cobra and Survivor built up a reputation as being one fine singer (one of the finest even) with his very soulful delivery. Jamison's most successful years we're spent with Chicago's very own Survivor with whom he delivered some classic AOR- albums. Especially their "Vital Signs" album (Scotti Brothers, 1984) which is as good as it gets.
After a not-so-successful album, "Too Hot To Sleep", things, came to an end due to the absent of success and lack of' touring. Now almost a decade after that album Jimi is out touring with his own Survivor while his former part-ners, apart ftom performing with their own Survivor, are in legal dispute with Jimi. Lots of rumours, lots of mouth stabbing and many questions to be answered (some may never be). Here are some of Jimi's views on his past, present and future.

"The, experience I got from playing with Target, there's not enough money to buy that. That's just something that has to happen. I've learned a lot from that point until the pre-sent. When I was with Target I learned about what desicions I shouldn't make now, cause I made a lot of bad desicions back then. Target was a great band and actually honed my vocals, that's where I learned really how to sing. I was in a lot of bands before Target, but just a lot of copybands playing parties and highschools and stuff. With Target I did two albums on A&M Records, and we toured with anybody you could think of, like Black Sabbath, Styx and so on. We were constantly touring all the time and I learned all about touring in Target and I found out what the road was like. Then it was Cobra. Actually I wish that Cobra would've last a little more longer but we weren't making a whole lot of money in Cobra and people were starving to death. Tommy (Kaiser, bassplayer in Cobra) and Mandy (Meyer, guitarist in Cobra) had moved over here to Memphis from Switzerland and our manager wasn't generating anything for us so they were starving to death and I was trying to help and keep them going together with our other guitarplayer Jack Holder. The band finally split up and we only had one record out ("First Strike", 1983) and we were working on another one when the band split up. "I'm A Fighter" was written for the second album and Jolinny Van Zant recorded it (along with some others, most recently Ray Roper-Larry).

-From Cobra you went on to Survivor. How did that chance come about?
"When Cobra broke up I really didn't know what I was going to do and one day the telephone rang and it was Survivor's manager saying: "Do you wanna come up and audition with the band?" And I said: "Well. I guess, sure. I'll come up and do it". So I went to Chicago and sat in with the guys and sang a few songs. Later back home a few months later they called me and said, "Let's go".
At the time I wasn't really familiar with their stuff. Of course I had heard of "Eye Of The Tiger" on the radio but to be really honest with you I really didn't care for that song that much at the time (Laughs) but now it's grown on me. I had to go and buy the albums to see what the band sounded like, to see if I really wanted to do it. So I went and bought the albums and found out that they were really good writers. And after I got and rehearsed with them we found that we could write together and per-form together very well and it turned out pretty good. We had like four songs in the top ten, if I'm not mistaken. I still think they stand up. The radio could be playing those albums, especially our last album "Too Hot To Sleep". It never even got promoted, most of.the cities never even had the albums in the stores cause at that time our record company were Scottl Brothers and our distributer were CBS, and Scotti Brothers were in some dispute with CBS and we just got lost in the shuffle."

-In 1991 you did a solo album under the name of Jim Jamison, why only Jim?
"Because the record compan'y called me in the office "Hey why don't we call this Jim, instead of Jimi, you know you're more mature now" and they figured it would be like a Jim Mom'son kinda thing, you know, and oohhh... I just kinda agreed with them and let them do whatever they wanted..."

-But it's weird, as everybody knows you by the name of Jimi.
"Yeah it was a stupid move, wasn't it'? It's those Italian guys (Scotti Brothers) you know (Laughs).
Actually I recorded two albums, during that album and the first version of the al-bum is much better than the end result. I had at least 10 songs in the can that were ori-ginally recorded for that album and the record label wanted to re-do everything, so we replaced like 5 songs from the original version which I wanted to put out. It was much better before they re-placed the songs.
I still think the end product was good, but it wasn't what I thought it was going to be. I still think it's a good album. I hope (Laughs)."

-What happened after the "Too Hot To Sleep"-album when you split with the other guys (read Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan)?
"Well, the guys were tired of touring, especially Jim Pet-erik. They told me when I was going to do the soloalbum, while I was still going to keep doing Survivor also. They didn't want me to do a solo-album and that if I did the band was going to break up! So I said; "That's crazy!" But they wouldn't listen to reasons so I went and did my solo-album, we went our seperate ways, and I went home and I think Jim (Peterik) started to play with The Ides Of March and Frank started producing. I went and did my soloalbum "When Love Comes Down" (Scotti Brothers 1991), and toured for the soloalbum and then I tried to get the band Survivor back together again at one point. Frank wanted it but Jim didn't want to do it, he didn't want to put it together cause he was having fun with The Ides Of March. So Frank and I played together, I guess it was about a year or so as Survivor with other musicians (this was around 1992-93).
Frank and I started talking and we decided that we should be trying to get Jim back in the band, so I went to Chicago and Jim agreed to do it and we started working out some details, that we would split everything equal and so on.
I got home and one day I got a call saying that Jim and Frankie had got their heads together and that they couldn't split everything equal. I guess that was because they had the band before I got in it or whatever, but I couldn't do it, so I said that hey, I'm going to do a tour with a Survivor myself. So when they heard that I was doing a tour with a Survivor, about a year after this they decided that THEY wanted to tour with Survivor, they sued me and everything (Laughs). So I said: "Gee, guys, you said that you didn't want to do it. I tried to get you to do it many times", and that Frank and I had been out playing together.
But still they wanted rne to stop it and stop usling the name Survivor, so they sued me and we went to court and the Judge decided that I had just as much right to use the name as they did."

-So how is it today, is the split definite or?
"For right now it is, yeah. We talk every once in a while you know. You never know what will happen in the future but night now the band sounds better than ever.before, you wouldn't believe it. It's like a breath of fresh air, no problems and the live-shows are at least three times better than before. At least three times better. I'm serious."

-You are also said to have auditioned for Deep Purple, what about that?
"Yeah I did, and as a matter of fact I was in the band, or they said that I was in the band and I told my record label, this was around the time I was to do my solo album. Scotti Brothers said: "No way we're going to let you be in Deep Purple, we're not going to let you do it".
So I had to call Ritchic Blackmore up to tell him that they (Scotti Brothers) didn't like it at all. I would have loved playing with them. With all the original members. That record label held me back for so much stuff I can't believe it.
"Mutt" Lange called me and wanted me to do some stuff with him but they didn't let me do that either! And then when they wanted me to stop touring with Survivor I just said: "Wait a minute, you didn't let me do all that other stuff and now you want me to stop this!"
It seems like everytime I get a record deal I lose money (Laughs) I'm not kidding you. In Survivor we sold so many records that I should be a multi-millionaire, but I'm not a multi-millionaire."

-What about your band?
"Our drummer Pete Medillo was playing with Savoy Brown and the keyboard player has been playing with Michael MeDonald his name's Hal Butler. Our bassplayer I got from Seattle. I have known him before and I knew he was a great bassplayer. His name is Jeff Adams. And our guitarplayer Chris Adamson was a little guitarplayer from around town. We didn't know about him. When he came to audition for us he just came and he played like Eddle Van Halen. In fact when we played a show and there was a guy who does some Eddle Van Halen digest or something like that, and he (Chnis) got written up in that.
They didn't know his name and they were trying to find out his name cause he's so good. Really good. Like a cross between Eddie Van Halen and Yngwie (Malmsteen). It's been really good touring with this band.
We don't have a lot of pressure on us, and there's no assholes in the band (Laughs). Everybody gets along really well, most of the time. We spend some funny moments and some not-so-funny moments, but most of all the funny moments outweigh the bad ones.
We play clubs, but we play concerts too. Especially during the summertime we play festivals, we play a lot of fests, summer fest. Telephone fest, any kind of fest (Laughs). There are big crowds though. We've played like when there was 70 000 people one day, and it was great!"

-Your new stuff then. Will it come, under the name of Survivor, or will it be a solo-album?
"You know, I can't make my mind up Larry. I could do with some advice from you. It still sounds like Survivor did. Don't get me wrong but it's a little harder edged, more like what Survivor was going for around "Too Hot To Sleep". A lot of bands change their sound, like The Beatles changed their sound every record. Maybe I should get fan's just to write in and vote (Laughs).
The new material sounds pretty much like the old ma-terial (Laughs). I got a bunch of different stuff, we've written so many songs to choose from. Some of it is like the old Survivor stuff, some is like the latter Survivor stuff, like on "Too Hot To Sleep" and some is totally different. A lot of it is harder edged and lot of it is mellow, like (in the vein of) "The Search Is Over" and "Across The Miles".
We haven't signed any contract yet, but we're talking to some labels. I want to make sure that they're (the label) really into it before we do anything, and I want to make sure we have the right songs. We're still writing and we're so hard to please when it comes to songs but we're talking to a couple of different labels now. The response from the fans has been great. In fact we play in Chicago regularly and the response we get is even better than before."

-What about China? I understand you're on your way there. Are you big there?
"I don't know big, but we draw large crowds when we're there. Actually we're leaving for China on February 11th and we'll be playing some festivals there. It's both indoor and outdoor festivals. Hope it's not cold (Laughs).
We're also going to the Philippines, Guam, Kuala Lurnpur and probably Australia. So it's going to be a rather lengthy tour."

-You had a smaller hit with the Baywatch-theme song "I'm Alwavs Here". What about that?
"Yeah, I wrote that with Cory Lerlos from the band Pablo Cruise and there's some other writers credited but they didn't have anything to do with the writing (Laughs).
Oh that helped a lot as far as you know, not to have to work as much (in the public eye) and to be able to stay in the studio writing songs. Thank God for Baywatch!
We actually released the lengthened version of "I'm Always Here" in Australia as a single on CMC Records. But as far as a new albuin goes we haven't really set a tirne limit for ourselves. If I had to it would probably be toward the end of next summer sometime."

-What do you think of Survivor / Jimi Jamison's chances on today's music scene? Where will you fit in?
"Oh God I don't know... I think we have some chance. Journey's doing pretty well at the moment with "When You Love A Woman" so I think if they can do well with that we could stand a chance too. It was getting kinda doubtful for a moment, didn't know if I should do country or what (Laughs) but I don't want to jump on any bandwagon. I'm just going to do what I do. That's the best.
I think we do have a chance. It's always best to write from the heart. That's all you can do.

-What about your musicial influences?
"One of my favourites is Paul Rodgers. I love Paul Redgers and of course Elvis was a big influence and The Beatles. Lou Gramm is a big influence too. I really love his voice."

-Are you raised on radio?
"Am I raised on radio? Of course! I have listened to radio all the time. When I grew up my parents didn't have a whole lot of money to buy records and stuff so radio was all I had and over the years. The radio is where I hear most of my music. I don't sit down and put on some CD or whatever. I should I know, but I turn the radio on and listen to different stations.
I listen to all stations, from rock to classical. Except rap. I don't listen to rap (Laughs). So I grew up on radio. I used to take the radio to bed with me at night, when the Beat-les had like 5 songs on the top ten. Every night I'd take the transistor radio and sneak it to bed with me and I put my little earplug in and listen until I went to sleep."

Larry Schörling

Last Updated ( Saturday, 23 April 2005 )
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