On Sept. 1, 2014, Rolling Stone shared the sad news that Jimi Jamison, the lead singer of two 1980s classic bands—Survivor and Cobra—died on Aug. 31 of a heart attack. Arizona Republic reporter Ed Masley shared the TMZ report that Jamison “died Sunday night and was found dead in his Memphis home around 1 a.m. Monday by his son.” Jamison and Survivor had reportedly performed a show in California on Saturday night.
Born in Mississippi as Jimmy Wayne Jamison on Aug. 31, 1951, Jamison grew up in Memphis. He was equally diverse in hard rock as well as country music, and played piano and guitar as a versatile singer-songwriter. Jimi was part of the group Survivor, together with Jim Peterik, Frankie Sullivan, and Dave Bickler. Songs that are instantly familiar as “his” were the onstage performance of “Eye of the Tiger,” as well as “I Can’t Hold Back,” “High on You” and “The Search is Over,” among many. Jamison co-wrote and sang “I’m Always Here,” which was used as the theme for the TV show, “Baywatch.”
A very special solo project of Jamison’s was the album “Crossroads Moment,” produced by Jamison’s Survivor bandmate and good friend, Jim Peterik. His second to final album was a joint project with Toto’s former lead singer, Bobby Kimball. Released in 2011, it was titled, simply, “Kimball/Jamison.” In 2012, he released his final work, "Never Too Late," featuring 11 songs that were a perfect showcase for his outstanding range. From that album, "Street Survivor" was a feel-good power ballad; he told a story with his voice on "I Can't Turn Back," and there's the slightly wistful, yet strong, "Heaven Call Your Name."
Jamison’s official Facebook page carried a message from his family (Lacy Ellen Jamison, James Jamison and Amy Jamison-Poole):
We are saddened and heartbroken to announce the passing of a great musician, loving father and grandfather, and overall extraordinary, giving, and kindhearted human being. He's loved by so many, most of all his family, and he will be incredibly missed by all. Please keep his family in your prayers, and please give them the privacy they need during this extremely difficult time. Thank you all for your condolences and kind words."
Reaction to the news is moving quickly across social media. Jamison’s Wikipedia page has already been updated to reflect his passing. Two hours ago Survivor’s official Facebook band page shared, “The entire Survivor family is very shocked and saddened by the passing of our brother Jimi Jamison. Our thoughts, love and prayers go out to his family and friends.”
A poignant message was shared about an hour ago by rock legend Jim Peterik (Ides of March, Survivor, and co-author of "Eye of the Tiger" among many hit records) on his official Facebook page:
I will be writing more soon but right now I can only say I’m in deep shock over the passing of my dear friend and gifted vocalist Jimi Jamison. My deepest sympathies to his family – his band mates, his friends and his millions of fans. May God bless his soul."
Singer Kip Winger, respected and talented lead singer for many bands, including Winger, and formerly of the Alan Parsons Project, shared “R.I.P. Jimi Jamison. A brilliant singer and a beautiful soul. We’ll miss you Jimi. God Speed.”
Disc jockeys, musicians, fans and friends are busy right now sharing words of greatful remembrance for the talents of a musician who was taken from all of us simply far too soon. That’s just the beginning of outpouring of friends, colleagues and fans who appreciated Jamison for his gifts and talents of a man taken far too soon from the world of classic rock music, which claims him as forever theirs.
As heard in the beautiful theme from the 1999 television show, "Baywatch" in the accompanying YouTube, with music by Cory Lerios and John D'Andrea, lyrics by Joe Henry and Jimi Jamison, a great video of a young, vital Jamison with miles of music ahead of him in the future, is some reassurance that despite Heaven calling his name, Jimi's music, at least, will "always be here" with us.