Remembering Survivor’s Jim Jamison


Sept. 1, 2018 will mark the fourth anniversary of Jimi Jamison’s death. The rock singer is best known for his time in the rock band, Survivor.

Jamison’s passing is significant because his vocals created the sound of rock and roll for a generation. That he has been gone four years with little in the way of public memorials or even mentions, is a serious omission in the archives of American popular music.

About Jim Jamison

Jamison was born Jimmy Wayne Jamison. Born in Mississippi, he and his mother moves to Memphis, Tennessee when he was a day old. Living in the place where blues and rock ‘n’ roll lived and breathed seemed to have influenced the singer early in life. By the time he was in middle school, he had formed his band. In addition to singing, Jamison took time to get proficient in a few instruments, among them the guitar and trumpet.

The band would have a local hit with a song called “If I Cry” while Jamison was still in high school.

As a young adult, Jamison performed with blues rock and Southern rock bands. After years of playing in support of big name acts such as Boston and KISS, Jamison eventually met the other members of Survivor who were in need of a lead singer after theirs left the band. This was after the original singer had already contributed vocals to “Eye of the Tiger.”

Jim Jamison’s style of rock vocals

Jamison’s sound was big and  intense. His voice embodies the tension felt on songs about victory against all odds. Thus, songs  from the “Rocky” franchise fit his style perfectly. Jamison was also skillful at bringing to life impassioned love songs for people who didn’t necessarily like typical love songs. In short, his was a sound of cool that essentially created the soundtrack for the 1980s.

Jamison’s voice is essentially a tenor. His voice could stay in the middle of the range, or it could go up fairly high. What was most impressive was Jamison’s control. The way he could put power behind either straight notes or vibrato added dynamic interest to every song he sang.

Jamison eventually left Survivor and participated in other projects. He was involved in the Voices of Classic Rock, a supergroup of sorts featuring performers who had been popular in the 1970s and 1980s.

In the late 1990s, Jamison became the voice of the iconic television show, ”  Baywatch.” He also wrote that song.

Jamison reunited with Survivor from 2000 to 2006. He also returned to Memphis yearly to perform with one of the bands he had played with as a young man.

Jamison passed away from a heart attack following a stroke that was allegedly brought on by drug use. Regardless of how he died, Jamison has a legacy of powerhouse rock singing that is matched by few singers in contemporary times. His style and his sound are what Jamison should be remembered for.


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