My Favorite TV Theme Songs From The Seventies

Every child of the Seventies has their favorite TV shows and accompanying themes and your boy HERC is no different.   In 1979 or 1980 at the same time I picked up The Book Of Lists 2, I bought the wonderful book pictured below and through the years, I've bought all eight updated, enlarged and revised editions.  
Back then, most of my non-comic book purchases were still coming from Scholastic Book Club, though I did have a magazine subscription from Marvel comics, too.  Below are the only three magazines I bought regularly or subscribed to until about August 1980 when I started high school and my focus changed.  It would be almost two years before I started another magazne subscription.
Getting back to television shows and theme songs, record labels have released dozens of albums and CDs (above)through the years in an effort to meet the demand of nostalgic collectors and in a future series of posts, I'll run down a few of them but today all I've got is a simple fifteen song list.  In no particular order, here are my favorite TV show theme songs from shows that were on during the 1970s.  The songs are chosen on their own musical merit and I may or may not have been a fan of the show itself.  Let me know what your favorites are in the comments.  (Those of you with a thirst for TV theme songs and bracketology, should head over HERE pronto.)
All images in this article were chosen soley for their appeal to me.  

originally aired 1969-1974
The Cowsills sang the theme song for first season only; after that it was studio singers.  I often serenade my ever-patient wife with this theme song.  Both the show and the song are favorites of mine.  Paid top dollar for sloppy TV Land dubs on DVD before official release of Season One in 2007 and 2008. 
The Happy Days pilot originally aired on an episode of Love American Style as "Love And The Television Set" on February 25, 1972.  When Love American Style went into repeat syndication following the premiere of Happy Days, the segment was renamed "Love And The Happy Days".
originally aired 1974-1984
When Happy Days debuted properly on January 15, 1974, a re-recorded version of the seminal rock n roll classic "Rock Around The Clock" was used as the show's opening theme song.  (In February 1974, the original version of the song was re-released due to it's inclusion in the film American Graffiti the previous year and peaked just inside the Top 40 at #39 on May 25, 1974.)  For the first two seasons of the show, the closing theme, also titled "Happy Days", was sung by Jim Haas.  Beginning with the third season, a newly recorded version of "Happy Days", credited to Pratt & McClain was heard as both the opening and closing theme of the show.  I bought the Pratt & McClain 45 the first time I saw it in a store and still have it to this date.  The 45 pictured above is cool because it has both theme songs.

originally aired 1971-2006
Soul Train had an incredible thirteen different theme songs during it's thirty-five year run - this is the second one, heard from October 1973 through August 1975 and it is my favorite. As near as I can figure I first started watching the show on Chicago's WGN in 1974 when we moved to Rantoul, Illinois. The theme version is somewhat different than the mostly instrumental "TSOP" single in that the Three Degrees sing the "People all over the world" and "Soul Train" repeatedly instead of "doot-doot-doo" and "Let's get it on/It's time to get down" like they did in original version.  Someone should compile a CD of all the different Soul Train themes.

originally aired 1979-1985
Big fan of the adventures of the cousins Duke and their General Lee back in the day but Daisy, in her nylon-covered legs and Daisy Dukes, did nothing for even the horny teen me. (Jessica Simpson, in the 2005 movie version, is another story altogether.)  Watching the show now as a proud and intelligent redneck, which is not the oxymoron you might think it is, I have issues with it that I didn't have back when I was a kid.  Still, the theme song, narration and frequent airborne activity of the General Lee always strike a pleasant chord.
Would definitely need the 45 above for my Dream Jukebox. Has there ever been a stranger pairing of two songs on a seven inch single?
originally aired 1977-1983
A disco-riffic theme that pleasantly sneaks up on you as you watch; first, you're zooming along with Ponch or Jon, POV-style, weaving in and out of traffic in high-speed pursuit and then the kick drum comes in.  Having loved the show growing up, I was very excited when it returned to the airwaves via MeTV just last year but quickly lost interest in anything but the music after the third episode.  Fortunately, there are CDs devoted to the many musical cues used in the show.

originally aired 1970-1974
For the first season of the show, which was loosely based on the lives of The Cowsills (see above), a different song was used as the opening theme.  It was called "When We're Singin'" and featured lyrics that told the story of the first episode.  For Season Two, the lyrics were re-written to the same tune to be more open-ended and it was re-titled "C'Mon, Get Happy." This was another show that recently recaptured my attention when it began airing on Antenna TV last year I faithfully DVR'd and watched every single episode right up until the end.  Though the fascination with Ricky Segall completely escapes me, I will someday soon own the complete series on DVD.  And while I have all the albums on CD, it bothers me a little that there are still songs performed on the show that have yet to be released.  If a label like Bear Family ever got their paws on the Partridge Family master recordings and issued every take of every song David, Shirley and The Wrecking Crew ever put on tape, I'd pony up a few bucks for that.  Strangely for such a prolific act that released eight albums in five years, the group's 1989 Greatest Hits CD was the first place I could find the show's theme song.

originally aired 1979
Great song for a bad show.  How bad?  The show was cancelled the same week the theme song was released as a single.  Fortunately, the label (RSO) had the foresight to include an extended mix of "Makin' It" on the soundtrack album to Meatballs, released a few months later.  I remember the song was absolutely huge on WLS that Summer after debuting at number 44 on May 12, 1979 on their weekly survey.  That same week, the song debuted in the Top 40 of the Hot 100 in its seventh week on the charts.  It ended up peaking at number 2 on the WLS weekly survey on June 30th and number 5 on the Hot 100 three weeks later.  "Makin' It" also made it to number 11 on the Disco chart, number 48 on the Adult Contemporary chart, number 5 on Cashbox and number 9 on Record World.

originally aired 1977-1987
Jack Jones sang the show's signature theme song for the first eight seasons but was replaced by Dionne Warwick for the show's final season.  And, on the second of her seven appearances on the show as April Lopez, Charo sang the show's theme song in a disco-fied version.  But it was Jack's original single that made the Adult Contemporary chart in 1980, docking at number 37.

originally aired 1972-1983
Yes, the song has lyrics (written by a 14 year old!) but I prefer the instrumental, actual theme to the show.  M*A*S*H was my favorite non-cartoon or kiddie show growing up and it comforts me now.  Well, the earlier, funnier episodes do.

"Theme From S.W.A.T."
originally aired 1975-1976
Loved this song from the first time I heard it on the radio (WLS, probably) but when I went to buy the single they were sold out so I bought the album, my first album.  Tried watching the show once but it held no appeal.  I know that Rhythm Heritage did not perform the actual theme song but I prefer their version which exists in two lengths, 2:47 and 4:07.  It was a Number One Song on Billboard's Hot 100 as well as the Cashbox and Record World singles charts.  In Canada, the THP Orchestra took their version of the theme to Number One while the Rhythm Heritage rendition stalled at number 31.

originally aired 1975-1978
First heard this song on the Rhythm Heritage album mentioned above in a slightly different arrangement.  Managed to catch a few episodes of the show and was impressed with Sammy Davis Jr.'s handling of the theme.  His single Bubbled Under the Hot 100 but climbed to number 42 on the Adult Contemporary chart while Rhythm Heritage's take made Top 20 on the Hot 100 and R&B charts and even higher on the AC chart.

"Welcome Back"
originally aired 1975-1979
Lovin' Spoonful alumnus John Sebastian was asked to write the theme to a new show called Kotter.  His composition so impressed the creators and producers of the show, they changed the title of the show to Welcome Back, Kotter.  I loved this show when I was younger, think I watched every single episode a few times and was a little excited when it was resurrected on MeTV last year.  After two episodes, I decided I couldn't take anymore.  Funny how things change even when they stay the same.  You know what hasn't changed?  The gentle groove and smooth vocals on this song which I remember buying around my tenth birthday in April 1976.  It was Number One across the three major pop singles charts and also topped the AC chart.

originally aired 1972-1977

This funky organ and harmonica workout was a welcome treat each week as the show began though it would be another decade or so before I laid my ears on the full length, hornier version which I now prefer. The single was the b-side to "Summer In The City" (a cover of a Lovin' Spoonful #1 hit written by John Sebastian) which Bubbled Under the Hot 100 and peaked at number 30 on the AC chart.

originally aired 1978-1982
The show's opening credits theme song was pleasant enough but it wasn't until later, after the show went off the air, that I found out that there was a full length single version released as well as an album (above).  The single missed the Top 40 on the Hot 100 and but hit number 29 on the AC charts but still managed to get some play somewhere - just not anywhere my ears happened to be at the time.  Buckner and Garcia, the pair responsible for writing and performing "Pac-Man Fever", contributed two songs to the album which was produced by another two gentlemen who worked for their production company, Buckner-Garcia Productions.  Though I have the single on two CD titles, I still have hopes of someday finding either the 45 or the album in a bin for a decent price.

originally aired 1978-1983
A beautiful little muted melody that has always had a soothing and calming effect on me.  I always called it "Theme From Taxi" and was a little disappointed when I found out the music I had enjoyed so much was actually titled "Angela", which is my sister's name.  If you have a sister, you know what I mean.

Those are my top fifteen - what are yours?

Honorable Mentions:
American Bandstand
The Six Million Dollar Man
Barney Miller
The Rockford Files
Richie Brockelman, Private Eye
The Jeffersons
Good Times
Hawaii Five-0
Kolchak: The Night Stalker
Laverne & Shirley
Wonder Woman
The Courtship Of Eddie's Father
The Muppet Show
Charlie's Angels
Battlestar Galactica
Monday Night Football
Starsky & Hutch


  1. As a kid of the 70's, I loved TV shows and their theme songs. "Makin' It" is definitely one of my favorites from that period - loved it (and yes, I watched every episode of the short-lived sitcom).

    What, no love for "Different Worlds", the Maureen McGovern sung theme to "Angie" - which starred Robert Hayes and Donna Pescow?

    How about Neal Hefti's "Batman" theme?

    And, believe it or not, you left off Joey Scarbury and the "Theme from the Greatest American Hero". ;)

    I do enjoy how Fallout Boy recently used the riff from "the Munsters" theme in their song "Uma Thurman".

    1. While I did watch Angie when it was on, the theme song has been disqualified because of Taxi rule above.

      Love the Batman Theme (and Hefti's name!) and though I watched all the episodes in the Seventies after school, in my mind it is a Sixties TV Theme. Definitely on that list.

      Likewise, the Joey Scarbury goodness is most definitely an Eighties TV Theme. And speaking of those two, they are not even my favorite superhero show theme? That honor goes to the Sixties Spiderman theme: "Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a Spider can..." Of the lists I made, I threw that one on the Cartoon Themes list.

      The Munsters is on the Sixties list, too. Look for the other lists coming soon.

      Were these your favorites or just ones you thought I neglected? I know you are a HUGE TV fan.

    2. Just off the top of my head. Missed the part about 70's shows only. My bad.

  2. Using the list you meticulously put together, here's my top ten, in order:

    10. Good Times
    9. Hawaii Five-O
    8. Theme from SWAT
    7. Bandstand Boogie
    6. Welcome Back
    5. Makin' It
    4. WKRP
    3. The Love Boat
    2. Sanford and Son
    1. T.S.O.P.

    It's a shame that I didn't have room for Barney Miller with its epic bassline or Rockford Files with its screeching synth. Ask me again next week and my top ten might include those.

    The Streetbeater is my default ringtone and it never fails to make people smile, even if it interrupts a meeting. (Quite frankly, I've never attended a meeting that couldn't be improved with an interruption.)

    1. Barney Miller was first off my list, #16 as it were. I am strongly considering a sequel to this post as well as a few spin-offs (Sixties, Eighties, Cartoons).

      Since you were kind enough not to ask for it, here's the rounding out of my Top 20:
      #16 Barney Miller
      #17 Wonder Woman
      #18 American Bandstand
      #19 The Muppet Show
      #20 Laverne & Shirley

      You didn't have any favorites I callously ignored? Sharing is caring.

  3. Totally and completely forgot about MAD Magazine which I bought faithfully from 1977 until 1982.

    Also from 1976 until it ceased publication, I bought Street & Smith's annual NFL Football Preview.

  4. If it would please the court, Dirk would like to have his "Top 20 TV Themes Of The '70s" entered into the record...

    20) Three's Company – Ray Charles (Offenberg) & Julie Rinker
    19) The Six Million Dollar Man – Oliver Nelson
    18) Hawaii Five-O – Mort Stevens & His Orchestra
    17) Making Our Dreams Come True ("LaVerne & Shirley") – Cyndi Grecco
    16) Eight Is Enough – Grant Goodeve
    15) Wonder Woman – New World Symphony
    14) Maybe ("The Life And Times Of Grizzly Adams") – Thom Pace
    13) Chico And The Man РJos̩ Feliciano
    12) Superstar (Heavy Action) ("Monday Night Football") – Johnny Pearson
    11) Different Worlds ("Angie") – Maureen McGovern

    10) Makin' It – David Naughton
    09) Angela ("Taxi") – Bob James
    08) Gathering Crowds ("This Week In Baseball") – John Scott
    07) Vega$ – Dominic Frontiere
    06) Charlie's Angels – Jack Elliott & Allyn Ferguson
    05) CHiPs - Alan Silvestri
    04) The Rockford Files – Mike Post
    03) Welcome Back ("Welcome Back, Kotter") – John Sebastian
    02) The Love Boat – Jack Jones
    01) Theme From S.W.A.T. – Rhythm Heritage

    Based on the popularity this here '70s list, I have no doubt that your '80s list in already in the works... Bring it on!!

    1. Thanks for bringing the Monday Night Football Theme to the conversation. Love that one!

  5. On his latest flashback mix, Dr. Smooth gives us not one but two '70s TV themes. Tom Scott's theme from Starsky & Hutch and Chuck Mangione's theme from the Canadian TV show Side Street. That mix is available here: http://wp.me/p5uGg3-1Z

    1. Who could forget the Starsky & Hutch theme?

      This guy!

      Thanks for reminding me.