By John Borack
Jim Peterik and Lisa Torem
“Through the Eye of the Tiger”
BenBella (Paperback, 336 pages)
Subtitled “The Rock ’n’ Roll Life of Survivor’s Founding Member,” Jim Peterik’s autobiography is a fun, breezy read, detailing his rise from an aspiring musician in the suburbs of Berwyn, Illinois, to that of a respected songwriter who has more than 1,000 published compositions and whose songs have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.
As a rock ‘n’ roll — ahem — survivor, Peterik has plenty of tales to tell, and he does so in an engaging manner. From his first chart record at the tender age of 15 with the Ides of March in 1966 (the glorious garage-pop number “You Wouldn’t Listen”) to the band’s horn-fueled 1970 smash “Vehicle” and through his stint as a founding member of Survivor and the writing of the triple-platinum, Grammy-winning, Sylvester Stallone-commissioned “Eye of the Tiger” for “Rocky III,” Peterik’s stories are humorous, relatable and always interesting.
(Fun fact: According to Peterik, Sylvester Stallone originally wanted to use Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” for the film in the spot where “Eye of the Tiger” was eventually used, but Queen refused to give Stallone the rights.)
Peterik comes off as a regular guy throughout the book, for the most part eschewing drugs and groupies — the story about his aborted rendezvous with the “sweet, sweet Connie” of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band” fame is hilarious — and remaining true to his wife of 42 years, whom he met at a Turtles concert in the mid-‘60s. Peterik also spends quite a bit of time detailing his ongoing battles with Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan, which eventually prompted Peterik to leave the band in 1996. (One bone of contention between them was Peterik penning tunes for other artists, including “Hold On Loosely” and “Caught Up in You” for .38 Special, as well as songs recorded by Sammy Hagar and Cheap Trick.) Peterik’s relationship with the late Jimi Jamison, the onetime Survivor lead singer who died away after the book was written, comes off as more complicated and ambivalent.
Whether it’s Jim Peterik incredulously recalling how he got the “Rocky III” songwriting gig (Sly Stallone apparently called him out of the blue and left a message that began, “Hey, yo, Jim, nice message machine you got there”), explaining the stressful recording session that resulted in The Ides of March’s “Vehicle” (the engineer inadvertently erased 13 seconds from the master tape, resulting in a fortuitous tape splice from another take) or reminiscing about his time spent on the road with Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin (“I had to walk her home because she was too inebriated to get to her hotel”) and The Allman Brothers, “Through the Eye of the Tiger” is an enjoyable look at the life and times of a rather unlikely rock star. www.benbellabooks.com.