12 classic TV shows that changed their theme songs
Do you remember the original tunes from 'The Twilight Zone' and 'Family Matters'?
The song doesn't always remain the same. Just take a listen to these twelve major changes to TV theme songs. For the most part, they were all wise moves in hindsight, as you will be most familiar with the replacements. Well, except for one famous Western…
1. Happy Days
Rock & roll legend Haley re-recorded his hit in 1973 for the sitcom. The tune was used in the first two seasons, which overall vary stylistically from the rest of the series. In season three, the familiar "Happy Days," sung by Jimmy Haas, took over as the opening theme. In season 11, the song was given a fresh update with Bobby Arvon on lead vox.
2. The Twilight Zone
Hollywood maestro and Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann composed a dreamy, eerie piece for the first season. In season two, that overshadowed music was replaced with the now iconic "do-DO-do-do, do-DO-do-do" music, written by French avant-garde composer Marius Constant.
The galloping Western classic remains one of the most familiar theme songs in television history. Oddly, for season 12, in 1970–71, the show replaced that brilliant work with a more '70s groove. Today, this one-year abberation remains forgotten.
4. Bosom Buddies
Tom Hank's breakthrough drag comedy nabbed a big name when it roped in the Piano Man and his jaunty, defiant "My Life." However, Bill Joel is a major pop star with high royalty rates, so that No. 3 Billboard smash was replaced with funkier, stereotypical '80s theme.
5. Remington Steele
In its first season, the lighthearted mystery series focused on its lead female detective, as star Stephanie Zimbalist narrated the premise of the show over a woozy, late-night jazz number. The following year, film score mastermind Henry Mancini switched it out for something a little peppier and brassier.
6. The Rebel
Original: "The Ballad of Johnny Yuma" by Richard Markowitz, sung by Johnny Cash
New: "Dodge City" by Jack Trombey
The one and only Man in Black bellowed the original theme to the hit Nick Adams Western. Oddly, Adams himself was the first to release a single of the song in 1960. Cash released his version in 1961. As with Bosom Buddies, this big-name singer had to be replaced in syndication. Instead, The Rebel now airs with a piece of stock music.
7. Magnum, P.I.
It's fascinating what difference a theme song can make. The initial piece of music used for Tom Selleck's action classic featured a funky bassline that seemed like a remnant of the 1970s. However, this was 1980. Halfway through the first season, it was wisely replaced with something sleek for the new decade, complete with a rocking guitar riff fit for the roaring red Ferrari.
Image: NBCUniversal Television Distribution
8. The Partridge Family
The musical family comedy naturally showcased its singing stars with its opening salvo. After season one, the tune remained the same but the lyrics were changed to the now-familiar version.
Image: Sony Pictures Television
9. I Dream of Jeannie
To most, the original jazz opening to this magical sitcom will sound alien. Despite kicking off with a drum solo, it feels rather flat. Producers heard the flaws and replaced the theme when the show went full color in season two. Montenegro's swinging, hep instrumental was the perfect bachelor pad music for the era.
Image: Screen Gems
10. Starsky & Hutch
As with Magnum, P.I., this buddy cop show featured a fine, if generic and somewhat dated theme at its start. It too upgraded with something a little flashier and fit for its funky time.
11. Family Matters
Yep, the Urkel show originally began with Louie Armstrong's melancholy classic. On the other hand, Jesse Frederick's peppy, narrative tune embodied the early-'90s family sitcom theme.
Image: Warner Bros.
12. Simon & Simon
The second theme by De Vorzon, with its slide guitar, saxophone and dash of Southern boogie, is more associated with this '80s action staple. The original piece used by the buddy series sounded a bit like a Jimmy Buffett outtake. Like so many others on this list, it was replaced after the first season.
Image: NBCUniversal Television Distribution
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Image: The Everett Collection