The Washington Post

‘Eye of the Tiger’ co-writer likes Newt Gingrich’s taste in music

The song “Eye of the Tiger” is forever intertwined with Rocky Balboa’s battle — but one of the song’s co-writer, Jim Peterik, wasn’t interested in a fight. That’s why the former member of the band Survivor chose to stay out of the lawsuit that his bandmate and fellow co-writer Frank Sullivan filed against Newt Gingrich earlier this week, after the candidate was accused of copyright infringement for playing the song at rallies without authorization.

Looking in the eye of a different tiger, then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia feeds Kaboul, a white Bengal tiger while hosting the Larry King Live television show in 1996. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Peterik wrote “Eye of the Tiger” for 1982’s “Rocky III” with Williams, though the two have not spoken since a reunion in 2004, Peterik says. Though the suit alleges that Gingrich’s use of the songs was unlicensed, Peterik said that he was not opposed to the suit, but never joined because he is “not the kind of guy that is litigious.” He found out about the suit when it was covered by TMZ. Both writers continue to draw royalties from the song when it is licensed for performances and commercials.

Jim Peterik (Kristie Schram)

“If it motivates people to get out to the polls and create some excitement, that’s what it’s for,” said Peterik. “It’s a story, any man’s story — a politician, an athlete, an alcoholic trying to recover. Everyone has their own story.”

As for his own political leanings, Peterik says he keeps them private, though he conceded, “I’m from Chicago, and there’s a certain standing president from Chicago, so I have a certain loyalty there.” Peterik says he’ll get a chance to play for the president next month at an event for the National Academy of Songwriters, where he’ll encourage the president to combat music piracy. He says he’ll probably play “Eye of the Tiger,” but might switch it up with “Vehicle,” another popular song from his other band, Ides of March.

Despite his soft spot for Obama, Peterik told the Chicago Sun-Tribune that he was “becoming a fan of Newt Gingrich.” “I like [Gingrich’s] taste in music,” he said to the Post.

As for the lawsuit, he’ll be watching for a ruling with a settlement with the rest of the songwriting and political community. Because he is not named in the suit, he does not expect to receive any of a potential settlement or damages. He’s also guessing that Gingrich will stop using the song — but he doesn’t think that his supporters will be any less pumped up if he enters his rallies to another tune.

“If the song can sway a vote, I’ll run for office,” said Peterik. “It can’t influence people to vote for you. It just creates a circus.”

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.


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