The A-Team theme song directly ripped off this rock song

The same composers were behind everything from The Rockford Files to The Andy Griffith Show.

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Everyone who read The A-Team pilot script knew that the show was going to be something special.

Iconic theme song composer Mike Post told the Television Academy, "That script, I laughed till I cried."

He’d been approached to write the theme song after winning Grammys for his work on The Rockford Files and Hill Street Blues themes.

Partnering with Pete Carpenter — a veteran arranger who got his start teaming up with Earle Hagen to do music for Bewitched, The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. — Post said the theme song came together "really easily."

He and Carpenter agreed on how to start the theme song: "It’s got to be military, because that’s where these guys all met."

But when it came to the middle section of the theme song, Post had a very specific idea in mind.

He was not just inspired by the biggest song released by the rock band Cream — a song many critics credit for fully merging blues with rock and roll. He said he decided to directly "rip it off."

"The middle section’s gotta be: let’s rip off Cream," Post recalled telling Carpenter. "Let’s rip off ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ in the middle section."

If you listen to "Sunshine of Your Love," then The A-Team theme back-to-back, you won’t be able to unhear the distinct riff that made the song so hugely popular for Cream.

That riff did the same thing for The A-Team, with people all around the world rocking out to its theme song, episode after episode.

"Sunshine of Your Love" may not have been as familiar to The A-Team fans, though, as the song was released in 1967, 15 years before The A-Team premiered.

A whole new generation of kids tuning in to cheer on Mr. T were more likely bopping to bands like Duran Duran or Styx, not spinning old Cream records.

It’s likely, though, that Cream bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce had no hard feelings over Post’s derivative use of his riff. Bruce said he kinda ripped the riff off, too — crediting Jimi Hendrix for putting the riff in his head after Bruce attended one of his sensational concerts.

However, in 1968, "Sunshine of Your Love" was one of the most popular singles, and its popularity has endured in the hearts of critics, if not also in the hearts of casual music fans.

It’s frequently cited among the greatest songs of all time, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame even listed it as one of "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll."

Now we know it was also one of the greatest songs to shape TV theme song music, too.

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Kier 19 months ago
Surely the bridge section rips off 'Get Ready' by The Temptations far more than 'Sunshine of Your Love'??
Lacey 23 months ago
"Everyone who read The A-Team pilot script knew that the show was going to be something special."
Well, not EVERYONE. The critics hated the show and one said it would not last six weeks.
Great theme though.
LowSparkofLyman 23 months ago
Never thought of Sunshine of Your Love, but part of the theme reminded me of Dirty Woman by Black Sabbath (who, it should be noted, was influenced by Cream).
Listening to it now, I sort of hear the Sunshine of Your Love riff, but it still feels more like Dirty Women (not Dirty Woman, as I said previously) to me.
BenSchockley 23 months ago
I heard that it was zippity doo dah.
tootsieg 23 months ago
I listened to the theme song closely and I don’t hear “Sunshine of Your Love” at all.
Michael 23 months ago
Meanwhile, James Caan has died. I don't think he did much tv, but he was a main character on Las Vegas from 2003. And his son Scott was "Dano" and the remade Hawaii-50
MikeLutton 23 months ago
im sorry i listened to both songs they don't sound alike at all
WordsmithWorks 23 months ago
I had not heard that before, as I have only watched the show a few times. Although I can hear the "Sunshine" riff, I'm not sure how much of a real "rip off" it is.
Runeshaper 23 months ago
Good story (-: My dad loves Jimi Hendrix!
VanHalen 23 months ago
A - team, to me, is the "Z" team. Peppard really must have needed cash to accept that role which I think is very demeaning. Might have seen 5 minutes in 2 shows ea. and THAT was more than enuff'
BuckeyeBeth VanHalen 23 months ago
I’m not sure if I read the article here or somewhere else. Might’ve been a YouTube interview come to think of it. George said that he had gotten a reputation of being incredibly difficult to work with because he was a drunk on and off set. He found that all offers for any type of jobs had dried up. Even though apparently he really didn’t need the money he said he went after the A-Team to prove to everyone, but especially his children, that he had sobered up and could do a respectable days work. I’ve seen video of Dwight Schultz at conventions on stage talking about how the very first time he met George was in the make-up trailer on the first day. George came up to him to shake his hand and said “I am George Peppard and I am not a very nice man”. He was nice enough of a person to warn people that he used to be a drunk and could be difficult.
Pacificsun VanHalen 23 months ago
😉 So this is a great place for conversations, that's all they are. And with due respect to everyone's opinion, is a given.

And I would ask just out of curiosity, what's the nature of "role which is very demeaning." It's Eighties television from '83 to '87, and among the team of Stephen Cannell & Frank Lupo specialities. Action/adventure with a kick, and IMO a novel premise for the times. There are only so many detective, doctor, western, etc. genres. And clearly the team meant no more than escapist fare. It takes a collection of reading to understand George Peppard. Not that there's any defense for irresponsible, mean behavior. But he had the good sense to recognize (and apparently apologize) and be a mentor to others of the same ilk. He was NOT that solvent at all, admitting much debt, but correct in assuming he was trying to restore a reputation demonstrating an improvement to his children.

It's an old argument that those in public life (who take on that burden themselves) are held to a more unforgiving standard than those of us with undiscovered secrets.

Television is about experimentation and unlimited choices. The talent/invention of Canell & Lupo added to the mix, and for the actors (who seemed) to do no wrong in Magnum, Hill Street, Greatest Am Hero (and the list goes on) earn a lot of praise.

Jaxter14 VanHalen 23 months ago
Actually George said it was his all time favorite roll.
AgingDisgracefully 23 months ago
Careful messing with Cream.
Eric Clapton has proved to a litigious old bastard.
Maverick66 23 months ago
Just listened to the theme song as the show started. That was an extremely subtle ripoff, not a blatant one. I would never have made the association if I hadn't read this article. I doubt I'll be thinking of Cream & "Sunshine of Your Love" every time the show comes on - once in a while maybe, but (again) only because of this article.
jaelinsmith40652 23 months ago
That song really rocks everytime when I watch The A Team every day now until September I hear in my head as I walk outside or inside at my home.
Pacificsun 23 months ago
File: All Things A-Team
Under Music

Very rare original promo clip with outstanding music and video! Enjoy!!
BuckeyeBeth Pacificsun 23 months ago
I kind of hear it. It starts at the 1:07 mark.
Thank you for posting this! 🍻
Zip Pacificsun 23 months ago
That was fun. And sooooo 80's. Can't believe I never saw this before. Thanks for posting it!
Pacificsun 23 months ago
Staff Writers: Other theme songs by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter. [ You can't get by what Classic TV viewers remember hearing to lead in their favorite shows!! ]
Pacificsun 23 months ago
Staff Writers: not sure if they were behind the Andy Griffith Theme Song.
MrsPhilHarris Pacificsun 23 months ago
A real jazzy version.
Andybandit 23 months ago
I like the A-Team theme song, and a lot of other shows theme songs.
Pacificsun 23 months ago
Nope, can't hear any "Sumer of Love" in the A-Team Theme. But Mike Post's thumbprint is unmistakable. Seems to me he took more of the instruments from Magnum PI and changed up the beat. Either way, Mike Post was a genius in creating television theme songs.

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LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 23 months ago
Not memory, just a quick search. Wish I could remember the more recent ones. I know they did one less than a year ago that had multiple youtube music videos in it. Oh well. However for all us tin eared listeners, they could have had an example to help us hear the distinct riff they mention. LOL
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 23 months ago
𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘤𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯
𝓲𝓷𝓽𝓮𝓻𝓮𝓼𝓽𝓲𝓷𝓰 𝓬𝓸𝓵𝓵𝓮𝓬𝓽𝓲𝓸𝓷
𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙘𝙤𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣

Just funning, there are a few text generators that you can italicize and probably other things.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 23 months ago
Right, but how'd you do it inside MeTV's dialogue box? Does it accept HTML?
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