Jim Peterik of Survivor, recently spoke to Dan Weiss about his career and working with Sly to create Eye of the Tiger. Here’s a taste…
Were you a big fan of the prior Rocky movies or boxing before Stallone approached you?
Huge fan of Rocky I, and II was good, too, my wife and I were really into it. So when I got home that fateful day in early 1982, I had a message on my answering machine that went: “Jim, nice answering machine you got there, give me a call, it’s Sylvester Stallone.” So I thought, yeah, right, c’mon. Stallone would have a handler or an agent…it’s not every day you get a message from Stallone. So I thought somebody was pranking me. I called my buddy Sal who did an imitation of him: “Come on, don’t do this to me.” He’s like “Do what?” So I called him back and Stallone answers, “Yo.” And I said, “Is this Sylvester Stallone?” And he goes [affects Stallone voice], “Yeah, call me Sly.” So I go, “Hi Sly, how you doing?” And he goes, “Yeah, I like the sound of your band. I want that sound for my new movie, can you help me out?” And I said, “Is the pope Catholic?” I knew this was the chance of a lifetime.
He sent us a rough cut of the movie, the first three and a half minutes of a montage. So me and [Survivor guitarist] Frankie Sullivan just watch this thing, and he’s got a Les Paul and starts playing the “chugga, chugga, chugga” thing. I see the punches, you know, Mr. T knocking the daylights out of Stallone, and I go “bom…bom bom bom.” Literally syncing the guitar part to the punches we see onscreen. So we had a really good start, and then we begged Stallone to send us the whole movie, which he finally did the next day. Begrudgingly, because he wasn’t supposed to. But that’s when everything took shape, because that’s when we see Burgess Meredith‘s character going “Roc, you’re losing the eye of the tiger!” And we go, “There’s our song.”
The Peterik interview is a good one. His first hit was Vehicle which he wrote for Ides of March. The song appears in Sly’s movie Lock Up. Check out the full interview here.