Jimi Jamison

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Jimi Jamison
Jamison performing live with Frankie Sullivan at the Sweden Rock Festival in 2013
Background information
Birth name Jimmy Wayne Jamison
Also known as Jimi Jamison, Jim Jamison
Born (1951-08-23)August 23, 1951
Durant, Mississippi
Origin Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Died August 31, 2014(2014-08-31) (aged 63)
Raleigh, Memphis, Tennessee[1]
Genres Hard rock, rock, country
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 – August 31, 2014)[2][3] was an American musician, singer, and songwriter. He had previously been a member of the platinum-selling[4] rock band Survivor. He was also a member of the band Cobra. Jamison is also known for writing and performing the theme song to Baywatch.


Jimmy Wayne Jamison was born in rural Mississippi but identified as a Memphis, Tennessee native, as he and his mother, Dorothy (1932-2009)[5] 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 he was playing in a band.[6]

By the late 1970s Jamison was fronting the local Memphis band Target. He went on to become the lead singer of the better-known band Cobra in the early 1980s. Jamison later provided background vocals for successful artists including ZZ Top, Joe Walsh and many others.

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." 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.[7]

Jamison provided an instant spark for Survivor, as his first album with the band, Vital Signs included several successful singles, catapulting them back to stardom. His second album with the band, When Seconds Count, contained another 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 [instead].'"[8]

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), "The Search Is Over" (No. 4 US) and "The Moment of Truth" for The Karate Kid.

Too Hot to Sleep, released in 1988, marked Survivor's final album of the 1980s. While Jamison and his bandmates believed it to be one of their best albums (with Jamison even citing it retrospectively as his favorite Survivor album[9]), Too Hot to Sleep suffered from a lack of promotion from the record label, and it was not as successful as previous releases. The band then went on hiatus until 1993.

Solo work[edit]

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, Lord's record label 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.[10] Jamison went on to co-write and sing "I'm Always Here," the theme to the hit TV show Baywatch and later released another solo album, Empires under the name Jimi Jamison's Survivor.

Return to Survivor 2000–2006[edit]

Jamison would later reunite with Survivor in 2000, replacing original singer Dave Bickler once again. 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 2006. He left the band soon after, and was replaced by singer Robin McAuley.

In 2008, Jamison teamed up with former Survivor member 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. In October 2011, he released an album with Bobby Kimball (former lead singer of Toto) titled Kimball/Jamison.

2011 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.[11]

A year later, Jamison released a new solo album, Never Too Late.[12] He continued to tour with Survivor until his death. His last show was on August 30, 2014 in Morgan Hill, California at the CANcert benefit event during the ARTTEC Summer Concert Series.[13] 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".

In 2009 and 2010 he performed to a sold out crowd at Firefest, the yearly melodic rock festival in Nottingham, England. He also performed at the Melodic Rock Fest in 2010 and 2013.

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.


Jamison died on September 1, 2014 at his home in Memphis, Tennessee, of a heart attack. His autopsy released on November 11, 2014 revealed the actual cause of death to be a hemorrhagic brain stroke, with "acute methamphetamine intoxication contributing".[14]


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)
  • Target (self-titled) (1976)
  • Captured – Target (1977)
  • This Ain't Hollywood, Degarmo & Key, (1980), Forefront Records
  • First Strike – Cobra (1983)
  • HeadhunterKrokus (1983) (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
  • To Extremes, Degarmo & Key, (1994), Benson
  • One Man`s Trash feat. Jimi Jamison & Fred Zahl (2011) History
  • Kimball Jamison – Bobby Kimball & Jimi Jamison, (2011), Frontiers Records
  • Karmalion, Indicco, (2013), New Venture Music


  1. ^ Callahan, Jody (August 31, 2014). "Memphis singer Jimi Jamison dies at 63". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved 2014-09-01. 
  2. ^ "Survivor singer Jimi Jamison's death was partly caused by meth abuse reveals autopsy". Daily Mail. November 12, 2014. 
  3. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/sep/03/jimi-jamison
  4. ^ Jimi Jamison Dead; Lead Singer Of Survivor Sang On Numerous Hits
  5. ^ Dorothy L. Aldy Derryberry (1932-2009) - Find a Grave Memorial Retrieved 9-5-2014.
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ 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)
  8. ^ Randall, Nancy (October 1987). "Survivor's Jimi Jamison," Nine-O-One Network, pp. 32-34.
  9. ^ Survivor- Ultimate Survivor (2004) liner notes. Accessed 9-5-2014.
  10. ^ "Jon Lord Interview at". Picturedwithin.com. October 4, 1993. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  11. ^ "MelodicRock.com". MelodicRock.com. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Jimi Jamison- Never Too Late". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  13. ^ "ARTTEC summer music series set to rock Morgan Hill". MorganHillTimes.com. Retrieved 2014-09-22. 
  14. ^ Jody Callahan (September 1, 2014). "Memphis singer Jimi Jamison of Survivor dies at 63". The Commercial Appeal. 


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