As a sequel to a previous post on my favorite TV Themes of the 1980s, I decided to visit the topic again, only a decade before- the 1970s. There were some great theme songs from that time (and some not so great) that once you hear the song, you know immediately the show. These are in no particular order. So once again, hum or sing along.
- “Moving On Up” (The Jeffersons). One of the more popular theme songs is from this second spin off of “All and The Family,” which ran from 1975-1985. The song was written by Jeff Barry, who wrote or co wrote songs like “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Then He Kissed Me,” “Be My Baby,” “Chapel of Love,” and “Sugar Sugar,” along with actress Ja’net Dubois, who also sang on the theme for “Good Times” and played the character Willona Woods on the show. The choir in the theme is a great addition to the clap along song about moving up to the rich side of town. Also of note, Barry is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and helped on songs like “Hanky Panky,” and helped produce songs for The Monkees. With all of the success of the show and co writers, it’s kind of surprising that this song did not chart in the Top 40.
- “The Streetbeater” (Sanford and Son). This funky song by Quincy Jones is a favorite of mine, and when I hear it, I can think of that pickup truck coming down the road filled with junk for Redd Foxx to sell. Some may not know that the show, which ran from 1972-1977 was actually based on a BBC show called “Steptoe and Son.” Nonetheless, the show was not only great, but this theme song as well- it also makes a great ringtone!!
- “The Theme to Barney Miller.” Barney Miller (1975-1982) was a favorite show of mine growing up. It was a different type of cop show- it was a comedy but not slap stick comedy. The characters were great, especially Fish, the grumpy old New York cop. The theme was performed by Chuck Berghofer, who worked with Glenn Campbell, and Nancy Sinatra. He also played on themes for “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Carol Burnette Show,” and a few of the Rocky films. We would play the theme during sound checks when I was a local drummer in several bands.
- “Those Were The Days.” (All in the Family) One of my favorite shows of the 1970s was this one featuring Archie Bunker. During the 1971-1979 run of the original show, it was one of the top rated shows of its time. The opening was different, seeing actors Caroll O’Conner and Jean Stapleton sitting at the piano singing. The theme song actually charted on the AC Charts in 1972, reaching number 30. The writers were Lee Adams and Charles Strouse, who are both in the Songwriters Hall of Fame for their works that include “Annie,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” and the film “Bonnie and Clyde.” The theme is perfect for the character of Archie Bunker, a man who is set in the old ways of life.
- “Come On Get Happy” (The Partridge Family). This theme song was the second one used for the show, and is the most famous. The show about a traveling family in a rock band was based on real life band The Cowsills, and ran from 1970-1974. The show made David Cassidy a superstar and start a singing career (he and Shirley Jones were the only two actors allowed to sing on the recordings).
- “Welcome Back” (Welcome Back Kotter). One of the best own TV songs of the decade was this one by the Lovin Spoonful’s singer, John Sebastian, and hit #1 on the charts in 1976. The song was rumored to be called “Kotter” but Sebastian changed it due to not being able to find words that rhymed with the name, so the TV executives changed the title of the show. Not only was the song popular, but the show also brought comic books, clothing, and action figures. The show about a teacher coming back to where he went to school had great characters like Freddy Boom Boom Washington and Vinnie Barbarino, who was played at the time by an actor named John Travolta. The theme song is one that fits with the idea of the show perfectly.
- “Happy Days.” (Happy Days). This was the second theme used by the show. In Season 1, the theme song used was Bill Hayley’s “Rock Around the Clock” which tied in with the 1950s theme of the show. There were a few different singers that worked on this theme, but the producers decided on the one that became the most known by Pratt and McClain, which hit #5 on the charts in 1976. The theme was written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel, who worked on the themes for “Wonder Woman,” “The Love Boat,” and “Laverne and Shirley.” The Pratt and McClain version started in Season 3-10. This show was also known for creating the TV term “jumping the shark,” which means that there is an outlandish plot in order to get ratings. This happened in 1977 when the character Fonzie went waterskiing over a shark. The show did continue a few years after this and even had two spin offs, “Laverne and Shirley” and “Joanie Loves Chachi.”
The 1970s had some great shows, along with great music. However the 1970s did not seem to be the decade of top charting songs compared to the 1980s.
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