Sometimes you desire to go whereby everybody knows her name… (Photo: Lara/flickr) 

A variation of this short article originally showed up on the Tedium newsletter.

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One the David Bowie’s critical acts was releasing his album Blackstar, at this time sitting at the peak of the Billboard charts. Less famous is that Bowie helped promote the album by giving the title monitor to the album to the producer of The last Panthers, a brand-new TV present in the U.K.

It’s usual enough, of course, for well known musicians to contribute TV themes: Think that HBO’s The Wire’s use of Tom Waits’ “Way down in the Hole.” yet most TV template music doesn’t lug the pedigree the the thin White Duke. 

Shows choose The gold Girls, Cheers, Law and also Order, and also The Flintstones have songs that space significantly more famous 보다 their creators. For the couple of who deserve to make a career the end of contributing original theme music, the rewards can be great. The creators of these themes hold the exact numbers close to your chest, likely since of the sheer complexity of the royalty system used, but if the show is one constantly in syndication, it might produce royalties in the millions.

Those who write original songs often become like sidemen, stand in the shadows the a standard TV show. There room the cartoon specialists, prefer Hoyt Curtin, that composed the music for plenty of of Hanna-Barbera’s Saturday morning programs and the legit procedural agree Mike Post, who turned Law and also Order work into a sonic kingdom. Yet no single icon of TV themedom stands out an ext than Jesse Frederick, the king that 1980s Friday night programming.

When Jesse Frederick started working together a musician, it to be not with the goal of creating music for television. Frederick, a native of Salisbury, Maryland, belonged the singer-songwriter era that the 1960s and also ‘70s. A troubadour v a voice and also style comparable to van Morrison, he was signed come Bearsville Records, the exact same label together Todd Rundgren, the Laura Nyro enthusiast that mastered Frederick’s self-titled record in 1971.


Jesse Frederick’s 1971 LP. In the 1980s, Frederick wrote and performed numerous TV design template songs. (Photo: Bearsville Records/WikiCommons)

Frederick’s work, unfortunately, was the worst sort of successful: it was critically acclaimed, yet didn’t move units. Regardless of his later on fame as a sitcom tunesmith, his album is for this reason obscure that the usually-on-point music website Allmusic couldn’t it is in bothered to create a single sentence around him. Just 19 once the album, Frederick’s at an early stage failure wasn’t sufficient to protect against his dream, however—he moved on native Bearsville and recorded a couple of other albums, no one of which observed the irradiate of day.

But sometimes, fate has a funny means of working out (which is sort of the lesson of all the theme songs he did). ~ scoring a handful of films, most famously the 1984 Garry Marshall flick The Flamingo Kid, Frederick followed Marshall come the producer’s normal medium—television. Beginning a an imaginative partnership through Marshall’s longtime music male Bennett Salvay, the 2 musicians ultimately followed producers cutting board L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett from Paramount come the just-formed Miller/Boyett Productions in 1985.

The very first big Miller/Boyett project Frederick and also Salvay took on was a small ditty for a show called Perfect Strangers. The song, “Nothing’s walk to stop Me Now,” to be instantly iconic—it had actually the high quality of being both easy to remember and easy to parody. Frederick, however, did no actually sing the tune that the wrote: the prize went to a man named David Pomeranz—who looks favor what you would suppose from a merger of Mark-Linn Baker and Bronson Pinchot.

Quickly enough, Frederick went from simply co-writing the song to singing them. His voice—a raspy, bluesy tool—can it is in heard in the opening credits that Full House, Family Matters, and Step through Step. In total, Frederick go the layout songs because that 12 various sitcoms in the 1980s and 1990s, the themes because that which have the right to be discovered on this page.

And Gary Portnoy, the man who composed the theme tune to Cheers, had the ability to retire early, thanks to the show’s success and its longevity in syndication. The wasn’t clean at first, however, the it was going to last almost that long.

“I think I gained $150 because that the Cheers theme. And I had a very powerful lawyer, and also he just says, ‘Look, everything it’s gonna be, it’s gonna be, however you’re no gonna make her money up front. So go for it,’” he told Marketplace last year.


Bob Denver, Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island, intimidated to take it his name off the present unless the full cast was attributed in the theme song. (Photo: CBS Television/ public Domain/WikiCommons)

This success, however, can reduced both ways. One more (more famous) action that acquired lucky an ext recently, the Barenaked Ladies, has confronted a bout of inner strife in recent months over The huge Bang Theory’s layout song, with former lead singer Steven page claiming the he’s been cut out that the equation in donate of the guy singing on the theme song, Ed Robertson. Earlier in September, page sued because that 20 percent the the song’s proceeds.

Theme songs also have a method of resurfacing standard songs and also driving interest into less-common parts of a musical act’s catalog—think Married through Children’s usage of candid Sinatra’s “Love and also Marriage.” but at times, a design template song can turn a failure right into a success.

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Such is the instance of “Thank You for Being a Friend,” the theme tune to The golden Girls. The tune, as originally released, to be a one-hit wonder’s second attempt at a hit. Andrew Gold, the male who composed it, might only acquire it up to 25 on the charts, however that’s OK, due to the fact that Estelle Getty made that famous. Cynthia Fee, the voice behind the TV display rendition, was a seasoned commercial jingle singer that the era, though she’s since branched out.