“Eye of the Tiger” is a song by American rock band Survivor. It was released as a single from their 3rd album of the same name and was also the theme song for the 1982 film Rocky III, which was released a day before the single. The song was written by Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan and keyboardist Jim Peterik, and it was recorded at the request of Rocky III star, writer, and director Sylvester Stallone, after Queen denied him permission to use “Another One Bites the Dust“, the song Stallone intended as the Rocky III theme. The version of the song that appears in the film is the demo version of the song. The film version also contained tiger growls, which did not appear on the album version. It features original Survivor singer Dave Bickler on lead vocals. The song is also the title song to the 1986 film of the same name.
It gained tremendous MTV and radio airplay and topped charts worldwide during 1982. In the US, it reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was the #2 single of 1982, behind Olivia Newton-John‘s “Physical“. This top ten run is tied with “Another One Bites the Dust” as well as “Physical” as the longest run in the top ten for a #1 song during the entire 1980s decade. The band won an award for “Best Rock Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal” at the 25th Annual Grammy Awards. In September 1982, it also peaked at No. 1 in the UK, The single sold 956,000 copies in United Kingdom in 1982.
It was certified platinum in August 1982 by the RIAA, signifying sales of 2 million vinyl copies. It was voted VH1‘s 63rd-greatest hard rock song. Combined sales of original vinyl release and digital downloads total over 9 million copies.
Co-writer Jim Peterikexplained the song’s title.
At first, we wondered if calling it “Eye of the Tiger” was too obvious. The initial draft of the song, we started with “It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight, rising up to the spirit of our rival, and the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night, and it all comes down to survival.” We were going to call the song “Survival”. In the rhyme scheme, you can tell we had set up “rival” to rhyme with “survival”. At the end of the day, we said, “Are we nuts?” That hook is so strong, and “rival” doesn’t have to be a perfect rhyme with the word “tiger”. We made the right choice and went with “Eye of the Tiger”.