Jim Peterik gained an army of loyal fans through his work with Survivor in the 80s. As one of the biggest hit makers of the AOR/melodic rock scene, the already veteran performer struck song writing gold with Frankie Sullivan, and the pair knocked out hit after hit. Their original seven album run between 1979-88 is almost perfect. Outside of Survivor, Peterik also put his name to big selling singles by .38 Special, tunes recorded by Sammy Hagar and Cheap Trick, and also worked with Night Ranger’s Kelly Keagy. In AOR terms, the man is a bona fide legend. Unfortunately, in the 21st Century, he has become more obsessed with writing material that sounds like it belongs in a stage musical. Although this style has its fans, its overbearing and grandiose nature – as evidenced on his work with Pride of Lions with Toby Hitchcock and bits of Dennis DeYoung’s final work, ‘26 East, Vol 1 & Vol 2’ – really doesn’t suit everyone. There are lots of times when ploughing through these huge works, that an older Peterik fan might wish Jim would return to something less…bombastic.
Formed in 2003, Pride of Lions is a melodic rock band that combines the musical talents and songwriting of ex-Survivor legend Jim Peterik and vocalist Toby Hitchcock. Their sound blends old style melodic rock with the bombast of musical theatre – a musical mix that’s surely won them as many detractors as genuine fans. Peterik’s gift for a huge chorus has remained obvious, but in Hitchcock, he’s found a musical partner who is often so overbearing that his voice tends to smother any real melodicism Peterik’s songs might have had. This made their first five albums very hard on the ears. It’s not that Hitchcock isn’t talented in his own way – his ‘Reckoning’ solo album from 2019 is actually very good for what it is – it’s just that working with Peterik always tended to bring out his worst vocal excesses. [Peterik’s bloated musical theatre sound, meanwhile, was much better suited to superior singer Dennis De Young…and even that produced mixed results.]
Beloved by many within the melodic rock community, Dennis De Young is someone worthy of being called a legend. His years spent recording with pomp rock legends Styx gave the world a handful of classic albums. His on/off solo career also brought big success in the US, with his 1983 album ‘Desert Moon’ being highly praised. He even wrote a musical based on The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In terms of a career, after fifty years, he’s pretty much done it all.
All good things must come to an end and with his ’26 East’, Dennis closes his half-century in the spotlight the best way he knows how. Few would have the balls to say goodbye with a double volume of autobiographical material (except, perhaps, Neal Morse), but DeYoung makes such an indulgent concept seem like a fitting epitaph.
Jim Peterik is a legend. His work on various Survivor albums cements his place in the melodic rock history books, regardless of anything he has written or recorded since the 80s. Tracks like ‘American Heartbeat’, ‘Jackie Don’t Go’, ‘I Can’t Hold Back’ and ‘Poor Man’s Son’ are stone cold classics…and of course, it would take a hard heart not to be amused by the ‘Eye of The Tiger’ video with Survivor attempting to look tough whilst stomping through a warehouse.
Peterik’s post-Survivor projects have, understandably, been less high profile. After all, how can you follow a million selling rock band, radio play and worldwide number one singles?