Songwriter "Dirty Dancing" all the way to the bank

Tue Nov 9, 2010 2:32pm EST
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Dirty Dancing" is the lottery ticket that keeps coming up with the winning numbers for Franke Previte.

The New Jersey musician, whose first name is pronounced "Frankie," co-wrote the film's climactic anthem "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," a tune that helped turn a small coming-of-age tale into one of the biggest movies of all time.

The scene where Jennifer Grey bumps and grinds with Patrick Swayze on stage and then soars through the air into his upstretched arms as the song crescendos never gets old.

Almost overnight, Previte went from being a struggling artist with $100 into his bank account to the Oscar-winning toast of Hollywood. The song, performed by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, topped Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart. The soundtrack album has sold almost 50 million copies.

"Time of My Life" is so big that it's easy to forget Previte co-wrote another "Dirty Dancing" smash, "Hungry Eyes," the ballad that Eric Carmen took to No. 4 on the Hot 100.

If you're waiting for the bit where Previte ends up homeless after being spat out by the entertainment business, there isn't one. He lives comfortably in New Jersey with his wife and son, cashing huge royalty checks and helping young songwriters get into the business.

"I've been in just about every one of the potholes they're about to fall in," he told Reuters in a recent interview.