Jimi Jamison

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Jimi Jamison
Jamison performing live at the Sweden Rock Festival in 2011
Background information
Birth name Jimmy Wayne Jamison
Also known as Jimi Jamison, Jim Jamison, Jamo
Born (1951-08-23)August 23, 1951
Durant, Mississippi
Origin Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Died September 1, 2014(2014-09-01) (aged 63)
Raleigh, Memphis, Tennessee[1]
Genres Hard rock, rock, country, AOR, Pop rock, Heavy Metal, Blues
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, musician
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano
Years active 1967–2014
Labels Scotti Bros., Frontiers, Epic, A&M, ATCO
Associated acts Survivor, Cobra, Target, Jim Peterik, Bobby Kimball, Joe Walsh
Website www.jimijamison.com

Jimmy Wayne "Jimi" Jamison (August 23, 1951 – September 1, 2014)[2] was an American musician, singer, and songwriter. He had previously been the frontman of the platinum-selling[3] rock band Survivor between 1984–89, 2000–06 and from 2011 until his death.

Previously he sang for the bands D-Beaver, Target and Cobra and provided background vocals for bands like ZZ Top, Krokus, Jeff Healey Band, and many other artists. Billy Gibbons refers to Jimi as the fourth member of ZZ Top. After the disappearance of Cobra in 1983/1984, he was invited to audition for Survivor.

Jamison joined Survivor in 1984 (After the number one hit "Eye of the Tiger") and become the lead singer of other classics songs like "The Moment of Truth”, from Karate Kid, "The Search Is Over", "I Can't Hold Back", "High On You", "Is This Love?”, "Didn't Know it Was Love, "Man Against The World" and performed "Burning Heart" from Rocky IV. Then he would be separated from the band to start his solo career, but would reunited with them later.

Acclaimed continuously as one of the Top-ten best male vocalists in the world by Casey Kasem Countdown, Jimi Jamison makes a strong and powerful performance. His song,"I'm Always Here" which he wrote and performed for the #1 television show of the nineties, Baywatch, solidifies his position as one of the premier vocalists in the music industry today.

Besides his career as lead singer, he has also made six music videos and has made several appearances on television. He has been a member of the Grammy Awards Committee and member of AFTRA, SAG and HAP. He has been recognized by the Governors of Tennessee, Ohio and Arkansas for his work on and off the stage and has a large following that appears in each of his concerts.

Besides being a rock singer, Jamison has also songs from other genres such as Blues and Country. Jimi also was named Godfather of House of Culture in San Pedro de la Paz, in Chile 2009.

Jimi was 5’8’’ tall (1,73cm). He was married to Brenda Fay Jamison 1972 - 1983 and had Amy Jamison and granddaughter Lola. He later married Deborah and had 2 kids James and Lacy. They were separated 15+ years. When he wasn't traveling or performing, Jimi enjoyed gardening, throwing horseshoes and various sports like Tennis and Golf.

He died at age 63 on Monday September 1st 2014, due to a heart attack at his home in Memphis. He had just performed with the band on Saturday night in Northern California".

Early years[edit]

Jimmy Wayne Jamison was born in rural Mississippi but identified as a Memphis, Tennessee native, as he and his mother, Dorothy (1932-2009)[4] moved there when he was one day old. In his teens he taught himself to play the guitar and piano while honing his vocal abilities. By middle school (Messick Jr. High, Memphis) he was playing in a band called The Debuts, even recording what became a local hit song ("If I Cry" 1968) on the Scudder label.[5] He also was part of the band called D-Beaver with a released album (Combinations 1971).

From his humble beginnings in rural Mississippi to local superstar who resides in Memphis, his accomplishments bring to mind another legend of rock'n'roll in Memphis, Elvis Presley, whom Jimi met when he was a child, while Elvis was in one of his famous shopping sprees. In late 1970, Jamison was in front of the local band of Memphis, Target. Jamison and the group released a pair of albums, Target (1976) and Captured (1977), on A&M Records, plus a live concert at the High Cotton school (which marked the beginning of a contract with the record company) and opened concerts for Black Sabbath, Boston, and KISS.

In 1982, Jamison teamed up with Memphis-based Swiss expatriates, guitarist Mandy Meyer (ex-Krokus) and bassist Tommy Keiser, in their new band, eventually named Cobra. Rounded out by guitarist/keyboardist Jack Holder (ex-Black Oak Arkansas) and drummer Jeff Klaven and managed by Butch Stone, who had also handled Jamison's old band Target as well as Krokus and Black Oak Arkansas, the band became a fixture on the local scene and managed to score a record deal with Epic Records. The group issued their one and only album, the Tom Allom produced First Strike, in 1983. Only a moderate commercial success, the band went their separate ways in 1984, with members going on to join Asia, Krokus, and, in Jamison's case, Survivor.

Joining Survivor[edit]

After Cobra's demise in 1984, he was invited to join Survivor, whose success had been on the wane since their number-one hit, "Eye of the Tiger" and would remain in declines after the vocal problems of their singer Dave Bickler. Although he was initially not adamant about fronting what he considered more of a "pop rock" band, which would contrast significantly with the heavier stylings of Cobra to which he had become accustomed, Jamison finally after the big push by their agents and the desire of the band to choose him and not keep looking, joined and became Survivor's new frontman.[6]

Jamison appeared to provide an instant spark for Survivor, as the first song he recorded with the band, "The Moment of Truth" (theme song from the 1984 box office smash hit The Karate Kid) reached number 63 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 1984. The fifth album of the band and the first with Jamison, Vital Signs was released in August 1984 - became even more successful, peaking at number 16 on the Billboard Album Chart. It featured the hits "I Can't Hold Back" (number 13 U.S.), "High on You" (number 8 U.S.), and "The Search Is Over" (number 4 U.S.), with all songs written and composed by Jim Peterik and Fankie Sullivan.

In late 1985, Survivor achieved another hit with Jamison at the helm, "Burning Heart", from the Rocky IV movie with Sylvester Stallone, which peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 early the following year. His second album with the band, When Seconds Count was released in October 1986 and included the hit "Is This Love" (number 9 U.S.). On the Billboard Album Chart the album only reached number 49 but still managed to sell over 500,000 copies and reached certified gold status. 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" (number 86 U.S.) which also appears in the Rocky IV soundtrack. Other themes were "How Much Love" (number 51 U.S.), "Rebel Son" and "In Good Faith". One notable adjustment Jamison had to make when performing with Survivor was, not performing 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 [instead].'"[7]

Jamison composed a couple of songs for the band, "Rhythm of the City" and "Too Hot Too Sleep", for their Too Hot to Sleep release in 1988 (Survivor's final studio album of the 1980s), and Jamison even cited it retrospectively as his favorite Survivor album[8]). Too Hot to Sleep was not as successful as previous releases, although 2 singles charted, "Across the Miles" (number 74 U.S.) and "Did Not Know Love" (number 61 U.S.). The band then released a greatest hits album to close out the decade and went on hiatus until 1993.

Among his best-known performances are "Burning Heart", which reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, "The Search is Over" (number 4 U.S.), "High On You" (number 8 U.S.), "Is This Love?" (number 9 U.S.), "I Can't Hold Back" (number 13 U.S.), "How Much Love" (number 51 U.S.), "First Night" (number 53 U.S.) "Did not Know it was Love" (number 61 U.S.), "The Moment of Truth" (number 63 U.S.), "Across The Miles" (number 74 U.S.) and "Man Against the World "(number 86 U.S.).

Solo work[edit]

In 1989, Jamison contributed his own version of "Ever Since the World Began," a song Survivor had initially recorded prior to his tenure in the band, to the film Lock Up. That same year, he 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, Lord's record label was preparing to release Jamison's new album, When Love Comes Down (which eventually surfaced in 1991), and they wanted him to stay and promote the record instead of joining Deep Purple.[9]

Fans of "Baywatch" will recognize his voice, since Jamison co-wrote and sang "I'm Always Here," the theme of the hit TV series of the 90s and later released another solo album, "Empires" under the name "Jimi Jamison's Survivor" in 1999 including the theme song of the series, this album features the power of the unmistakable voice of Jamison plus the album features 3 live songs from his tours as Jimi Jamison's Survivor, "Too Hot to Sleep ","Rebel Son" and "Burning Heart". Later in 2003 after a battle in court by the name of the band, the album would come out under his own name.

Among his best known performances of his 2 albums are "Taste of Love" (appear in an episode of Baywatch), "Rock Hard", "True Lovers", "A Dream Too Far", "Run From the Thunder", "Keep it Evergreen" (Christmas song),"Empires" (duet with Lisa Frasier) and "Love is Alive" (appear in the film Mr. Deeds).

Jamison wrote and sang the theme song of the WWE Hall of Famer, Big Boss Man, being for the WWF. Throughout the nineties, Jamison made too many sessions and demos which today still appearing songs that did not light, all in collaboration with different artists, friends and composers, for example: The Mofo Sessions with Steve Cox in 1993 has songs almost Blues style. Have Mercy: the Demos are themes performed while on tour as Jimi Jamison's Survivor including the themes "Power Over me" and "Every beat of my Heart" (that would taken by the Atlantic band). "Never Surrender "and" When the Heart Takes Control" they were scheduled to appear in the Stallone’s film, Rocky V, but did not. The rest of the demos can be found as Jamo Sessions.

Jimi Jamison's Survivor[edit]

In 1992, Jamison began touring, billing his band as "Survivor" or "Jimi Jamison's Survivor." After Jamison's success touring overseas that year, original Survivor guitarist and founding member Frankie Sullivan contacted Jamison's management and asked to be included on the tour; he performed on eight to ten dates before leaving the group. Soon after, in late 1992–early 1993, Survivor was tapped to do a new and more extensive greatest hits package with two new songs. For a short time, Peterik, Sullivan and Jamison were reunited in the studio to record new material for the new package and forthcoming world tour. But after contract talks broke down, Jamison quit and went back on the road again as "Jimi Jamison's Survivor."

At this point, Sullivan, along with fellow Survivor cofounder Jim Peterik filed a lawsuit against their former colleague for using the name but ultimately failed (at the time) in their bid to stop Jamison from touring under the "Survivor" banner. However, in late September 1999, Sullivan, who had brought forth another lawsuit against Jamison, won ownership of the name "Survivor," thereby ending the ongoing trademark battle.

Return to Survivor 2000–2006[edit]

Jamison would later reunite with Survivor in 2000, replacing original singer Dave Bickler once again. The band then began recording material for a new album. The Peterik–Sullivan-penned track "Velocitized" was set for inclusion on the soundtrack to the Stallone film Driven. However, it did not make the cut. They also did a tour, the band Styx and REO Speedwagon followed. The meeting also took the band to Germany for a long series of concerts for several months.

In 2005, Jamison was featured with the band in the Emmy Award-nominated Starbucks commercial which parodied Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger". Jamison remained with the band up through the release of their long-awaited album, Reach, in April 2006, album that has songs where Jamison made with Peterik and Sullivan which were "Give Me the Word" collaborated with his daughter Amy, "Reach", "Don't Give Up", "Home" and has a theme that had already prepared in the 90s, "Rhythm of your Heart". He left the band soon after, and was replaced by singer Robin McAuley.

Return to Solo Work/Collaborations[edit]

In 2005 he worked with Whitney Wolanin for the theme, "It Takes Two".

In 2008, Jamison teamed up with his former Survivor bandmate, Jim Peterik and released a solo album called Crossroads Moment in Europe. The album was produced by Peterik and released in the United States in 2009 with one more song, "Streets of Heaven". Then, in 2010, an album titled Extra Moments surfaced, featuring songs from the Jamison/Peterik collaboration that didn't appear on Jamison's previous album and same songs sung by Peterik.

Jamison at the When Rock Meet Classic.

In 2009 and 2010, he performed to a sold out crowd at Firefest, the yearly Melodic Rock Festival in Nottingham, England. Counting the hits "It's the Singer not the Song", "Caught in the Game", "Did not Know it was Love", "I See you in Everyone", "Is This Love", own songs like "Blood on your Money" (Cobra), "A Dream Too Far ", "Crossroads Moments", "I'm Always Here" and ending with "Burning Heart" and "Eye of The Tiger". He also performed at the Melodic Rock Fest in 2010 and 2013.

In 2010 gave birth to a pair of singles, "Would not It Feel Like Christmas" a Christmas song and "House That Love Built," one of Jimi benefit to the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis. He also performed at the annual concert and event When Rock Meets Classic in Germany, singing the songs "Burning Heart", "I Can’t Hold Back", "The Search is Over".

In October 2011, he released an album with Bobby Kimball (former lead singer of Toto) titled Kimball/Jamison a great material fact both which according to Kimball they would have released a second album by request of Frontiers Records, but unfortunately Jamison was already dead by then. That same year, he joined the band One Man's Trash with Fred Zahl, and they released the album History premiering the theme "Long Time" in one of his presentations in Germany.

A year later, Jamison launched in collaboration with Peterik, a collection of unreleased songs to the Country genre that are mostly material that Jimi and Peterik worked in a kind of fun experiment before Frontiers Records asked them to make Crossroads Moments, entitled " Unreleased Music "including the issue of Peterik’s ex-group (Pride of Lions)" the Sound of Home "and" Heart of a Woman "from the album "Extra Moments ". In November 2012 he released what would be his last solo album, "Never too Late" album that Jamison wanted to return with a melodic Hard Rock reminding 80s but modern course.

He continued to tour with Survivor until his death. Soon after, it gave birth themes he had done, one in collaboration with Pearl Gem, "Forever Ended Today" and "Summer Rains" with Radioactive. It also has other themes in collaboration, "Space Cowboy" with Jordan Rudess, "L.A. Woman", "Comin 'Home" with Dominoe and worked with Indicco in some of their songs from their album "Karmalion".

Second return to Survivor[edit]

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 Shane Mosley 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.[10]

His last show was on August 30, 2014 in Morgan Hill, California at the CANcert benefit event during theARTTEC Summer Concert Series.[11] Survivor's 58 minute set consisted of "Feels Like Love", "Broken Promises", "Take You On A Saturday", "High On You", "Rockin' into the Night", "The Search is Over", "Rebel Girl", "I Can't Hold Back", "Burning Heart", "Poor Man's Son", "It's The Singer Not The Song" and ended with "Eye Of The Tiger".


Jamison died on September 1, 2014 at his home in Memphis, Tennessee, of a heart attack.[12] His autopsy revealed the actual cause of death to be a hemorrhagic brain stroke, with a heart attack.


Jamison has earned massive critical acclaim for his vocal abilities, having been praised by such luminaries as Casey Kasem,[13] former Survivor bandmate Jim Peterik,[14] and many others.[15][citation needed]

Like Elvis, Jimi has never forgotten where he came from, Jamison was well known for his contributions to charity, and had been a participant in the annual fundraising charity "Christmas background Rockin" among others. He participated with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the benefits to the Children's Research Hospital St. Jude each year, St. Jude Children's Ranch Birthday Club Sponsorship, Special Olympics, and the ARF Foundation with Tony La Russa of the St. Louis Cardinals. He was also a founding member of the Voices of Classic Rock organization and Voices of Rock Radio.


With Survivor[edit]


  • "If I Cry" (solo single; credited to "The Debuts") (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)
  • Live at the High Cotton School - Target (1975)
  • Target (self-titled) (1976)
  • Captured – Target (1977)
  • This Ain't Hollywood, Degarmo & Key, (1980), Forefront Records
  • First Strike – Cobra (1983)
  • Live Attack - Cobra (1983)
  • HeadhunterKrokus (1983) (background vocals)
  • Deed Is Done - Molly Hatchet (1984) (background vocals)
  • Got Any Gum?Joe Walsh (1987) (background vocals)
  • Worrall – Rick & Steve Worrall, (1991), with Shawn Lane, re-release on Yesterrock Records
  • Ordinary Average Guy – Joe Walsh (1991) (background vocals)
  • Songs for a Dying Planet – Joe Walsh (1992) (background vocals)
  • Heat It Up, Degarmo & Key, (1993), Sony BMG
  • The Mofo Sessions (1993)
  • To Extremes, Degarmo & Key, (1994), Benson
  • Have Mercy: The Demos (2000)
  • History - One Man`s Trash feat. Jimi Jamison & Fred Zahl (2011)
  • Unreleased Music (2012)
  • Karmalion, Indicco, (2013), New Venture Music


  1. ^ Callahan, Jody (September 1, 2014). "Memphis singer Jimi Jamison dies at 63". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved 2014-09-01. 
  2. ^ Joel McIver. "Jimi Jamison obituary". the Guardian. 
  3. ^ "Jimi Jamison Dead; Lead Singer Of Survivor Sang On Numerous Hits". The Huffington Post. September 1, 2014. 
  4. ^ Dorothy L. Aldy Derryberry (1932-2009) - Find a Grave Memorial Retrieved 9-5-2014.
  5. ^ Living Legends Music. 08/12/2008. "Jimi Jamison - Growing Up in Memphis." Jimi Jamison Interviews, originally recorded 07/03/2008 in Lake Mary, Florida. Retrieved November 10, 2008 from YouTube (search: "Jimi Jamison")(see also http://livinglegendsmusic.com)
  6. ^ Living Legends Music. 08/12/2008. "Jimi Jamison - Survivor, 'A Really Good Feelin.'" Jimi Jamison Interviews, originally recorded 07/03/2008 in Lake Mary, FL. Retrieved November 10, 2008 from YouTube (search: "Jimi Jamison")(see also http://livinglegendsmusic.com)
  7. ^ Randall, Nancy (October 1987). "Survivor's Jimi Jamison," Nine-O-One Network, pp. 32-34.
  8. ^ Survivor- Ultimate Survivor (2004) liner notes. Accessed 9-5-2014.
  9. ^ "Jon Lord Interview at". Picturedwithin.com. October 4, 1993. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  10. ^ "MelodicRock.com". MelodicRock.com. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  11. ^ "ARTTEC summer music series set to rock Morgan Hill". MorganHillTimes.com. Retrieved 2014-09-22. 
  12. ^ Jody Callahan (September 1, 2014). "Memphis singer Jimi Jamison of Survivor dies at 63". The Commercial Appeal. 
  13. ^ Casey Kasem's mini-biography of Jimi Jamison Retrieved 5-22-2016.
  14. ^ Peterik, Jim (2014). Through the Eye of the Tiger. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books.
  15. ^ Boone, Joe (2014). "Jimi Jamison 1951-2014" Memphis Flyer September 11, 2014 Retrieved 5-22-2016.

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