Mike Post gained his first Grammy Award in 1969 for arranging Mason Williams’ genre-busting hit “Classical Gas,” however his subsequent 4 Grammys got here from composing TV themes. After working as musical director on The Andy Williams Show, Post segued into TV procedurals, scoring lots of the iconic cop and lawyer exhibits of the Eighties and ’90s.
In reality, Post’s work turned so ubiquitous that English rock band The Who named a tune after his small-screen scoring, their 2006 monitor “Mike Post Theme.”
And half a century after his begin within the TV enterprise, Post continues to be working onerous in Hollywood, scoring episodes of Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, two exhibits that kick off together with his immediately recognizable L&O theme and much more well-known dun-dun musical cue.
For the Television Academy Foundation’s Archive of American Television, Post shared the origin tales of lots of his TV themes, and we’re sharing anecdotes from that 2005 interview beneath, alongside clips of his masterpieces.
The Rockford Files (1974)
Post stated he and co-composer Pete Carpenter introduced in blues harmonica, synthesizer, flutes, French horns, and trombones for the theme to this NBC detective drama starring James Garner. But it was the electrical guitar that gave co-creator Stephen J. Cannell pause. “I said, ‘Just go back and listen to your Peter, Paul and Mary records, Cannell. Don’t give me any trouble,’” Post recalled with fun.
Magnum P.I. (1980)
Long earlier than Donald Bellisario co-created the NCIS franchise, he co-created this CBS crime drama, which featured Tom Selleck as a Hawaii-based personal eye (many years earlier than the profitable reboot). “[It was] very easy to do because I knew the character so well.” Post stated. “I’d gone to grammar school, junior high, and high school with Tom Selleck [and have] been friends with him my whole life. And it was easy to capture him. He was right there.”
Hill Street Blues (1981)
Hearing about director Gregory Hoblit’s plan to open this NBC police procedural on the “mean streets” of its unspecified locale, Post steered to creator Steven Bochco that the music “go against” the imagery and be “something really kind of poignant, but not sloppy, sentimental.” He then went house and got here up with the theme tune in half an hour.
The Greatest American Hero (1981)
Post offered the music, Stephen Geyer the lyrics, and Joey Scarbury the vocals for “Believe It or Not,” the theme tune of this ABC superhero comedy-drama, after Cannell approached the composer with the weird premise. “Cannell said, ‘This guy’s flying around in a suit, and he lost the instructions, and he’s got this right-wing CIA agent for a control guy.’ I said, “Cannell, this is nuts. … We’ll call up Stephen Geyer and see if he can write a lyric where he can maybe make an analogy between love and flying in a suit.’ And that’s what we did. [It was a] No. 1. record.”
L.A. Law (1986)
In distinction to Hill Street Blues, Post stated the theme tune for this NBC authorized drama, one other collaboration with Bochco and Hoblit, was “really hard,” and the ultimate model was the fifth theme that he had written for the present. He went with French horns to convey the majesty of the legislation, snare drums for a Beach Boys vibe, and alto sax for the sexiness quotient.
Quantum Leap (1989)
After their Magnum P.I. collaboration, Bellisario had Post create a theme for this NBC sci-fi collection starring Scott Bakula as a physicist stumbling throughout house and time. “Bellisario is a really bright guy, you know, having this guy leap around,” Post stated. “So it had to be playful, but it had to be quirky. It’s like, ‘What the hell are we doing? Where are we?’ Disorienting.”
Doogie Howser, M.D. (1989)
The composer teamed up with Bochco once more on this ABC medical dramedy, which the latter co-created with David E. Kelley. “That’s all about the child, capturing how child-like he was,” Post stated of the theme tune, referring to Neil Patrick Harris’ youngster physician character. “The ultimate fish-out-of-water is this little kid being attached to this great big brain that can be a doctor. And so, I said, ‘Let’s capture the childlike-ness of him. You do the doctor stuff and the visuals and the drama of it, and I’ll capture Doogie. I’ll capture his heart.’”
Law & Order (1990)
Post was concerned with Law & Order when it was nonetheless a CBS pilot and adopted it when it ended up at NBC, composing the theme tune, the rating, and the enduring dun-dun sound. And as a result of that cue is music and never a sound impact, Post will get a royalty each time it’s used. For that motive, L&O creator Dick Wolf as soon as demanded that Post take him out for dinner, because the composer recalled: “He said, ‘I’m probably the reason that you’ve got this one little piece that you’re gonna be known [for] for the rest of your career.’”
NYPD Blue (1993)
When Bochco co-created this ABC cop drama with David Milch and introduced Hoblit on as director, he and Hoblit gave Post “extremely succinct” marching orders, the composer recalled. In reality, they solely gave him two phrases: drums and subway. “I made a groove out of the train sound,” Post stated. “And then I took these big, giant drums that were really inspired by Phil Collins’ ‘In the Air Tonight.’ … So I just really went to work on that.”