Auburn News

Alumnus brings new ‘Soul and Inspiration’ to the Righteous Brothers

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Bucky Heard (left) ’89 performs with Bill Medley (right) in their revival of the Righteous Brothers.

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It was 1974. Bucky Heard ’89 sat in his childhood home and belted his 9-year-old heart out to the then-new Righteous Brothers hit “Rock And Roll Heaven,” imagining himself on stage just like Bobby Hatfield.

Now, at 50 years old, Heard stands in Hatfield’s place and does exactly what he’d spent hours practicing as a child.

Bill Medley united with Heard last week for the opening shows at their new Righteous Brothers act at Harrah’s Las Vegas. The fresh duo welcomed crowds of hundreds.

“I mean, back then I wore it out trying to sound like Bobby Hatfield and trying to hit all those high notes,” Heard said. “It’s just surreal that 40 years later I’m standing on stage singing it with the real guy!”

After Hatfield passed away in 2003, Medley wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to revive the music they enjoyed together. It was more than just a duet; it was a true friendship.

A few years later, Medley’s and Heard’s paths crossed around the music scene in Branson, Missouri, where Heard regularly sang in tribute bands and taught vocal lessons. Medley has a home there and would often perform around town, too.

Although the two and had been friends for over a decade, it wasn’t until Medley heard Heard in a Journey tribute that he realized his vocal strength and range.

Medley thought his musical talent and their existing friendship might have been the ingredients needed to resurrect the Brothers’ blue-eyed soul.

“Bill, he’s had a lot of singers that can sing the part, but he’s been looking for somebody that he felt comfortable with on stage,” Heard said. “He said he came in a Righteous Brother, he’ll go out as a Righteous Brother.”

It looks like that will be the case.

Before their show premiered in Las Vegas last week, the Righteous Brothers tested their act in a series of five shows in Laughlin, Nevada, and they sold out every night.

“Keeping a cool head on my shoulders and not thinking about the magnitude of what I’m doing has been a challenge,” Heard said. “I tell everybody I’m honored to be standing up here with Bill Medley, keeping this music going. I’m in no way trying to take Bobby Hatfield’s place, because no one can ever take his place. Like you, I am a Righteous Brothers fan.”

Their show at Harrah’s will continue through June 11, but Heard says they’re already in talks about extending their stay. He says he’s up for anything.

“I’m just living in the moment and taking it day by day, seeing what’s going to happen,” Heard said. “You don’t get a chance like this very often.”

Whether it’s for just one year or for 20 years, Heard is grateful to stand in the place of the singer he’s idolized since he was a child.

“I hope that Bobby’s up there looking down from Rock And Roll Heaven and that he’s pleased with the person Bill chose to keep the Righteous Brothers alive.”

Watch out for more on Bucky’s righteous new gig in an upcoming edition of Auburn Magazine, and click here for show times and more information.