When The Righteous Brothers' soulful songs first hit the radio in the 1960s, many wrongly assumed the singing duo must be black.
Bill Medley, who is performing Saturday at the Gallo Center for the Arts, said fans have told him they lost bets guessing the color of his skin.
The duo's sound just came from their personal tastes -- Medley and his singing partner, Bobby Hatfield, were big fans of the 1950s black artists like Little Richard and Fats Domino.
"When it came time for us to record, we emulated those guys," he said in a phone interview. "We weren't trying to sound black or anything."
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
For his Modesto show, Medley, 69, promises to sing all his hits, including "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration" and "Unchained Melody," plus "I Had the Time of My Life," his hit with Jennifer Warnes from the 1987 movie "Dirty Dancing."
"I never get tired of singing those songs," he said. "They were great songs. As long as the audience loves it, I'll do them."
Medley will perform with his son, Darrin, 44, and daughter, McKenna, 23, who are both accomplished singers.
"We do a family thing with a couple of songs," he said. "They get along great. It's very, very cool."
Darrin has been singing and playing drums since age 5 and, as an adult, became lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders for five years. McKenna was voted 2007 female singer of the year in Branson, Mo., where she performs with her father.
Raised in Santa Ana, Medley had music in his blood. He sang in church and school choirs and when he was very young, his parents performed in a band. Medley is the last name he was born with.
He met Hatfield at California State University, Long Beach, and began singing with him in the early 1960s. Producer Phil Spector asked the duo to record "Lovin' Feelin'," which was co-written by him, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill.
Medley said he was skeptical at first that the song would work since it was so different than the harder rock the duo was doing in those days.
"My quote was, 'That's a great song for the Everly Brothers.' I didn't think that would be for us."
The 1965 song became one of The Righteous Brothers' signature songs and was later sung by Tom Cruise in the 1986 movie "Top Gun."
Hatfield recorded the vocals on another 1965 hit, "Unchained Melody, " which was a cover of a 1955 song. He had fallen in love with a recording he had heard by Roy Hamilton and requested to sing it. The Righteous Brothers' version was later featured in the 1990 movie "Ghost."
Hatfield died in 2003 at age 63 in a hotel in Kalamazoo, Mich., where he and Medley were about to take the stage. Medley said it's strange knowing that he will never be able to perform with Hatfield again.
"I miss him a whole bunch," Medley said. "I miss everything. I miss him on stage, I miss him as a friend. He was a very funny guy, real crazy."
Medley said he still loves performing and has no plans to retire. He joked that he needs the money so his wife can keep shopping. He also loves that he can perform with his family.
"Now that I'm up there with my kids," he said, "at least I know where they are."