ROCKY IV (1985)

When East Meets West, the Champion Remains Standing.


Rocky IV’s score is the only Rocky movie not composed by Bill Conti, the composer synonymous with Rocky music. For this highly charged 1980’s spectacle, composing newcomer Vince DiCola was chosen to give a new sound to the Rocky series. Contributors to Rocky 4’s high-powered music include Survivor, who recorded the smash hit “Eye of the Tiger“, which was the biggest selling single of 1982, to Rocky III. They returned to IV with “Burning Heart”, the first single to be released from the film’s soundtrack.

Performing the most extravagant production number in any of the Rocky films, James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, sings “Living in America”, written by Dan Hartman with lyrics by Charlie Midnight. “Living in America” reached number 4 on America’s Billboard Hot 100 chart and went on to become a top five hit song in the United Kingdom. The song would be James Brown’s only top 10 single in the UK. It was also Brown’s first Top 40 hit in ten years in the US, and ultimately ended up being his last.

James Brown’s recording of “Living in America” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1986 and won the man himself a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist John Cafferty, leader of the Beaver Brown Band, recorded “Heart’s On Fire“, the inspirational theme of Rocky’s grueling Siberian training. On the US version of the film, a shot of Drago taking steroids is reframed to edit out a needle piercing his shoulder. To keep time with the song “Heart’s On Fire” playing in the background, previous shots of the needle full of steroids are slowed down. “Heart’s On Fire” went on to rank in the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1986.

“Double or Nothing” (the love theme of Paulie and his robot) was a unique effort uniting two of America’s most popular singing voices for their first recording together. Performed by Kenny Loggins and Gladys Knight, the song, written by Paul Williams and Steve Dorff, is heard only briefly in the film.

Robert Tepper made his recording debut on the IV soundtrack with “No Easy Way Out”, a song written by Tepper who was discovered by Sylvester Stallone. “No Easy Way Out” provides the background for Rocky’s reminiscing sequence as he speeds through the night.

Touch, yet another Stallone discovery, made its debut here as well with its rendition of “Sweetest Victory”, written by Jake Hooker and Duane Hitchings.

Several duties on the IV soundtrack were given to Vince DiCola (co-writer of “Heart’s On Fire”) including composing the film’s score. Sylvester Stallone discovered DiCola in the early 1980’s, first enlisting his talents for several sections of underscoring on the song-oriented Staying Alive soundtrack. A talented musician as well as composer, DiCola plays all the keyboards and synthesizers throughout the Rocky 4 score.