Survivor - Part 1 - Frankie Sullivan (2006)



Part 1 - Frankie Sullivan


G'Day Frankie.
So I finally get to talk to you….we've never spoken have we?

I don't recall speaking on the phone to you Frankie. I know we've swapped e-mails back and forth and were doing so regularly there several years back.
I'm not sure that we were on the best of terms though when we stopped communicating.

Well you and I never talked did we.

That's the problem then.
I don't know if it's a problem, but it's always nice to talk to friends…sure.

Much better than e-mailing.
Absolutely, so it's cool.

Good stuff. You must be pleased to have a record to release.
Yeah…..I am….I think all of us are. But you know. I don't know if it's just about having a record, you gotta be happy. It's gotta be something…it's gotta be authentic.
I think that's more important than just releasing the music. What goes on nowadays – and it's great – we have such access to just unbelievable music these days. Think about it….it's just phenomenal.
I think that in our case….I know this is not just me talking. I tried to do the best we could do.

Ok, you've come close a couple of times in the last few years – getting a record finished. Why now…why did this come together now?
As fate would have it, it just came together, the higher powers, as God would have it…turned out to be great timing.
We had the time, we had some of the material, we had time go through the material, which was really cool, so we just went for it.

Speaking of the material….there are several tracks from the last few years that have been sitting around and a few new ones as well right?
Oh sure…Um…you know…when I went in to describe…and it's easy for me, people that know me creatively – and there's only one or two…. I had to look at this and I didn't have a choice.
It was an easy choice and its fun. I don't put up any fences up; I don't put up any rules when it comes to choosing the material. I think you throw down everything you got and I have a catalogue of about 400 songs, so obviously you have to go through that.
I threw down most of the stuff I converted to CDs and said there are no boundaries here.
It is about creatively and it's about the better song and the best song…it's not about politics, who or why or when.
It's about how do you feel about the song.
Its easy for people to say Andrew….those are words that may come out easily but I think following them – there are artists that might struggle with them.
But I had no boundaries; I just listened to everything behind me here in my home studio. I have a wall that is filled with CDs and DATs and a bunch of 2-Inch tapes.
I just started listening. I haven't listened to this stuff for 2 or 3 years.

It must be nice to have such a range of material to draw from.
Well, I think it is…it is a blessing. Like I told you – no fences, no boundaries, no rules. Let's take a look at the material and pick the best songs and go for it.

I'll get to the material on therein a moment, but to side-step quickly…it is surprising the time frame between the last Survivor album and this one. Life goes by very quickly…
Isn't that the case…you know what, when your children are in college you will look back and wonder where in heck has all this time has gone. I won't waste my words and say Andrew, enjoy it, although Andrew – enjoy it! It goes by so fast it is unbelievable.
I think that as we age, grow older…you get a better perspective. We get older and wiser and time goes even faster. All over the world, we can't do anything fast enough anymore.
We are all chasing the hands of time. What is this really all about? I'm a pretty simple guy, but mortality is part of life.

How was the bands input on this? How long have you been back with Jimi now? 5 years?
Since 2000 I think. Yeah, he's…you know, we love each other. It may have started to have something to do with business, but I just think it has to do with…we get on and no matter what happens, Jimi and I love each other, we are like brothers.

You have put the difficulties of the past behind you then?
Oh, you know…I don't even think that it crosses our minds. Jim is totally into it, he is beyond me with that, so I doubt he even thinks about it.
I am more into about being in the moment and he's more 'what can we do today?'
So when we combine them…it's a good combination.

You sound like you are in a very settled head-space.
Oh absolutely…sure. Part of being in the now is you think it, then you start to live it. I like it and Jim is more concerned with what we can do today, and I think the combination is very cool. So you don't question it.

You think Survivor can get on a bit of a roll now and perhaps go back in the studio and do another album next year?
Um…absolutely. I try not to look that far down the road, but sure we can. I think it has to do with taking it one day at a time and I think the realities of 2006 are a lot different that '82, or '85 or 2000 even.

They are indeed.
But, we all know that…you know that with the job you do. I think that the band has been on a roll. We have evolved…just finding a bass player….along came Barry. As I always tell him when I see him, it's always a pleasure. He has one of the best attitudes for being in a band.

And Marc has been with you for a long time now.
Oh, I have personally known Marc since 1975.

Oh yeah. I knew Marc a good 6 years before he joined the band. I was in that band Mariah…you may not be aware of them. We made a record in between my Junior and Senior year when I was in high school, for this label United Artists, which at one time were huge, but of course are now long since defunct. The president at the time would go on to head CBS Records for about 30 years.
It's kinda funny how things went. We made that record and we'd go out and play bars and all over Southern California, such a happening scene.
There was a band that opened for us, called The Toots…I used to watch them and their drummer was amazing.
The first night I got to jam with them was after hours….about 3am…I got to stand on stage with him and go a good look at him…the power and the vibe that emanates from him is amazing.
This was '75. This band started in '77, by the time we needed another drummer it was '80-'81. I found out that he worked for a marketing company, on the phones.
I was like, how am I going to find this guy?
I had this 800 number….you know how these companies work, hundreds of employees. I thought I'd call and see if anyone knew him.
When I called there….he answered the phone! I said I was looking for a Marc Droubay and would you be able to help me at all? He said yeah, 'you are talking to him!'

Get outta here…
Yeah, it's the absolute truth and Marc will tell you the same thing. Jim Peterik will tell you the same too.
I think a day or two later we were in rehearsals and Jim and I were writing songs like Poor Man's Son and Take You On A Saturday and Marc was just ripping on drums.
True story.

I like that a lot.
Yeah, then what was lacking was a bass player. Jim and I decided – back there in 1981 I think – roller skating was huge at the time and in the middle of the people skating was a band playing. Jim and I were hanging out and we have always had great mind-sync.
I said that's the kind of bass player we need. Jim says I've talked to him, he's open…he's going to come down and play with us tomorrow.
That was Steph (Stephan Ellis). Looking back on it, it was quite an evolution at the time…over two or three days. It was meant to be and also it was really Jim Peterik – Jim and I were so appreciative of these two musicians – Marc and Steph – that it sparked a writing spree that lead to what I still love – which was the Premonition record.

That's a real cult favourite amongst Survivor fans isn't it?
It's a great record – if I dare say so.

Absolutely you are allowed to say so. I think Survivor doesn't at times get enough credit. If you look at the first 3 or 4 records at the start of the 80s, there is barely a filler among 40 or 50 tracks you recorded.
Well that's am awfully huge compliment.

Not at all, the catalogue of material is just so strong.
Well, they way I just described to you that it came about was so inspiring to Jim and I as writers and the next couple of weeks we wrote songs like Poor Man's Son and it was rocking.
Maybe you are right – I know the point you are making. I think we've had a rich history of players playing and of materials…songs. In the end, that's what we always went back to.
It was always about the songs, but we also knew we were in a rock n roll band and the guys we are playing with have to have the vibe to deliver these songs or we are writing them in vain.

You and Jim Peterik had an amazing chemistry.
Oh, I agree with you. Let me put this on the table right away. I agree with you and that has nothing to do with ego. It has to do with our chemistry and how I and Jim and how we felt writing together.
We had a great vibe and a work ethic. The way we work – we had this work ethic back then. We worked hard – half of the business is about that – every musician works hard to gain a yard, but Jim and I had this special connection. We had this great work ethic and when we sat down to write songs we were able to close the door to the outside world and when we came out of the room we had a song that people seemed to always like.
Did we know they'd like it? Hell no, but we worked really hard.

There is a Survivor Greatest its album that I feel is about half as sort as it should be.
Ha! You're like me.

I don't think it does the band justice.
Well, that's another compliment, thank you Andrew.




I was pleased last year when BMG finally corrected that and put out the Ultimate Survivor.
Yeah, they did that didn't they?

Jeremy, who was responsible for that, is a buddy of mine.
Jeremy? He's a great young cat. I always used to tease him – I said 'what's left of the business is in your hands!'

He put together a great compilation.
As an artist he was just wonderful to work with. Terrific to work with.

And you and Jim both contributed to the liner notes – it was a great package.
I agree with you – I was very proud. I always tip my hat to people like Jeremy; it was great dealing with him. He's committed to telling a story as factual of possible. He put a lot of his gut into that project and I love him for it.

It pays a better tribute to the legacy that is Survivor.
Thank you Andrew. I agree with you. From my perspective, you wouldn't believe it. You know, I was excited, it was something great to do. He was dedicated to that and he said 'I'm a fan and I want to make it the best it can be'. He stayed on it and he delivered.

I'm not sure of the precise history of where it went wrong between you and Jim, and the writing partnership….I held out some hope that a project like that might see you guys consider working together again. Or at least, I got you talking again.
Oh yeah…sure….what is it you are asking me Andrew? You can be pretty blunt with me.

I have a couple of tough questions. Ok, so I'd like to see it happen, but I am not sure you and Jim will work together again.
Are you asking me if I'd work with Jim again?

Absolutely. Under what circumstances do you think it could happen?
I don't really think about this that much. I had to call Jim…I wanted to let him know what songs we were going to use [for Reach], get his new publishing info.

I got to tell you. It was fun. For those few days there was e-mails and phone calls and it was like we had never parted. I mean, if you are saying 'is there a possibility'….I don't know…why wouldn't there be?

If you are asking me has somebody closed the door? No, I don't think either one of us has closed the door.
Just last Thursday I got a letter from a couple of fans in Canada. They had sent me a couple of CDs from the second or third gig we played. The one thing that stood out from in this letter – he said 'the fans all know about the differences between you and Jim'.
Well…why don't they let me in on it, because I don't.

You're not sure what those differences were?
At that point in time, I had a 3 page letter and was just able to see those words and I wanted to respond to him. I was writing him back…I said to myself, how do I respond to that?

Ok, so what's your take on this? Where did it go wrong, were did the communication break down?
I don't think it ever did…my opinion. I just think there comes a point in time in any band where you know, it can be viable.
If you throw in a couple of spits of gasoline, you are going to start a fire.
We had at that point in time made a record without Marc and Steph…um…Jimmy, our singer was making a solo record, which we had no idea about.
There really is a lot I reflect on, but a lot of things that contributed to it at that time…

…that had nothing to do with Peterik and Sullivan or Sullivan and Peterik. It just simply had to do with what happens to bands.

The politics of it?
Yes, absolutely.

I understand. You have to work together again though…
You know…we were laughing about it. If you are asking me if I have bad feelings or bitterness in my heart or something like that towards Jim…

Yes, well I guess so.
Well, I absolutely do not.

I think Jim feels the same way. I've spent some time with Jim and I believe that.
In fact, I played a show about 2 months ago and Jim played the same show. We came down to a lobby call and him and I were like boom – we'd never left. Same jokes, same lines…it was fun.

You need to do that again then.
If you're asking me if I have bitterness in my heart, or hard feelings or whether I have said I'll never work with this f-ing guy again…absolutely no.

Great to hear that Frankie. Really good. I should quickly jump back to the Reach album before we get any further away from it!

So, the album – the thing that struck me about it – it's a mellower Survivor. It is a more mature, reflective, mellower Survivor this time around.
Interesting. Now, when you say mellower, what is it you mean?

Well, there are 4 or 5 ballads through the middle of the album. That struck me as an interesting move. Not as uptempo as past records.
Of course Reach is classic Survivor and Seconds Away and One More Time are tremendous ballads.

Thanks so much Andrew.

I was blown away by those, but there are 3 or 4 more tracks that follow in a similar tempo. Perhaps Survivor has mellowed in their age – sorry, not wanting to prematurely age you here.
That's ok. Um…I don't know. I don't think so. Somewhere along the line between Seconds Away and Rhythm Of Your Heart we came up with something like Gimmie The Word you know…things like that.
We still like to rock. We still like to rock.





Well, you definitely do on Reach. And Fire Makes Steel is great.
Love that song, I always have.

Was that the first pick for the album?
You know we didn't.

I think some of the demos of that era has leaked and has been dubbed as the Fire Makes Steel album.
I listened to all that stuff. What material do we want to do? There are songs obviously you can't turn your back on. Fire Makes Steel would be an obvious example. Then there are songs that I wrote with Jim like Rhythm Of Your Heart that shows off the voice of Jim Jamison, that have a good lyric and you know, it's one of those songs that only Jim Jamison can do.
You throw it down on the table and say, this is a ballad and I say we cut it. I'm very pleased with that as well.

Ok. I'm also very curious about the debut of this new vocalist in the band.
Oh God. Oh boy….oh….

What lead that to be?
Oh…well, it goes back to the fact I always sing a bridge here or there. I always did tons of singing or sang the demos that Jim and I would write.
We were like kids, you have to understand this – we never grew up. We want to hear it, so I'd say 'let me throw a rough vocal down here'.
That was part of the element and we had written this song Nevertheless. That song was written, unknowingly, for me to sing. At the time we didn't know it, but when we did the demo and subsequently, we tried or attempted to put a different vocal on it, we decided it didn't sound as good. So it was like 'ok, you're going to have to sing this one'.

So you actually tried it with Jimi on vocals.
Um…no, because Jim loved it with me singing it.

Jim's got a great instinct. He always said, 'you did a great job with this'. He loved the demo. Back in the days with Jim, Jim Peterik and I…I always have these different ideas. It ended up where I was singing the song and people liked it.
When we recorded it, I said 'ok, I'll sing it'. And it was one I had a good time with and I think it's a rock n roller.

You know, one of my favourite songs on the album is Talkin' Bout Love.
Are you kidding me? That's a huge compliment.

Well, it sounds a little different than the rest of the material – your voice takes it somewhere different, but it's classic Survivor in style.
Thank you so much. It is a song I wrote a lot of on my own. The lyric and melody I wrote on my own and again, I sang the demo - it is a song that is in my range and when it came down to the studio, Jim Jamison was the reason why I actually sang it.
He said 'Frankie, you have to sing this song, I can't sing this song'.
I said, 'you can sing the Yellow Pages, don't give me BS. What is it?' He said 'I just think you sang this song great – just sing the song.'
You know Andrew, I sing all the backgrounds on the Survivor records – its part of the sound.

Of course.
He just said, 'at the end of the day, I'd just really love to hear you sign this song.'
I said but I sing Nevertheless. He says, 'yeah, but you have all these harmonies and things that you are hiding behind. Sing this one – let it be raw.'
I just said 'does that mean you won't sing it Jim?' He said, 'I don't want to sing it. You are stuck with it.'
I just did the best I can do. For me it is a matter of capturing the vibe. I don't have the throat, the larynx or the vibe that Jim Jamison does.
And then you think about do I want to be sandwiched between two songs that Jim Jamsion sings? Not really!
You have to see that from my perspective. I call him old golden throat. Inside joke. He just has a golden throat. But at the end of the day – isn't it more about the spirit and the vibe?
I had a really good time, we did a couple of takes and we were done. There you have it.
Thanks for your compliment though.





I noticed with Jimi singing – he sounds sweet and soulful on a few tracks, but them quite raspy and raw in other places.
Um, with me, and especially when Jim's on the other side of the glass, I think he can trust me with this…it is a lot about capturing the performance rather than perfection.
Rather than 'can I understand every single syllable or word', it is more about the performance and the vibe of it.
Some of the stuff….well, it sounds a little bit….like you just said. You go, 'let's try that again', then you realize that how he sings this song. Then it is all about 'well, let me just get a great performance'. It's pretty easy to do that.
And maybe if he comes out and listens to it and maybe he wants to re-cut a couple of things then it's done.
It's really that quick. What you are speaking off – that rawness – it's capturing him in the moment. I think it's without him thinking about singing or sounding like he's singing Can't Hold Back or Search Is Over.
I think it is about the other side of Jim. It is more about his vibe.
You don't have much time. When you are producing someone that can sing that well you have to capture that performance, that's your job and that's what we did and that's what you hear.
I think there is something beautiful and I think that rawness and what he's doing in the moment and how he sounds and not being directed and not being told to sing this way….just how he feels it. I love that out of him.
He delivers it well doesn't he?

One of my favourite singers.
And one of mine.

You have touched on something there that I'm going to jump to. You have produced several other artists in recent years. You obviously enjoy that side of things?
Oh I love it.

Ok, another compliment here – you seemed to bring out the best in Eddie Money on his last studio record – Ready Eddie.
That's a huge compliment. You know what; I have to do more interviews with you Andrew. My ego…I don't like that ugly thing called ego, but it makes you feel good when some body appreciates the job you've done. That's a great compliment.
I must say that Ed is another vibe guy and it's about capturing what he does best. It's all about knowing what he doesn't do best. I have known him for a long time.
He has a great vibe and if you capture that vibe, you'll make a great Eddie Money record.
You can't turn Eddie Money into something else like a pop singer, or you'll get a lousy record.

I think Ready Eddie was universally praised by fans as one of his great records.
I didn't know that. It's so great to hear these things. I loved making that record.

It sounds like it – you and Curt Cuomo made a good team I though.
Oh yeah, we did. It was just plan old fun. And of course, I got to play the guitars and sing the backgrounds. All the same old, but I got to apply it to a different artist and it happened to be some body I happen to think, gut level, is greatly talented.

I'm a long time fan.
If you capture Ed in a performance it is one he'll sing for a lot of years to come. You know….capture him during a performance, once he's done with his jokes. If you know him, you know what I mean.

He was actually my very first ever interview when I started out. Caught me off guard, I don't think I ever have recovered and that was 8 years ago.
Oh my God, God bless you. Oh yeah….when you capture him when he's doing what Eddie does, it was a fun record to make. We had a blast.





You and Curt still in contact? As you did some other work together…
Of course we keep in contact.
We worked on the Robin McAuley record. That was to be a band at the time.
Frank Fillipetti – one of my dearest friends – an absolute genius, one of the top 3 engineers in the business. He did the Too Hot To Sleep record and he introduced me to Robin. A lively guy – we got on and started writing. Writing was fast and I found him to be committed. He would finish a song with me and [keep going] rather than let it sit until next week…
That would have been a really good band in the sense that we would have had a lot of fun and we would have had that work ethic that I was used to because he works really hard.
He is also the combination of an Eddie Money/Jim Jamison…a guy with a great voice who has this great vibe. Of course, he had been with Michael Schenker for a number of years and he said 'oh, I've finally found a guitar player'.
So great stuff…the band never came to see the light of day. I started getting phone calls about doing Survivor.

Robin released that record eventually though. I enjoyed it.
Robin and I enjoyed that. He is a great great writer. Great with lyrics and melody and he absolutely knows what he does best and won't do anything less.
Great to work with.

Jumping completely off topic to something else. The Starbucks commercial – going into that I guess you would hope that it would bring the band some publicity…did it work for you?
Yeah… You know what, it was fun…funny and anytime any one of your friends, much less your band mates can go out to their mail box and there's a cheque in it – what the heck is wrong with that?
They wanted to use the track and I told them I had a version of that Jim Jamison sings and they were 'well, we're not too sure'. I sent it to them and they couldn't tell the difference….they loved it. They said, well, now we need a band.
I sad, well, we have one!

It just evolved. I'm telling you – there's no genius behind this. There are those that want to portray themselves as such, but there isn't. These things just happen….especially in rock n roll and in music, and in commercials the same thing.
It just happened they wanted to use the song, they liked Jim singing it, the camera loves Jima n they decided lets just put the band in the video.
It was a ball. We shot hat commercial in a day and a half. All we said was 'wow, it must be really hard to be an actor'…it was fun.

And you scored an Emmy nomination for the ad! Amazing!
Yeah, I think Jamo had a great time. I think he really had a great time. These things are always in the making. We have a great thing with Starbucks.
We just played for the whole company in Vegas. This is a company that is driven by creativity. They have their own label. This is a company – that wants to see us, musicians, you and me…all do well and it's working.

The industry has to look outside the norm to sell records these days.
Yeah, they spend money and they have their Alanis Morissette acoustic record…they have some great records.

Maybe Survivor needs to do an acoustic record?
Um… know…..I wouldn't be against it. Put it that way…I would probably be all for it.

Ok, let's get Mr Peterik on the phone.
I would be all for it.

Don't we have a record coming out together, ironically on the same day?

I think it's May now [June actually], but close.
Life…you can go against it or you can roll with the changes…I think in our business you have to learn to roll with the changes or you are in really big trouble.
Hopefully I have learned to do that, which is no easy feat as you know.

Well, you are still touring successfully and you are still making records…
I love to play. Just this guitar. It used to be a tree. Now it has strings. It's a tree with strings on it and I just love it. I worship the sound these instruments make. I love how they sound. If you touch them right they make a sound like you have never heard.
Touch them right and they will sing to you.

Can I ask 2 tough questions Frankie?
Go right ahead.

Two lingering things….one was the change of singer from Dave Bickler to Jimi.

Was it hard to make the move away from Dave being that you had successfully regrouped and looked to be doing ok?
You know…..I think after talking to me for the last hour…I think you will know...on a people level it was hard. Creatively I think you also know it was not hard.
I don't want to speak so boldly here, but on a personal level if someone feels they way they feel about some body and they love that person – I think it is very difficult.
But if we're talking a switch in singers…does it mean that Jim is better? It doesn't mean any of that.
It just means that in my opinion, I have always…I make the choice to be in a band with Jim. My own…one guy, my humble opinion….there is a thing with Jim and I…I call him golden throat and I think I know how to work with that and capture that and he's amazing.
He also happens to have grown to be a great friend, so it was difficult as Dave was also a friend. But all the difficulties were on the personal side. Not the creative side
Dave was a great singer. I'm not here to say any different. Everyone knows Dave sung Eye Of The Tiger. He can sing his ass off. It's all about personal choice.

I remember getting the inside word that Jimi was going back to Survivor and I put the news online it was met with a stunned silence. No one thought past issues could be resolved.
Andrew, I have to find out about these past issues sometime.

I don't know about them!
No, it's cool….I just had to say that.

Ok, secondly…I recall getting an e-mail from Dave the day after I put this news online. He said to me that it was news to him. Obviously there was some communication problems?
No….he knew.

I don't know…I can't speak for Dave. Smart cookie and I'll never speak for him, but Dave knew.

I was talking to my good friend John Harrell the other day and he asked if I had talked to you yet.
My friend too….a great cat.

Indeed….he asked me to bring something up with you that he forgot to ask. Search the Internet Movie Database and your name comes up with two acting credits.
Is that the same Frankie Sullivan listed?!

Haha….it could be… could be.
There was a time when…I didn't aspire to acting, but I was seeing some body and I was very green at it. I did a couple of things…

Chaplin…was that one of them?

Have I uncovered a deep dark secret?
No… just….you know what, I'd love to elaborate on it, but I just can't at the moment.
I just gotta leave it where it is. I had a friend who was a friend of some one…got me in.
I tried it a couple of times. It was hard work at the time, but I enjoyed it. That's the extent of what I can tell you about it.

Frankie, that about leaves things where I wanted. Is there anything you would like to add?
Oh no Andrew…I think we've been candid…

I feel like…there's a vibe here….if it clears up some of the misunderstandings. If fans get a real feel through you about these myths…that helps, sure it helps.

Well, I haven't had much contact with you in a while, so I was a bit cautious going into this interview Frankie.
People like you don't dedicate your time to this for no reason. It's about carrying the torch, it's about people and relaying messages and hopefully they relay these messages truthfully and I happen to know from your reputation that you do.
For me it's pretty easy…what you see is what you get.

There is enough bullshit out there already. I don't want to add to it. I appreciate your time and your candor Frankie…very enjoyable.
Anytime Andrew…no problem. Its fun reminiscing isn't it.

Once again, thanks for your time.
My pleasure. Call me anytime you like. You hear rumors, give me a ring.

Will do.
I appreciate your time also.

No problem, you bet.
Bye for now.






c. 2006 / Interview By Andrew McNeice
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Survivor (2006)



Part 2 - Jimi Jamison

Survivor vocalist Jimi is put under the microscope. Although a positive and friendly interview, I don't think Jimi was overly chatty on the day, so the interview is fairly short.


Good to talk to you again Jimi.
Yeah, you too. It's been too long.

It has been. You have been busy in-between time…
Yeah, kinda busy. I'm busy in spurts.

You guys do what a lot of bands do these days and go out for the weekend runs don't you?
Yeah, pretty much. That's when people want us to play.
We don't have to do the two or three months at a time anymore.

Pleased there is still a lot of interesting the band?
Yeah, people still want to hear the good ol' music so I'm happy that we play a lot of fairs and casinos. People always seem to be there.

Anything lined up for the support of Reach? Some European dates planned I see… [since cancelled]
Not sure if they are still valid, but I haven't heard anything for sure.

So let's talk about the record.
Okay. I haven't got a copy of it yet.

Ok, tell me about making it. It's been a long time.
Basically Frank did most of the work.

It seems like he did get things sorted.
I think the basic tracks were pretty easily cut. Lead vocals were cut; we didn't really have a game plan going in. We did a bit of experimenting and it took a little while to get rolling in the studio. But he got it going and I'm real proud of him.

Now you have been back with the band for 6 years now. You have been promising an album for much of that time. Why so long to get it done? Frankie just said things finally aligned.
Well, they did…that's kinda what happened. We have been talking about doing it for a long time but you have to make a living, you have to eat, so you gotta keep playing and when we do that for 2 or 3 months, that is what has kept us from doing it.

I guess people should be made aware that touring is about the only way bands make any money these days – it's not from the records anymore.
It really is. We hardly make any more from the record – that's for the fans pretty much.
We make money when we play live. That's the only way to do it threes days.

It seems the people that come along to the shows are more content to do that for the nostalgia value than going out and buying the records.
Yeah. hopefully we might get to sell some at gigs.

Is there a US release planned?
No, I don't think so, I haven't heard anything about it.

Do Frontiers Records have the US rights also?
I don't think so.

I said to Frankie of the album, that it was a mellower kind of Survivor. I'm not sure he appreciated that, but what's your take?
It probably is a little bit. Maybe the edge wore of a little, but I don't know that is a bad thing. If the songs are good it doesn't matter to me if it's soft or hard.
As long as it's fun to listen to. I don't really care, but you are probably right – it is a little bit mellower.

Your vocals are also a little varied on the album. Usually you are straight ahead smooth as silk, but there is a rougher edge on a few songs.
Yeah, well, I was thinking the album was a little mellower, so I was trying to sing the songs a little harder…hahaha
I don't know if it worked or not…haha

Hah…that's great. It sounded like there was no spit and polish on your vocals. They were a little rawer.
Yeah, pretty much.

What's with leaving Frankie to take control of singing on two tracks?
Well, one song I wanted him to sing and one song I didn't want to sing.
One of the songs he always sang it and the other was so pop I couldn't bring myself to sing it…haha…so he had to sing both.

I'm not a huge fan of that first song, but the second was killer.
It was so pop.

Not quite Survivor. What about your favourite songs on there.
My favourite was one I didn't even write. Seconds Away.

Ah, ok. Great ballad.
My other favourite of course is the one me and my daughter wrote…Gimmie The Word.

Really? That must have been a cool experience.
Yeah, it was really great.

And how old is she now?

Is she in the business?
Yeah, she's a singer/songwriter. She has a regular job but she's a great songwriter and plays around town. I don't think she's taking it very seriously, but she could if she wanted to.

You must be a proud dad.
Oh yeah. Big time. My whole family could sing – aunts and uncles…but no one was in the business, now most of them are in the business but most of them can't sing….haha.

I said to Frankie I liked the 2 main ballads One More Chance and Seconds away.
One More Chance really surprised me. After we recorded it I listened to it I said wow, it was even better than I thought it was.

The title track is obviously classic Survivor…
Yes. Pretty much straight forward Survivor.

I'm curious as to whether you think Jim Peterik might ever come back to the fold?
I don't know. Nothing's impossible. I never rule anything out.

Frankie was diplomatic about that question. You coming back was a surprise!
Yeah, if I can come back, Jim sure can…without a doubt.

I was surprised to hear Rhythm Of my Heart cut for the album. Where did the song originally come from?
That was me Jim writing that when we first got back together years ago. We cut it at Jim's house. I like that song.

You had that lined up for the Empires record originally.
Yeah, at one time.

I still love that album…
Thank you, thank you.

That took a while to get done didn't it?
Yeah, we had to record that album twice. The first time it was produced by Jim from Saga and the record label didn't like it at all.

And then the guy to did do it with ended up running off!
Yeah, he ran off with the masters…

What's next for you Jimi?
I'm hoping to do another solo record. I'll give it a shot. I figure I have one more in me.

Are you serious when you say that?
Oh yeah I'm serious. Well, I know I definitely have one more in me, after that I don't know.

Hard to throw these things together quickly. Do you have a home studio?
Not anymore…I'll probably do it here somewhere in town.

Are you in Nashville?
No Memphis.

Cool place…a lot of rockers down south now.
Oh yeah, In fact I'm just about to open a club in town. I'm partners in a club down town.

That's kinda cool.
Yeah, that'll be great…do a guest appearance every once and awhile.

And who else is involved in that?
A friend of mine…we have the building but no name yet. It should be very interesting.
Morgan Freeman has a club here….BB King too…

Interesting place. Jimi – you recorded a lot of tracks over the years that haven't been released. Are you thinking of putting together a release of these such tracks?
I thought about that but I haven't really pursued it. The quality of some demos aren't that good, so they'd have to be re-recorded.

So it isn't just as easy as polishing off some old DATs?
Yeah, right…and a lot of that stuff I just played everything on there myself! I'm an okay singer, but as far as instruments go I'm not that great!

Ok, so not something you can bump together.
But there are a few tracks I can polish up and get onto CD, but a lot of songs that as far as the sound goes would have to be re-recorded.

Looking back over the years with Survivor…any fondest memories or things that stand out still?
I can't really think of anything that stands out…it's all a blur.

No time to reflect yet?
Not really…I don't think that time has come yet.

Well that's cool.
There is one thing….Joe Walsh was living town and he and I went down to this club to see this band. We walk in and Joe gets up on stage and starts playing. It was kinda loud, so I walked back into the middle of the room.
This guy comes up to me and says 'hi, I'm Joe's drummer'. I said, no way, you are full of crap, I came down here with Joe'….I thought he said he was Joe Walsh's drummer…
He finally left and a friend came up to me and said, what happened man, that was Joe Strummer from The Clash….haha

Oh no! haha
Oh man, I made a fool of myself. Haha…just a funny story you might like. Totally true.

Funny stuff.
I think he did too right?

Yeah, so he died thinking you were a buffoon!
Yeah, what a drag! It was really funny after the fact, but man…

So what's next for you now Jimi? Hit the road?
Yeah, get in shape…do some shows.

Well that's good Jimi – anything you would like to add?
That's all I think that needs to be talked about. I appreciate you calling.

Thanks for taking the call.
See you later.




c. 2006 / Interview By Andrew McNeice





Original Survivor bass player STEPHAN ELLIS has passed away.
Stephan was a crucial part of the great legacy of Survivor’s heyday. I know Jim and Frankie will both be feeling this hard and my personal condolences go out to them and Stephan’s family, friends and fans.
Survivor's Frankie Sullivan has just posted this message on the band's FB page:
We are devastated to hear that Stephan Ellis has passed away. Steph was the guy who was only interested in the music. He absolutely had a special charm with the fans and within the band. I loved much when it came to Steph.
What I remember most and clearly recall is the day when we cut “Keep It Right Here.” The Bass part and lines in the intro just folded into the mix and it was the bass part that inspired me to reach higher on my guitar. We cut our tracks together, live in the studio. Steph’s runs on the neck of that blue bass are as memorable as the song itself.
The guitar player/bass player vibe has been around for a long time and Stephan and I had our thing as well. We fed off each other a lot and I think it was simply his calm ways that not only presented him to me in the beginning, it was also Steph’s calm ways that often helped most. He was always good for some adventurous storytelling that the censorship of today has removed, never to be told by this band reporter. But I learned a few things, we all did…!!!!
I will miss Stephan, we all will. We can talk for years about how much he’d cause us to laugh and most importantly to a rock n’ roll band at that time, the infamous “ice” lesson he passed on to us all one day that stuck for a long while.
This was Stephan Ellis to me –
Underrated yet never dated. Well dressed and on a consistent basis. Gargoyles and all and he was cool enough to pull off. Stephan was well-coifed, always ready and Stephan Ellis lived his own life in his own way and on his own terms.
We Love you Steph!


News Feed
Yes, Mr Sue everybody, who once tried to have the hit TV show Survivor renamed, is at it again.
Not content with suing former band mates Jim Peterik and Jimi Jamison, this time FRANKIE SULLIVAN is going after DAVE BICKLER. For using a Survivor graphic in his advertising. The same issue that's been behind most of Frankie's lawsuits. Give me a break.
Here's the article from TMZ:
Survivor founder Frank Sullivan is pissed one of his ex-bandmates is using the band's name and logo to promote his solo career ... even though he left the group THIRTY. FOUR. YEARS. AGO.
Sullivan -- who started the band in '77 and exploded to fame with "Eye of the Tiger" -- is suing Dave Bickler, claiming the OG member agreed to leave the band in '84 and signed a contract giving up his right to use the band logo.

In docs, obtained by TMZ, Sullivan says Bickler to this day continues to promote his solo career by using the band's logo, which Sullivan says is plastered all over Bickler's website "implying current affiliation" with the band.

Sullivan also claims Bickler slaps the logo on promotional flyers. Even his Instagram handle makes a reference to Survivor. Sullivan's suing to get Bickler to drop the act and for damages.
We reached out to Bickler ... his attorney tells us this suit "is frivolous and simply a mean-spirited attempt to harass Dave for the success he is enjoying on his own." We're told Bickler has no need to imply he's still with Survivor, but sometimes the band shows photos of him in their promos ... "which would seem to undermine the premise of their lawsuit."
Bickler was the lead singer for "Eye of the Tiger" ... and his lawyer says this suit can't change that.


News Feed
More sad news from the dysfunctional world of SURVIVOR. Vocalist Dave Bickler has left. Or been removed. Under what circumstances it is not clear - although the tweet from Frankie Sullivan suggests - it was not good.
"To all my dear fans, Bitter sweet news that I am no longer a member of Survivor. Just wanted to share that with you. There is no longer a place for me in the band. So I'll be moving on and direct all my energies to my solo project. And thank you for all your support. Peace. Dave."

FRANKIE SULLIVAN Still Suing People, This Time It's JIM PETERIK Again

News Feed
Will someone PLEASE tell FRANKIE SULLIVAN to let it go and channel his energies into actually creating something, instead of spending his days suing people.
This time it's his SURVIVOR co-founder JIM PETERIK yet again - for infringement on the Survivor name Jim signed his rights away to nearly two decades ago.
The artcile is below, but for the record, Jim co-founded the band Survivor and co-wrote everything with Frankie, and I've never seen him do anyting but proudly uphold the legacy of the name. And he always prefaces anything with 'former member of..." Dear me Frankie - just make some damn music already.

Original members of the iconic Chicago rock group Survivor, best known for the 1982 hit "Eye of the Tiger" from the movie "Rocky III," are rising up for a court fight over use of the band's name.
Guitarist Frank Sullivan, who started Survivor in 1977, filed suit in Chicago federal court Monday against co-founder James "Jim" Peterik for using the trademarked Survivor name without permission.
Sullivan and Peterik signed an agreement in 1995 granting Survivor Music exclusive use of the Survivor name. In 1996, Peterik "voluntarily departed" from Survivor, assigning all of his rights to use the band's trademarked name to Sullivan, according to the lawsuit.
Since that time, Sullivan has continued to perform and record as Survivor, touring as recently as two years ago until the August 2014 death of leader singer Jimi Jamison of a heart attack. Jamison joined Survivor in 1984, replacing Dave Bickler, lead singer on "Eye of the Tiger" and several other hits, who left the band at its height after developing polyps on his vocal cords.
The suit alleges that Peterik has illegally continued to use the Survivor name since departing the group, including promoting his solo career with the description "co-founder of Survivor" and subtitling his autobiography "The Rock 'n' Roll Life of Survivor's Founding Member."
Peterik, 65, who lives in the southwest suburbs, has a long history in Chicago rock music, dating to The Ides of March, which had the 1970 hit "Vehicle."
Bob Bergland, an original member of The Ides of March and Peterik's manager, said attorneys were reviewing Sullivan's lawsuit, and he declined further comment.
The five-count lawsuit asks that Peterik be ordered to stop using the Survivor trademark, "publicly acknowledge" that his goods and services are not connected with Survivor and deliver to the court all products under his control bearing the Survivor trademark for destruction.
The suit is seeking unspecified damages and all profits received by Peterik "as a result of his unlawful action."

SURVIVOR Recruit New Vocalist CAMERON BARTON; Tour Dates Pending

Release Year: 
News Feed
EXCLUSIVE: Classic melodic rockers SURVIVOR are coming back.
Following the tragic death of Jimi Jamison, the band (featuring original guitarist Frankie Sullivan and original vocalist Dave Bickler) went into indefinite hiatus.
But now news comes that Frankie Sullivan has recruited a new vocalist to take Jimi’s place and join him and Dave Bickler on the road again, starting in January at a Las Vegas date.
The new voice is Nashville singer/songwriter Cameron Barton – a 20 year old described on his website as “Fusing iconic classic rock songs with today’s modern country, Cameron brings a new and compelling sound to country music”.
Survivor’s booking agent website was quoted: “Survivor has a live show that brings your audience right back to the original records with a true concert excitement! Lead by founding member/lead guitarist Frankie Sullivan at the helm along with original lead singer Dave Bickler and the band's newest member Cameron Barton whose natural vocals clone the late Jimi Jamison, Survivor's second singer. Limited shows for 2015, 2016 touring the world!”
When asked to comment, Frankie Sullivan would only state “No singer news as of yet. Will keep you posted.” The new quote disappeared from the site later that very day.
So it’s yet to be made official, but I can 100% confirm that the band has already started rehearsals with Dave and Cameron.
It’s good to see the guys back, but it’s with a heavy heart that it must happen without the late, great Jimi Jamison.
UPDATED; Here is the official press release made overnight:

Legendary rock band Survivor is embarking on their next chapter in 2016 with a new member who has seemingly given new life to one of rock ‘n’ roll’s preeminent bands. With 21-year-old Nashville resident Cameron Barton assuming lead vocalist duties, the group will take their trademark arena rock sound to their loyal and devoted fan base.

Barton steps into the role of Jimi Jamison, who passed away in September 2014. Survivor is excited to have Cameron bring his powerhouse vocal style to the band’s live shows. “He’s great,” says the band’s Frankie Sullivan. “After hearing him, I was in Nashville within twenty four hours. I was in the studio with him about a day later. I stayed with him for about four days, and put him through the ringer. He just kept getting better and kept delivering.” Barton’s commitment to getting the job done is something that impresses his bandmate. “He’s a very focused guy. Most musicians aren’t that focused when they are that young. He learned twenty songs in about eight days.”

Sullivan noted that there might be pressure of taking on the role of lead singer in a group with such a historic pedigree, but he says Barton doesn’t seem to be affected by the pressure. “He just wants to do what he does. You get new people in with new ideas, and usually that comes with a different vibe.”

All in all, the band is hoping that 2016 brings more success with their impending tour and planned album, slated for later in the year. “I think it could be a year to remember. He has a great work ethic.”

Survivor released their first album in 1980 on Scotti Brothers Their first Top-40 on the Hot 100 came the next year with “Poor Man’s Son.” Their big break would come in 1982 when the band was asked by Sylvester Stallone to provide the theme song for Rocky III. That single, “Eye Of The Tiger,” hit # 1 – staying there for seven weeks, winning a Grammy for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, a People’s Choice Award, and an Academy Award nomination. The song came in at #18 on the “Top 100 Singles” chart in Billboard‘s 100th Anniversary issue and it’s well over the 300,000 mark on iTunes, where it’s currently holding strong at #9 on their “Top Soundtrack” chart. The band also struck paydirt as a result of a Stallone movie when “Burning Heart” appeared on the soundtrack of Rocky IV in 1985, hitting # 2 on the singles chart.

The band’s VITAL SIGNS, was another huge success for the band, peaking at #16 on Billboard‘s “Top 200 Albums” chart thanks to the Billboard Top-20 hits "I Can't Hold Back" (#13), "High On You" (#8) and "The Search Is Over" (#4).

Dates for 2016 will be announced soon. For more information about Survivor, log on to their


SURVIVOR Cancel All Tour Dates

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Tour News
In the wake of the tragic passing of vocalist Jimi Jamison, Survivor have reportedly cancelled all future tour dates. Nothing has been posted to the band's sites as yet. But this from:
"The latest tour for ’80s rock band Survivor, which was slated to kick off at the Parker Arts, Culture & Events Center (PACE) on Sept. 12, has been canceled after the death of lead singer Jimi Jamison, according to Parker Arts.
It was only after “much deliberation” from band representatives that the tour was nixed, PACE said in a press release this morning. Jamison suffered a heart attack and died on Aug. 31 at the age of 63.
“We are saddened by this tragic news, and our hearts go out to all members of the band and to Jimi’s family,” said Elaine Mariner, Cultural Director for the PACE Center.
Survivor, which began performing in 1977, is the band behind such radio hits as “Eye of the Tiger” and “I Can’t Hold Back.” Jamison joined in 1984 before leaving to start a solo career, then rejoined in 2011. The band played on September 6th in California, and after a two week hiatus, had planned on four US dates, before heading overseas for the European leg of their tour, according to a press release.
In addition to its PACE Center concert, the band has canceled all remaining U.S. and European tour dates in September and October."


Friday, June 27, 2014
Tour News

Just announced Survivor 2014 UK Tour Dates:

Oct 13 - London Shepherds Bush
Oct 14 - Manchester Ritz
Oct 15 - Glasgow Garage
Oct 16 - Holmfirth Picturedome
Oct 17 - Nottingham Rock City
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