Sometimes when opportunity knocks, it’s at an early hour. That would be the case for musician/songwriter Jim Peterik who scored his first hit with “Vehicle” when he was only 19. The Ides of March and Survivor member has proven that when you love your craft, you will have longevity with it. He recently took a moment to speak with usedview.com about his extensive career and let us in on what he’s up to these days.
Examiner: How did you get into music?
Jim Peterik: I was a fan of rock and roll from a young age, from the age of four. I picked up a ukulele at that age. At nine I started playing my sister’s guitar. By 7th grade, I realized that doing a song made me popular, that the girls loved it.
Examiner: What was the first band you were in?
JP: I was with The Shondels. That was 1964. Then we became the Ides of March. Our first single was “You Wouldn’t Listen to Me,” that was in 1966. I was 19 years old when “Vehicle” hit number 1. That was 1970. What a great time that was. We were on the road a lot and signed with Warner Bros. It was an amazing time.
Examiner: Any performance that stands out in your mind?
JP: Yeah. We were part of a lineup in Winnipeg, Canada that included the Youngbloods, Iron Butterfly and Led Zeppelin. We were really in sync that night, it was the best night of my life. Not even Zeppelin could follow us that night…! The press said “Ides of March steals show from Led Zeppelin.” That was in 1971.
Examiner: What made you guys unique during that time?
JP: Our horns…! Also, we didn’t do drugs.
Examiner: When did you guys disband?
JP: 1973. I started performing solo in 1976. I needed to reassess what I wanted to do. A year later I formed Survivor. Sylvester Stallone heard us, liked our sound. Asked us to write the theme for Rocky III. We wrote “Eye of the Tiger.” We also wrote “Burning Heart” for Rocky IV.
Examiner: What was your writing process with the group?
JP: I’d bring in an idea, play it for Frankie Sullivan. I was the lyricist, Frankie was the man on the guitar with the unbelievable riffs.
Examiner: When did you reform Ides of March?
JP: I left Survivor in 1996, then reformed Ides of March with the original members.
Examiner: And that band is currently touring, right?
JP: Yes, we’re performing in China in the fall.
Examiner: That’s pretty exciting.
JP: Yes, it is. I just played there solo for an audience of 80,000…that was something! I performed four songs and they knew them all!
Examiner: What do you like most about music?
JP: I love its universal power. The communication aspect. Also like making people feel like they can take something home with them.
Examiner: Do you like working solo?
JP: I do, but I like collaborating, too. In 1981 I started co-writing with my Sammy Hagar on Heavy Metal. I also co-wrote a lot of songs with .38 Special, including “Caught Up with You” and “Hold on Loosely.”
Examiner: What’s your favorite song with them?
JP: Probably “Hold on Loosely.” People come up to me all the time and ask about that song. There’s a lot of wisdom in it.
Examiner: What are you currently working on?
JP. Besides touring, I’m producing other groups and mentoring. I also have a smooth jazz band, Lifeforce.
Examiner: What two words would best describe you?
JP: Always expanding.