Most of the music memoirs that cross my desk are filled with page upon boring page of drug-fueled tales and other rock star-related excesses. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that many of the musicians I've appreciated throughout the years have had their bouts with alcohol and drugs, but how many times can one read about a backstage coke party before tuning it all out?
In founding Survivor member Jim Peterik's brand new autobiography, Through the Eye of the Tiger, we learn that the hit songwriter's biggest vice is collecting guitars. One photo in his book shows off a wall in his house adorned with some of his many prized axes. With a discography as deep as Peterik's, it's no surprise he could afford to outfit a room in his house to look like a NAMM showroom.
Beginning in 1970 with "Vehicle," a Blood, Sweat & Tears-influenced smash single Peterik wrote and sang for his then-band, The Ides of March, the Illinois native has enjoyed a multifaceted career as a musician and go-to songwriter. Turn on your local classic rock station and there's a good chance you'll hear "Vehicle," or a number of other Peterik-penned songs, for that matter.
Through the Eye of the Tiger tracks Peterik's early days in the suburbs of Chicago all the way through to his current career performing with Pride of Lions, and writing material for legendary bands like The Beach Boys. The 63-year-old has also co-written hit songs for 38 Special, Cheap Trick, and The Doobie Brothers, among other acts.
But despite all of his other musical successes, Peterik will always be best remembered for his work with AOR giants Survivor. It doesn't matter if you prefer the Dave Bickler or Jimi Jamison era of the band (if you say that you preferred the Robin McAuley era the most, you're lying), if you're a melodic rock fan, you own most, if not all, the Survivor studio albums. Plain and simple: no melodic rock collection is complete without Survivor songs such as "High on You," "The Search is Over," and "Jackie Don't Go."
After a touching foreword by Peterik's old friend and collaborator, REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin, Through the Eye of the Tiger launches into a chapter that tells the story behind the author's biggest single. Written for the box office hit Rocky III, "Eye of the Tiger" went on to reach and hold the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six consecutive weeks in 1982.
Peterik takes the reader back to the day Sylvester Stallone called him, requesting a new song for his upcoming Rocky sequel. It turns out that the song Stallone originally had placed in his film, Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust," was denied usage rights by the band. Having heard one of Survivor's earlier cuts, "Poor Man's Son," the actor felt that Peterik and company could write another blue collar anthem that would fit the Rocky storyline.
I won't spoil the rest of the story for you, but it's a fascinating look into the background of one of rock's most enduring songs.
So, if you're looking for another one of those rock 'n' roll books in the smutty tradition of The Hammer of the Gods or The Dirt, Through the Eye of the Tiger isn't for you. But if you want to read an inspiring story about a songwriter who has managed to survive (pun definitely intended) through countless musical trends and leave such a lasting impact on melodic rock, then Through the Eye of the Tiger delivers on every level.