The rock band Survivor is the slated top act for the Ninth Annual Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival.
They are added to the list of past festival headliners ripped from the pages of rock and roll history, which include the likes of Gregg Allman, Atlanta Rhythm Section and Eddie Money. Survivor will hit the stage tonight at 9 p.m.
The band first skyrocketed into fame in 1983 with the release of "Eye of the Tiger." The song soared to No. 1 on the charts following the release of Rocky III.
Guitarist and songwriter Frankie Sullivan, Survivor's founder, said the tale behind the band’s first hit was "a real simple story."
"Stallone was friends with the president of our record label, Tony Scotti," Sullivan explained. "The movie was done. He had a song in there and didn’t like it. Tony told him, ‘I got this band; why don’t you give them a shot at it.’ It just fit the movie so well. It was the piece of the puzzle that tied that movie together. At the time, we considered the movie to be a multi-million dollar music video for us because the entire song is played at the beginning of the movie – all four minutes and 53 seconds of it in a movie that made 50 million."
Sullivan said the band was grateful for the break, which turned his moderately popular band into one of the most popular ones at the time.
Although known best for that single, Survivor is far from being a one-hit wonder. Seven of their tunes have cracked the top 40 charts, including radio mainstays "The Search is Over," "High on You," "Can’t Hold Back," and even a another big "Rocky" hit when Sylvester Stallone brought them back to record "Burning Heart" for Rocky IV – it peaked at No. 2 on the charts.
"We’ve had a lot of hits and a lot of luck," Sullivan said. "It’s about opportunity. In this business, opportunity is quick. If you’re not ready to jump on it when and if it comes your way, it goes to whoever is next in line. We pounced on it."
When asked if he gets annoyed when some folks strictly identify them with their biggest hit, Sullivan said it does not faze him.
"It doesn’t bother me in the least," Sullivan said. "If they want to say we’re ‘the Eye of the Tiger band’ and it reminds people of our music – I think that’s great. We’re very proud of that song. It’s a big calling card for us."
This past year was a transitional one for Survivor with a changing of the guard in the lead singer position. Longtime front man Jim Jamison departed and was replaced by former MSG vocalist Robin McAuley. Sullivan said it was an awkward transition, but one that will benefit the band.
"I won’t diss Jim because I spent a lot with him, and he really doesn’t deserve that, but Robin really is turning the flame up one more turn," he said. "It (Jamison’s departure) was just really bizarre how it all went down. His manager started making demands to our management company. Our manager was saying ‘this guy’s crazy; you gotta get rid of him.’ I tried to call Jim to work it out, and it took two or three days to get him on the phone. It was just a weird time. I just said screw it – I got Robin McAuley. Robin was the only choice. I didn’t think about anybody else. We’ve worked together before when I helped produce and write his solo album. I felt in my gut that he was the guy, and I was right. After I convinced him to do it, he came in and, after just one week of practice, he sang the entire set list perfectly."
Sullivan said he plans to eventually add MSG songs into Survivor’s concert set list, as well as some of McAuley’s songs from his solo album.
As for the immediate future, Sullivan said he is excited about playing the Seafood Festival and of the big audience that should entail.
"We look forward to performing period," he said. "You got to do this because you love it. Fans are educated people – if something’s not real, they know it and they’ll talk about it. We love what we do, and we must be doing something right for Survivor to still be a headline act thirty years into the business. We’re in a real good position right now with Robin on board. I think he’s going to lead this band to some great things."