The Greg Brady Project

Welcome to the official Barry Williams' blog

My friends call me Barry. From time to time I also hear the name Greg. Yeah, as in Greg Brady. The Brady Bunch represents a fun time in my life. But it’s only part of the story. There’s more to say and that’s what The Greg Brady Project is all about – a place to say it. So, I’ve invited some friends to join me and share their perspectives on the Brady’s, the 70′s and just about everything else. Now, I’m inviting you…

29 May
Bob Hunt

Music Men

written by Bob Hunt in Blog | 1 comment

Earle Hagen (left) and Frank DeVol 

Some time ago I stumbled upon a cheap DVD that featured a pair of Andy Griffith Show episodes.  Upon giving it a spin, I soon discovered why the disc was destined for the clearance bin.  In an apparent attempt to avoid a potentially thorny copyright dispute, the fly-by-night distributor had actually replaced the theme music.  Andy and Opie still carried their poles as they walked along the fishin’ hole, but instead of being accompanied by the familiar and beloved whistling theme song, they sauntered to a goofy overdub of some generic tune that wasn’t worthy of a PowerPoint presentation.  As the episode began, I was too distracted by this outrage to even process what Barney was telling Andy.  Somehow, without a proper introduction to Mayberry, it just wasn’t the same.

Such is the power of a well-written TV theme, and such was the talent of Earle Hagen, who died on Monday night at the age of 88.  Hagen was the prolific film and TV composer whose quest for a simple Andy Griffith Show intro (“something you could whistle”) inspired one of the most memorable tunes in all of pop culture.  He was also responsible for the brash, big-band theme from The Dick Van Dyke Show, and if you’re not thinking about Rob Petrie and his ottoman right now, you’re probably not familiar with that one.  In addition, he scored and wrote themes for many other classic TV shows, including I Spy, That Girl, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., Make Room For Daddy, and The Mod Squad.

Hagen’s death represents the loss of another great musical talent from the ranks of classic TV composers, a generation that included Frank DeVol, who died in 1999.  DeVol contributed his share of iconic tunes and is best remembered today for his theme songs for The Brady Bunch and My Three Sons.  But setting the stage in the opening credits was merely the most noticeable effort of TV’s music men.  Both Hagen and DeVol scored hundreds of shows as well.

Their incidental work is even more memorable than many of us realize.  Picture Marcia Brady returning home from a visit with the groovy Dr. Stanley Vogel in a giddy state of dreamy euphoria.  Is not your mental image accompanied by DeVol’s gentle, cascading love theme?  Envision Barney Fife, jaw set in rigid determination, in pursuit of justice.  Can you not hear the martial strains of Hagen’s mock-serious “Manhunt” motif?  Or better yet, imagine any episode of The Brady Bunch or The Andy Griffith Show stripped of its theme and background music.  Though the same great performances, writing and production remain, there’s no denying the subtle magic of TV’s best composers.  Without us even noticing, their contributions were half of the show.

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1 Comment

    [...] Hunt recently blogged about the passing of “Andy Griffith Show” composer Earle Hagen. A few days later it [...]

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