“That was a major moment for me. It was my first foray into co-writing. Kalodner said, ‘You did great with ‘Rockin’ into the Night,’ I want to put you together with Don Barnes and Jeff Carlisi of .38 to see what you can do.’ That first night, Jeff and Don are at my house in La Grange, Illinois and we’re sitting around the kitchen table. Writing sessions are always like blind dates: It’s like making love without the foreplay. Suddenly you’re sitting there face to face, and you’re thinking, ‘OK, what do we do now? Am I going to embarrass myself? What if my ideas suck?’ So we’re sitting there nervously, just making small talk, and all of the sudden Jeff says, ‘I’ve got this lick,’ and he starts with the opening lick of what became ‘Hold on Loosely.’ I go, ‘That’s really neat,’ and Don says, ‘I’ve got this title – ‘Hold On Loosely,” and I go, ‘Yeah, but don’t let go.’
My wife of 32 years now, this is what broke us apart when we were teenagers – I was getting too close. I was getting too serious for her. She didn’t say, ‘Hold on Loosely,’ but that’s what was in her heart. So when Don said ‘Hold on Loosely,’ I immediately knew what he was talking about. He wasn’t even talking about that exactly, he told me later, he just thought it was a cool title.
I immediately saw a story, and it was really my own story. I said, ‘Jeff, play that riff.’ He plays the riff, and I start singing: ‘You see it all around you, good loving gone bad.’ It just started coming. I turned on the tape recorder and said, ‘Guys, I think we have something here.’ We got the stalk of the song in the next two days, then I fine-tuned it in the next two or three weeks. I flew down to Jacksonville where the band was rehearsing and basically worked out the song with them down there.”
— Jim Peterik, on co-writing Hang On Loosely
Jim Peterik was also the keyboardist for Survivor and that band, which was still looking for its first hit, were initially not happy that their keyboardist had written a hit song for another band.
Hang On Loosely was such a hit that the video for it, a simple performance clip, was the 13th video aired on MTV on August 1st, 1980, their first day of broadcast. Fortunately, a performance clip was all the song needed because the .38 Special could really play!
The First Videos Shown on MTV:
- Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles
- You Better Run by Pat Benatar
- She Won’t Dance With Me by Rod Stewart
- You Better You Bet By The Who
- Little Suzi’s On The Up by PH.D
- We Don’t Talk Anymore by Cliff Richard
- Brass in Pocket by Pretenders
- Time Heals by Todd Rundgren
- Take It On The Run by REO Speedwagon
- Rockin’ in Paradise by Styx
- When Things Go Wrong by Robin Lane & The Chartbusters
- History Never Repeats by Split Enz