|Released May 29, 1982|
Genre Hard rock
|B-side "Take You on a Saturday"|
Format 7-inch single 12-inch single (45 rpm)
"Eye of the Tiger" is a song by American rock band Survivor. It was released as a single from their third album Eye of the Tiger and was also the theme song for the film Rocky III, which was released a day before the single. The song was written by Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan and keyboardist Jim Peterik and was done so at the request of Rocky III star, writer, and director Sylvester Stallone, after Queen denied him permission to use "Another One Bites the Dust", the song Stallone intended as the Rocky III theme. The version of the song that appears in the movie is the demo version of the song. The movie version also contained tiger growls, something that did not appear on the album version. It features original Survivor singer Dave Bickler on lead vocals.
It gained tremendous MTV and radio airplay and topped charts worldwide during 1982. In the United States, it held No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six consecutive weeks and was the No. 2 single of 1982, behind Olivia Newton-John's "Physical". The band won a 1982 Grammy Award for "Best Rock Performance by Duo or Group With Vocal" at the 25th Annual Grammy Awards.
The song is also the title song to the 1986 film of the same name.
It was certified platinum in August 1982 by the RIAA, signifying sales of 2 million vinyl copies. The song had sold over 4.1 million in digital downloads in the United States alone by February 2015. It was voted VH1's 63rd greatest hard rock song. Combined sales of original vinyl release and digital downloads total over 9 million copies.
The song was later recycled in various other movies, television programs, and video games.
In an interview with Songfacts, co-writer Jim Peterik, who shared writing credit with Frankie Sullivan, explained the song's title.
At first, we wondered if calling it 'Eye of the Tiger' was too obvious. The initial draft of the song, we started with 'It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight, rising up to the spirit of our rival, and the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night, and it all comes down to survival.' We were going to call the song 'Survival'. In the rhyme scheme, you can tell we had set up 'rival' to rhyme with 'survival'. At the end of the day, we said, 'Are we nuts?' That hook is so strong, and 'rival' doesn't have to be a perfect rhyme with the word 'tiger'. We made the right choice and went with 'Eye of the Tiger'.
The song was nominated for the 1982 Academy Award for Best Original Song, the only Oscar nomination for Rocky III. It lost to "Up Where We Belong" from An Officer and a Gentleman.
The song was also nominated for the 1983 Grammy Award for Song of the Year, but lost to the Willie Nelson hit "Always on My Mind".
Newt Gingrich campaign
In 2012, Survivor sued Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich in Illinois federal court for using "Eye of the Tiger" without authorization as entrance music at his political rallies going back as far as 2009. The suit was later settled out of court.
The same year Sullivan also demanded that Mitt Romney, also a Republican candidate for president, stop using "Eye of the Tiger" at his campaign rallies. Romney agreed to drop the song from the campaign's playlists.
Mike Huckabee's campaign
Frankie Sullivan's company Rude Music filed a lawsuit in federal court in Chicago, Illinois, on November 18, 2015, against the former Governor of Arkansas and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's campaign organization for using "Eye of the Tiger" at a political rally without permission. The rally took place on September 8, 2015, when Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, was released from jail after spending five days there for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Kentucky. In June 2016 it was reported by CNN that Huckabee had agreed, in a confidential, out-of-court settlement with Sullivan's Rude Music, to pay $25,000 in compensation.
Credits adapted from the album Eye of the Tiger.