According to BMI music publishing, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" was played on American radio and television more times than any other song in the 20th century. It got over 8 million plays from the time it was released until 2000. Note that this includes all versions of the song, not just The Righteous Brothers'.
The husband-and-wife songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote this song at the request of Phil Spector, who was looking for a hit for an act he had just signed to his Philles label: The Righteous Brothers.
Before signing with Spector, the duo had some minor hits on the Moonglow label, including "Little Latin Lupe Lu" (#49) and "My Babe" (#75). Mann and Weil listened to these songs to get a feel for their sound, and decided to write them a ballad. Inspired by "Baby I Need Your Loving" by The Four Tops, they came up with this song about a desperate attempt to rekindle a lost love.
The song was the first Righteous Brothers release on Philles, and it shot to #1, giving both the duo and the songwriting team of Mann & Weil their first #1 hit. Bill Medley recalls spending about eight hours working with Spector on the vocal for this song.
This song got a boost when The Righteous Brothers performed it on the variety show Shindig!, which launched in 1964 a few months before this song was released. Medley and Hatfield were regulars on the show, always eliciting screams from the many young girls in the audience. Appearances on the show gave them national exposure, which combined with the release of this song, made them sudden superstars. "It would be like being on American Idol every week," Medley told us. "Then recording 'Lovin' Feelin',' it had a dramatic change in our life, and it was very fast. We went from 1 to 60 in a heartbeat."
According to Spector, The Righteous Brothers didn't even want to record the song, as they fancied themselves more in the realm of rock and doo-wop.
In Rolling Stone magazine, Bill Medley recalled, "We had no idea if it would be a hit. It was too slow, too long, and right in the middle of The Beatles and the British Invasion." The Rolling Stones' manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, took out ads in the British trade papers saying that the Righteous Brothers' version was the greatest record ever made.
In 2003, The Righteous Brothers played this to open the ceremonies when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was odd timing, as Phil Spector was arrested on murder charges just a month before the ceremony.