Classic Rock Sunday: Mike Post and Pete Carpenter

In Classic Rock Sunday by Tanzi2 Comments

OK so this technically isn’t rock but it’s Classic and I love these songs. Mike Post and Pete Carpenter were responsible for just about every great TV theme song of the 1970s and 80s. Mike Post was a well respected session musician and musical director of the Andy Williams show in the early 60s. He was a member of Kenny Rogers’ First Edition, played guitar on “I Got You Babe” and won a Grammy at age 22 for Best Instrumental Arrangement on Classical Gas. Pete Carpenter was also a session guy, a jazz trombonist and TV composer who wrote music for many early 60s TV shows. The two teamed up in 1968 and occasionally worked together but their big break came in 1975 when Stephen J. Cannell asked them to write the theme for his new detective show starring James Garner, The Rockford Files:

The show was a huge hit and the song actually got radio airplay, plus it earned a Grammy as Best Instrumental. Suddenly every TV show wanted Post and Carpenter but Stephen J. Cannell had first dibs. Luckily for Post and Carpenter that Cannell was the hottest producer in television. The collaboration led to one iconic theme after another. Perhaps their best know is the A Team theme:

But some of their lesser know themes are just as good. How about Hardcastle and McCormick? This one actually qualifies as Rock:

Was there ever a cooler opening than CHiPs? Dig that funky bass line:
Edit: A reader has pointed out in the comments that the CHiPs theme was actually written by John Parker. Thanks cindylover1969!

I love the finger quotes. It’s “CHiPs”, not CHiPs.

The Greatest American Hero had one of the best themes of all time. This one hit #2 on the Top 40, back when that actually meant something:

You say you want more? How about Magnum PI? The opening grabs you by the mustache and pulls you in:

Another all time great was the theme to Hunter:

Works for me. I forgot about Dee Dee McCall’s shitty Dodge Daytona.

Sadly, Pete Carpenter died in 1987 but Mike Post is still going strong, with themes to LA Law, NYPD Blue, Law and Order and tons of others. Post and Carpenter may not be household names and they probably don’t get recognized on the street but they’ve been heard around the world for more than 30 years by literally billions of people.

Here’s a little bonus: Mike Post had a side project, the Mike Post Coalition. He released at least one classic 45: Bubblegum Breakthrough:

Definitely could have been the theme of an action adventure show.

The flip side is Afternoon of the Rhino:

This one sounds like a legal drama to me.

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