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'Unchained' Did Not Go Unsung in the '50s

April 07, 1991

Letter writer Robert J. Fredericks is incorrect in saying of the song "Unchained Melody" that "it was not until the 1960s that the lyrics were written for the Righteous Brothers' recording."

The lyrics, by Hy Zaret, were written for and heard in the 1955 film "Unchained," and the song was nominated for an Academy Award (it lost to "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing").

Also, the Righteous Brothers were not the first to have a hit with the song. In 1955, three different records (by Les Baxter, Al Hibbler and Roy Hamilton) made the top 10 in Billboard Magazine.

The fact that "Unchained Melody" had been a hit before the 1960s was rarely mentioned during the song's recent reincarnation (as the theme of the hit movie "Ghost"), illustrating how most people who talk or write about popular music tend to have little knowledge of the subject prior to the sanctified "rock 'n' roll years" starting in the '50s.

DALE BOOTH, Sherman Oaks

Booth was one of nine who wrote to correct the error in the March 24 letter. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says that Todd Duncan sang the lyrics to the Alex North melody in 1955's "Unchained" and that Harry Belafonte sang the song at the Oscar ceremony in 1956.

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