Vehicle Ran Out of Gas One Slot Shy of Number One
Guess who was looking warily at the Ides of March back in 1970. Hint: It was not Julius Caesar, since that ill-fated Roman emperor had been dead for well over two thousand years by then.
It was, indeed, the Guess Who. The title track from American Woman had been number one for three straight weeks but, on the week of May 23 in 1970, a little-known band was fast on their heals.
The surging group was called The Ides of March, and their soaring single was “Vehicle.” The song was right then at number two, in position to say goodbye America Woman.
Front man Jim Peterik wrote the song about a girl who had been using him just for transportation, but there was little bitterness in the lyrics. In fact, he seems more than happy to serve as chauffeur for the girl, saying “I'm you vehicle, baby, I'll take you anywhere you want to go.”
“Vehicle” lost speed after hitting number two at the end of May, therefore relieving the Guess Who of any worries about being overtaken by the Ides of March. But not everything was beautiful for Burton Cummings and the rest of his Canadian band, for “American Woman” the very next week was overtaken for the number one spot by the Ray Stevens hit “Everything Is Beautiful.”
Things got pretty ugly for Peterik and the Ides of March, who struggled to reach the charts again. A little over a year later, the band split to pursue other paths. It took a few years, but Peterik finally found success when .38 Special rode his song “Rocking in to the Night” to the Top Ten in 1980.
A year later the same band took Peterik's “”Hold on Loosely” to number six, just after he formed Survivor. With help by Sylvester Stallone's Oscar-winning film Rocky II, Peterik's new group scored a smash number one hit with “Eye of the Tiger.”
While he never would hit the top spot again, Peterik with Survivor charted several more times. “The Search Is Over,” from the Gold Certified album Vital Signs, became a Top Ten hit in 1985.
During the ensuing decades Peterik reunited the Ides of March, and at one stint brought Survivor back together. In 2009 he even made an unusual TV appearance, showing up on The Jerry Springer Show as a guest bouncer.
Since that brief screen cameo, Peterik has focused solely on music. He once again revived the Ides of March, who have begun touring again.
The group has travelled with an assortment of headlining bands, from the Beach Boys to Bo Bice to Cheap Trick. Fans are still waiting to see if they will open for the group for whom they opened in their early days, the quartet that gave us “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You.”
A reunion concert with Heart would be a perfect fit for Peterik and the group who drove “Vehicle” to number two, simply based on biographical information. Heart co-founder Nancy Wilson, after all, was born on March 16, just a few hours shy of the Ides.