The 'ALF' theme song composer was also named Alf, and he has a fascinating TV career
Alf Clausen started with The Partridge Family and wrote most of your favorite Simpsons tunes.
When so many other 1980s sitcoms featured saccharine and bouncy vocal theme songs, ALF opted for an instrumental. Perfect Strangers and Silver Spoons sang of pulling together. The ALF theme song, on the other hand, sounded like Seinfeld's wild slap bass invading the slick jazz of Taxi.
The tune, coincidentally, was composed by a man named Alf, Alf Clausen.
Early in his career, Clausen got a foot in the door in Hollywood with The Partridge Family. With a degree in arranging and composing from the Berklee College of Music, he worked as a copyist on "Come On Get Happy" — in other words, he wrote out sheet music for the various performers. In the 1970s, Clausen largely worked on variety shows, serving as the music director on both Donny & Marie and the short-lived The Mary Tyler Moore Hour.
While working as the composer for ALF, he held the same position on Moonlight. Hearing the ALF theme music, it might not surprise you to learn that he played bass as a teenager in North Dakota.
After ALF wrapped production, Clausen was out of work for months. He then got a call. "I'm a producer on a television series, we're looking to change composers," the man said, "and we were wondering if you would come in for an interview." The series was The Simpsons.
Simpson creator Matt Groening told Clausen, "We don't look upon this as being a cartoon, but a drama where the characters are drawn, and we would like it scored that way. Can you do that?" His first audition episode was "The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror I," in season two. Passing the test, Clausen got the gig as The Simpsons' composer.
The Simpsons is a rather musical show, often slipping into outright musical episodes. In one instance, Clausen had to whip up 57 musical cues in a single week. He also has worked with superstars like Bono and U2 for "The Garbage Man" and Tito Puente for "Senor Burns." Many of his highlights can be heard on the soundtrack album Songs in the Key of Springfield.
ALF, the alien himself, popped up a couple times on The Simpsons, too. Sure, those were probably merely funny pop culture references, but we like to think they were inside nods to their composer, too.