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TV Theme Songs: Magnum, P.I.

"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale" of a time when television shows began with awesome TV Theme Songs. "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name" and sometimes you want to go back to when TV Theme songs were special. "Here's a story... of a lovely" time when TV Theme Songs served to identify, distinguish and set the stage for the television program that followed. "You take the good, take the bad, take them both and there you have" what unfortunately has become a lost artform. "Believe it or not", sadly it seems no effort or pride is taken in the TV Theme Song ever since Seinfeld proved a short synth-bass riff could be used instead. “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” This regular feature may not "make all our dreams come true", but it will remember some of the best TV Theme Songs from years past (with a focus on the '80s decade). "Come aboard, we're expecting you." This time we will cover the theme song for Magnum, P.I.. Magnum, P.I. debuted in December of 1980 and ran for eight seasons and 162 episodes and became one of the more popular show's in the U.S. at least for the first five seasons or so. The third season ranked as high as #3 overall in the Nielsen ratings. The show starred Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a private investigator working in Hawaii. The show's pilot and first nine regular episodes had an original instrumental theme song, but the one that is most recognizable ran starting in episode 12 and for the remainder of the show's 8-year run. This instrumental theme song was composed by the prolific Mike Post and Peter Carpenter. Mike Post is credited with many great television theme songs including co-writing one of my very favorites, The Greatest American Hero, with Stephen Geyer. He also created The Rockford Files, The White Shadow, Hill Street Blues, The A-Team, Hunter, L.A. Law, Doogie Howser, M.D. and Quantum Leap among many others. Carpenter previously collaborated with Post on the theme song for The Rockford Files and contributed to the scores on other '80s shows including CHiPs, The A-Team, Hardcastle and McCormick, Hunter after work on shows like Bewitched, Gomer Pyle and The Andy Griffith Show in the '60s. Post brought in accomplished guitarist Larry Carlton to perform on the track and provide that up tempo guitar that grabs your attention. Before he transitioned completely to a solo career, Carlton had become one of the most in-demand studio musicians with more than 3,000 studio sessions under his belt by the early '80s he had performed on over 100 gold records. Post would bring Carlton in again to perform on the 1981 theme song for Hill Street Blues. A longer version called "Theme from Magnum, P.I." was released as a single by Elektra Records in 1982. Not only was this instrumental released as a single, it made it onto the U.S. pop charts peaking at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May of 1982. Here are the opening credits for Magnum, P.I. featuring the theme song performed by Mike Post featuring Larry Carlton...

It's interesting to know that the iconic theme song that is instantly recognizable to most of us around in the '80s wasn't the original theme song. Just think there is a possibility that the Magnum, P.I. we know might have never been more than background music in an episode chase scene or something like that. As mentioned here several times before, I generally prefer television theme songs with lyrics/vocals, but there are definitely a handful of them that are just instrumentals which I also consider truly special. Magnum, P.I. is certainly one of those and is one of the iconic theme songs of the '80s. Hope you enjoyed tuning in for another "episode" of TV Theme Songs!


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