2003 : Bobby Hatfield, Righteous Brother, Dies in Kalamazoo

November 5, 2021 all-day

Bobby Hatfield was the tenor half of The Righteous Brothers, alongside baritone Bill Medley. His death occurred in Kalamazoo just before he was ready to go onstage on November 5, 2003.

Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley had been a team ever since 1962; they started in a group called The Paramours, then branched out as a duo. After one particular performance, a man stood up in the audience and shouted, “that was righteous, brothers!” and that’s the name they went with.

The Righteous Brothers released a good number of hits, the most well-known being “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” (1964, the most programmed song in U.S. radio history), “Soul And Inspiration” (1966), “Rock And Roll Heaven” (1974), and the one that featured Bobby’s most popular vocal, “Unchained Melody” in 1965.

The Righteous Brothers were on tour with scheduled dates in Michigan and Ohio. On November 5, 2003, they were staying at the Radisson Hotel in Kalamazoo and performing just a couple of miles away at Miller Auditorium. The show was preparing to begin in a half hour and Hatfield hadn’t shown up yet. Medley and their road manager went to Hatfield’s room to see what was keeping him and they found him lying dead on his bed.

John Robinson, “Death of a Pop Star: Kalamazoo, 2003 “, 99.1 WFMK Blog, July 30, 2021.