I’m going to throw this out there, and it’s likely an opinion not shared by many.  Rocky III was my favorite movie of the 1980s.  Yes, in a decade that featured Brat Pack cult classics Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire, Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club as well as memorable giants Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, E.T., Dirty Dancing and Top Gun among countless others—for me nothing measured up more than the third installment of the Rocky series.

Mine is an admittedly biased opinion.  When I was a kid my dream was to be professional boxer—an ambition inspired by real life boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and of course, the fictional Rocky Balboa.  When I was a kid my mother bought me a pair of Sugar Ray boxing gloves and mini speed bag. In my bedroom nightly, I was training to be the future middleweight champion of the world. 

It’s an aspiration that may have one day been realized—had I been any good.

Anyway, of any movie I saw at the cinema throughout the 80s Rocky III by far sticks out the most. I left the theater that Saturday day (I was only 11 years old but still remember the day of the week!) a ball of fire after Balboa teamed up with Apollo Creed to avenge Balboa’s loss to Clubber Lang, and I went back home to “train.”  Only now I had a NEW song to workout to— the greatest damn workout song in the history of music, I might add.

Occasionally a tune can become inseparably linked to the events of your youth, whether it’s good or bad, and the memories when hearing it are instantaneously remembered no matter how many years removed from when the song originated.

That’s how I feel about Eye of the Tiger. I hear it and I’m back to being 11 years old—each and every time.

In an interview with Songfacts.com, Survivor founding member Jim Peterik explained how the song came out.  “Frankie (Sullivan) came in with the lines, ‘Back on the street, doin’ time, taking chances.’ I loved those lines immediately and suggested, ‘Rising up, back on the street, did my time, took my chances’ to make it fit with the story line and to make the rhythm of the words fit the music I was hearing in my head. That was certainly the lyrical spark that got the song started. The next two hours flew by in a flash as we jammed, cassette recorder running nonstop to catch anything good we did for future reference, and at the end of the day, the music was about 80% complete and the lyric about 30%. Over the next few days, I worked hard on the lyrics, remembering pieces of movie dialogue like, ‘Went the distance,’ referring to the central phrase of the first Rocky movie.”

Is there a better one-two punch in 80’s pump-up music that Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger and Burning Heart (featured in Rocky IV)? I’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating—it’s damn near scandalous how underrated Survivor was.

Chart Success:  Eye of the Tiger reached number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained at the top for a whopping six weeks before the Steve Miller Band finally unseated it with Abracadabra.  It spent 25 weeks on the charts and finished 1982 second on the year-end Billboard Hot 100, behind only Physical by Olivia Newton John.  Eye of the Tiger

Great Lyrics:  I don’t know about you, but Survivor definitely had me hanging tough and staying quite hungry.     

“Face to face, out in the heat
Hangin’ tough, stayin’ hungry
They stack the odds ’till we take to the street
For the kill with the skill to survive

It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the dream of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watchin’ us all with the eye of the tiger”

Fun Facts: Forget just 1982—- Eye of the Tiger finished as the fourth-biggest Billboard hit of the entire 1980s.  Only Physical (Olivia Newton John), Bette Davis Eyes (Kim Carnes) and Endless Love (Diana Ross and Lionel Richie) finished the decade charting higher. Rounding out the Top 10 of the 80s were Every Breathe You Take (The Police), Flashdance…What A Feeling (Irene Cara), Another One Bites The Dust (Queen), Say, Say, Say (Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney), Call Me (Blondie) and Lady(Kenny Rogers.)

68. Bobby Brown – Don’t Be Cruel 

56. Michael Sembello – Maniac

55. Styx – Too Much Time On My Hands

54. Heart – Alone 

53. Olivia Newton John – Physical 

52. Loverboy – When It’s Over

51. The Time – Jungle Love

50 Michael Jackson – Thriller 

49. Marvin Gaye- Sexual Healing 

 48. Huey Lewis & The News – Do You Believe In Love

47. Madonna – Crazy For You

46. Hall & Oates – Maneater

45. Toto – Rosanna 

44. New Edition – Mr. Telephone Man

43. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA

42. Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World

41. Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody

40. Tiffany – Could’ve Been

39. Bruce Springsteen – Dancing In The Dark

38. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon

37. Christopher Cross – Sailing 

36. Go-Go’s – We Got The Beat

35. The Jets – Make It Real

34. Foreigner – I Want To Know What Love Is

33. Pat Benatar – Love Is A Battlefield

32. USA For Africa- We Are The World

31. Van Halen – Jump

30. Kenny Loggins – I’m Free (Heaven Helps The Man)

29. Dexys Midnite Runners – Come On Eileen

28.  J. Geils Band – Centerfold

27. Hall & Oates – Private Eyes

26. Madonna – Like A Virgin

25. New Edition – Cool It Now

24. Men At Work – Who Can It Be Now

23. Eddie Murphy – Party All The Time

22. Jermaine Stewart – We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off

21. Don Henley – Dirty Laundry 

20. Scorpions – Still Loving You

19. Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

18. Billy Vera – At This Moment

17. Phil Collins/Philip Bailey – Easy Lover

16. Tommy Tutone – 867-5309/Jenny

15. Prince – Purple Rain

14. Wham – Careless Whisper

13. Prince – Let’s Go Crazy 

12. Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me

11. Rick Springfield – Jessie’s Girl