Franke & The KnockoutsView in iTunes
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Led by singer Franke Previte, the New Brunswick, NJ, band Franke & the Knockouts scored several pop hits in the early '80s. Previte, who had played in local bands since his teens, formed the group with guitarist Billy Elworthy in 1981 and they were quickly signed to Millennium Records. Rounding out the original quintet were keyboardist Blake Levinsohn, bassist Leigh Foxx, and drummer Claude LeHenaff. Their self-titled debut, which showcased their light pop/rock leanings, was a surprise success, spawning a Top Ten single with "Sweetheart" and a Top 40 follow-up, "You're My Girl." Personnel changes would occur when LeHenaff left in late 1981 (future Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres would appear on their next couple albums) and keyboard player Tommy Ayers joined early the following year. In 1982, the band released their second album, Below the Belt, and again scored a Top 40 hit with the keyboard-heavy ballad "Without You (Not Another Lonely Night)" that summer. Switching labels to MCA, Franke & the Knockouts final release, 1984's Makin' the Point, continued the band's diminishing fortunes. Previte struck it big in 1987 when two songs that he had co-written were included on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Eric Carmen's version of his "Hungry Eyes" would become a Top Five smash (and restore the former Raspberry to chart prominence), while Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes would top the charts with "(I've Had) The Time of My Life." "Hungry Eyes," originally recorded but never released by Franke & the Knockouts, along with all three of the group's charting singles appear on 1999's compilation Sweetheart Collection. ~ Tom Demalon