Constant radio requests led to a Happy Days theme song record in mere days
If you ever asked the DJ to put Fonzie's record on, your request was definitely heard.
There was no plan to ever record the Happy Days theme song as a single when the show premiered in 1974.
It was common that TV producers at that time didn’t really consider the theme song to be a hugely marketable part of TV shows just yet.
While there had been some early TV themes that became radio hits, like Dragnet or Hawaii Five-O, these rocking theme songs were not considered the norm — until producer Steve Barri started getting involved in the TV theme song business in 1975.
That year, Barri’s son told him that he loved the "Theme from SWAT" and wished he had a record of it.
Barri listened to the theme song and thought it sounded like the theme from Shaft. Recognizing that his son’s love of the SWAT theme might indicate a larger audience, Barri, who worked at Warner Bros. Records at the time, reached out to SWAT producers.
"The producers of the show were thrilled that we were interested, so I got some studio musicians (Rhythm Heritage) and recorded a single," Barri told the Los Angeles Times in 1976.
The SWAT theme became a hit, and Barri used it as a model for expanding other TV themes for shows like Baretta or Welcome Back, Kotter into hit radio singles.
"We had to rework and stretch all those themes," Barri said. "For instance, on the SWAT theme, we took the basic music and turned it into a disco number by doing things like adding an instrumental break. On ‘Welcome Back,’ I went to work with John Sebastian and added a chorus and a harmonica solo. All you have to do is be careful to maintain the feel of the show and not add anything that doesn’t fit the main theme music."
During all this time when Barri was perfecting the art of translating TV themes into hit records, Happy Days fans were blowing up radio request lines.
Fans called in begging to hear the Happy Days theme song in such numbers that word got around fast and eventually, it came back to Barri that Happy Days producers were leaving money on the table.
According to the Los Angeles Times, "Paul Drew, an executive in the RKO radio chain, informed a music publisher about the many requests for a Happy Days single and stated that if an adequate one were recorded, his stations would play it."
The publisher told Barri, and he responded immediately by sticking a band in the studio.
Barri already had a band in mind for the Happy Days theme, Pratt & McClain.
Within days, the band recorded the song and got it on the radio, swiftly answering fan demand.
"We were looking for a top Top-40 type song for this new group," Barri said. "The Happy Days theme was a natural for their first record. About two days after I heard about the idea, we had put together a record and had given it to the stations. They started playing it right away even though it wasn’t in the stores until nine days later."
That year, the Happy Days theme landed in the top five on the national charts, and its smash success set Barri up for even more success with the Laverne & Shirley and Starsky & Hutch theme songs.
Barri hoped this momentum would revolutionize how TV creators marketed their shows, with more producers bringing in better musicians to crank out memorable theme songs that audiences loved as much as the shows.
"What is important is that television producers now recognize that a good marketable theme can have great publicity value for a show," Barri said. "So, these producers may start hiring more quality singers and writers to come up with themes. The television theme business may become a good outlet for material and a good way to expose artists."
What’s your favorite TV theme song?
Or major characters DISAPPEAR
WITH NO EXPLANATION.
Viewers of every TV show that have
Been on the air have a right to
know what happened to their favorite TV characters and there is
No excuse for the writers of different TV shows who Don't
Explain what.hsppened to characters on TV shows who
Vanish with no explanation.
All it takes is one sentence to explain what happened to TV
Characters who DISAPEAR from
TV shows with no explanation.
From Ed Sawyer on The Andy Griffith Show to the kid called
Seven on Married With Children
And all of the TV Characters in
Between alot of TV Viewers don't
Like it when TV characters on
Their Favorite TV shows Vanish
Into Thin Air.
And Chuck On
Happy Days is NOT the only TV
Character who disappeared from
TV shows With No Explanation
Like Newt Kiley on Green Acres
Angela Brown on My Favorite Martian Chester Anderson and Tooey Brown on Leave It To Beaver
Cpl Boyle on GOMER Pyle USMC
Warren Ferguson on The Andy Griffith Show Lana Sheilds on
Three's Company Moose and
Eugene Belvin and Bag Zombroski on Happy Days and Junior HOCKER and Herbie BATES on Petticoat Junction and Cpl Nick Cuccinelli on
Gomet PYLE USMC ETC.
And some TV shows pretend that
TV Characters who were on a
TV show were Never on.tje TV
Show which makes no sense.
1 Why did Chuck Cunningham 1 Gavan O Herlihy and Chuck Cunningham 2 Randolph Roberts
And Bag Zombroski Neil J Schwartz and Moose Barry Greenberg and Eugene Belvin Denis Mandel and Melvin Belvin Scott Bernstein and
Spike Danny Butch and Daphne Hillary Horan and Cynthia Brannigan Marla Pennington and Flip Phillips Billy Warlock and KC Cunningham Crystal Bernard all DISAPPEAR
From Happy Days with no explanation?
Air In the exact order they
Moose :Barry Greenberg
Chuck Cunningham 1 Gavan O Herlihy
Trudy :Tita Bell
Chuck Cunningham 2 Randolph Roberts
Wendy Misty Rowe
Marsha Simms Beatrice Colen
Gloria Linda Purl
Bag :Neil J Schwartz
Sticks Downey Jr John Anthony Bailey
Spike Danny Butch
Daphne Hillary Horan
Mickey Malph:Jack Dodson and
Eugene Belvin Denis Mandel
Melvin Belvin Scott Bernstein Cynthia Brannigan Marla Pennington
Spunky FONZIEs dog also
Vanished from HAPPY DAYS
On Green Acres Lisa's dog
Also Newt Kiley Kay Kuter and Roy Trendell (Robert Foulk)
Vanished from Green Acres
And on Petticoat Junction
Junior HOCKER played by
Russ Horton and Herbie BATES
Played by Don Washbrook
Vanished and on Gomer Pyle USMC Cpl Nick Cuccinelli Tommy Leonetti and Corporal Chuck Boyle went upstairs and
Never came back down
Ed Sawyer William Lanteau
Also Vanished from The
Andy Griffith Show.
Chuck Cunningham 2 Randolph Roberts got rid of his apartment andobed back to his
Parents house Howard Cunningham and Marion.
Do Chuck Cunningham went upstairs and never came back
Down!Why did Chuck Cunningham go upstairs and
Never came back down?
Because nobody told Chuck
To come back Downstairs !!!
Person and I am happy that
Garry Marshall created the hit show
Happy Days and Fred Silverman
Made Happy Days last several
years by giving Fonzie more air time
And making FONZIE one of the
Main cast Members of Happy Days.
"Barri listened to the theme song and thought it sounded like the theme from Shaft. Recognizing that his son’s love of the SWAT theme might indicate a larger audience, Barri, who worked at Warner Bros. Records at the time, reached out to SWAT producers."
Songs, by definition, MUST HAVE LYRICS; in the absence of lyrics, it is MUSIC, just music, and "song" is a subset of music.
"Happy Days' did have a song; while an instrumental cover of a composition that originally had lyrics is still a song, that does notg describe "S.W.A.T"s opening theme. It was just music (not very good music, but that's a different discussion).
Anyone who does not understand the distinction between "song" and "music" is not qualified to write about either.
The song itself is very powerful, and mated to the visuals . . . it tells you right away, "You're still in the United States, but this is a different world."
Other TV theme songs that charted as hits (I've got a playlist of about sixty, but here are the ones that really stand out): Secret Agent Man, Mission Impossible, Here Come the Brides, Chico and the Man, Welcome Back Kotter, The Greatest American Hero, The Heights (How Do You Talk to an Angel?), and Friends.
I should also make some mention of the absolutely kick-butt *closing* theme to WKRP in Cincinnati.