Seasoned guitarist and lead-vocalist with eleven years experience on the Las Vegas strip, Michael Grimm had been playing six nights a week in some of the finest Hotels and Casinos such as Ceasars’ Palace. Although seldom mentioned while vying for the title in America’s Got Talent, Michael actually had been a professional musician / entertainer since he was just twelve years old, playing in bars and clubs in his hometown and neighboring communities. He auditioned for the show in 2009 and didn’t get very far but he was determined and coaxed by family and friends to give it another shot in 2010. And we are grateful that he did just that, for Michael Grimm stepped onto that stage with just an acoustic guitar and, perched upon a bar stool sang a rendition of the classic “ You Don’t Know Me “ made famous by artists such as Eddy Arnold and Ray Charles. The entire audience was on their feet when the lights went back up and all three judges were completely blown away, oozing rivers of compliments to a misty-eyed Michael Grimm. Instantly, Michael won the hearts of millions of viewers who would remain glued to their seats with their voting hands on their smart-phones, ready to propel him within a matter of weeks to the top, which incidentally made Grimm one million dollars richer! This summer I was fortunate to spend part of an afternoon over the phone with Michael, and in a laid-back fashion he and I just talked about music, guitars, show-biz and life as though we’d known each other for half our lives.
Here is an excerpt from that discussion where we discuss his friendship with the legendary Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers:
Damn Good Tunes: Now you’ve also done extensive work with Bill Medley, who of course is famous in his solo career but as one-half of the Righteous Brothers. Tell me what it’s like to work with him and further, to hang out with Bill. I mean he’s got more fire and passion in one little finger than some people have in their entire bodies!
Michael Grimm: Man, I will tell you what; I admire that about Bill. He’s a big supporter of younger generation music. His daughter, McKenna Medley is a great singer-songwriter herself. I was playing at the Big Apple lounge at New York NY and Bill came out there with his wife, son and daughter to see me play about five years ago. That night he sat in with the band and I have just become very close with Bill and his family. Prior to that night he called me one day out of the blue and said hey Mike, this is Bill Medley. At that point I really didn’t put two and two together and just thought it was some other guy from town. I didn’t really hear Medley and you know, it’s not every day you get a call from Bill Medley. And he says “I like your song and I’d like to record it and I’d like to meet up with you. You sound good kid! “. I’ve just become well acquainted with him since then and been to his houses many times in Newport and in Branson and I’ve worked with his band. He’s been quite an inspiration to me and he’s always calling, finding out what I’m doing and what he can do for me. Bill is just a one-of-a-kind guy.
Damn Good Tunes: That’s so good to hear Michael because I’ve been a fan of his and of course Bobby Hatfield all my life. It was a sad day when Bobby passed away in 2003, but it’s great that Bill has been able to keep it going, keeping it fresh and creative. He’s a real jewel.
Michael Grimm: He just won’t stop and he holds honor to Bobby I’ll tell you what. There’s been a lot of people who have been coming at him wanting to know stories and make movies about the Righteous Brothers, but Bill is sticking to his guns honoring Bobby. He really loved him a lot you know.
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