“Eye of the Tiger”

“Eye of the Tiger”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song

Jim Peterik
“Eye of the Tiger”

Written by Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan
Recorded by Survivor for Rocky III

We were asked to write this song by Sylvester Stallone. He wanted a new theme for Rocky III and had heard our group, Survivor, and liked our sound. I was the keyboard player and Frankie Sullivan, who wrote it with me, was the guitar player. Sly wanted “something with a pulse, something for the kids.”

He sent a rough cut of the film and we immediately got fired up. These were ideas I wanted to express for so long and all I needed was an excuse to put them into a song — this was it. The story of musicians is very similar to that of prize fighters — each field is very competitive and it’s a difficult struggle to win. We caught the energy for the song from the script and the film. It was my personal story and Frank’s; it is about what it takes to be the best. Being from Chicago, the “second city,” and not New York or Los Angeles, we had to try a little harder to be successful.

We wrote the song in my kitchen. I rented a professional Betamax machine and while we were watching the opening montage to the film, I started playing the now signature sixteenth note guitar figure. As the punches were thrown, we created the slashing chords to match the phrase “Eye of the Tiger,” which was in the script. As the key to the movie, it became the title of the song. I felt it would be a hit. After all, it would have a $10 million video!

“Eye of the Tiger” took on a life of its own beyond the movie. Each generation re-discovers the song — sports competitors, people with physical or mental challenges, kids who hear it on Guitar Hero or other video games. How could we have known at the time that this song would go on to motivate generations to come?

Randy Pausch, who wrote The Last Lecture, cited the song. It gave me goose bumps when I saw that. Throughout my life, I’ve used the song to get through problems and to rise above my own challenges. That’s a bonus, for sure.

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