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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Eye of the Tiger singer Dave Bickler on creating the classic track and his upcoming solo album

The former frontman of Survivor says Eye of the Tiger was written and recorded quickly for actor Sylvester Stallone

Former Survivor frontman Dave Bickler sings the classic Eye of the Tiger at the top of at Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah
Former Survivor frontman Dave Bickler sings the classic Eye of the Tiger at the top of at Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah

He is the voice that inspired millions of athletes and gym work outs for more than 30 years.

Since its release in 1982 as part of Sylvester Stallone’s blockbuster film Rocky 3, Eye of The Tiger by the US rock band Survivor remains regarded as the ultimate sporting anthem and continues to get the blood flowing of fans when performed live.

This occurred last night when the band’s former frontman Dave Bickler performed the track on top of Ras Al Khaima’s Jebel Jais in the first of two concerts dubbed Rock vs Classics. The program had Bickler perform three song sets (which included Can’t Hold Back and Burning Heart) alongside two of his contemporaries, Bill Champlin and Bobby Kimball, both were the former frontmen of Chicago and Toto respectively.

The second and final show begins tonight at 7.30pm.

Backed by the majestic sounds of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, Eye of the Tiger’s signature galloping riffs were matched with sweeping strings and clarinets as the 65-year-old Bickler delivered that fist pumping chorus with ease.

“That was great man,” he says backstage after his slot.

“To be able to fly over to such a place, to be on this mountain, and to generally being able to perform for as long as I have is just something I don’t take for granted.”

Not that Bickler has been idle since the heyday of Survivor.

In addition to his several stints with the group – the first ended in 1983 before returning for a seven-year stretch in 1993 and for another three-year period in 2013 – Bickler carved a successful career singing a variety of radio sporting jingles for US radio, most of which channelled the emotion of Eye of the Tiger.

For such a career defining song, Bickler recalls that it was created swiftly and on a tight deadline.

“That song, for some reason resonates with so many people and remains un-killable,” he says.

“It was created in a pretty rapid process. Stallone was looking for something for the opening fight scene of Rocky 3. Now he knew some people from the label and asked if they knew any band that could create a track that would fit the scene.

“Stallone was passed a copy of our second album Premonition and he liked it. He gave the opportunity to the band's songwriters (Frankie Sullivan and Jim Peterik) along with some rough footage from the movie and they picked up certain things to write the song. The funny thing is that I never heard the song before, the drummer and I just rocked up to the studio, we learned our parts and performed it right there.”

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Now Bickler is set to call the musical shots. With his solo debut album, Dark Light, to be released in the next few months, he is looking forward to mixing some of his newer songs with the much loved classic material.

While the album sounds polished, Bickler says fans of his Survivor days should be pleased by the end result.

“It is a modern sounding record but with that classic rock vibe,” he says.

“Of-course, music changes and develops and that’s the same with today’s rock. But one thing I will say that during my era from the 1060’s, 70s and 80’s you always knew by the singer’s voice you are listening to. Now, it’s a harder to tell the difference.”

Rock vs Classic concert will be held at Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah on May 5. 7.30pm. Tickets from Dhs300 at tickets.virginmegastore.me

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