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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Catching Up with Jimi Jamison

When you grow up in the shadow of such legendary recording studios as Stax, American, Sun, and Royal Studios, one can only imagine what a young singer from Memphis might dream. Starting out singing radio jingles and playing in a band or two, maybe. Singing live in front of more than a million people, and millions more globally over the internet… well, most of us don’t dream that big, let alone achieve it.

Jimi Jamison has.

The man who replaced Dave Bickler as the lead singer of Survivor, is currently back with the band, and sharing the vocal duties with Bickler, who returned to the group last year.

His first true taste of the rock and roll life occurred when Jamison, as part of the Memphis based band Target, recorded two albums for A&M Records. The band toured virtually non-stop in the late 70s, opening for bands such as Kiss, Black Sabbath, Styx, Robin Trower, Journey and Boston. From Target, Jamison joined Cobra and recorded First Strike for Epic Records in 1983. Soon after Cobra disbanded, Jamison was invited to audition for Survivor, when Bickler was forced to leave the band due to vocal issues. With Jamison as lead vocalist, Survivor then went on to record Vital Signs, which scored three hit singles.  Around this time MTV was changing the course of music history, and the video for “I Can’t Hold Back,” also off Vital Signs, was top in their rotation for several weeks, catapulting the band to another level of success.

After two more albums, Survivor went on hiatus, coming back with various different incarnations, both with and without Jamison. Over the course of his solo career, Jamison has released several  albums, including 2012’s critically acclaimed Never Too Late.

Jamison rejoined the Survivor lineup in 2011, and the band toured in 2012. The next year, original lead singer Dave Bickler was invited back to share the vocal duties, and the lineup of Jimi Jamison, Dave Bickler, Frankie Sullivan (lead guitar), Walter Tolentino (keys,guitar), Billy Ozzello (bass), and Marc Droubay (drums), is gearing up for a full schedule of tour dates in 2014.

After wearing out several pairs of running shoes, I caught up with Jimi Jamison, and we talked about life, looking back, and of course… music.

Kath Galasso: First what I’d like to talk to you about, is your approach to vocals. When you’re given a song to record, how do you begin the process of how you’re going to sing it?

Jimi Jamison: I really don’t form a judgment about it before I go into the studio and try to sing it. That’s how you find out if it’s something you want to do. I’ve been kind of lucky with the songs I’ve been doing. It’s really not a pre-planned thing. I listen to the song before I sing it, of course, but I always get in there and just sing it like I would sing it. That’s pretty much the only plan I have.

For the rest of the interview with Jimi Jamison, please jump over to Catching Up with Jimi Jamison over at


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