The Funkiest TV Theme Songs of the 70s


If you were a white kid in the 1970s, chances are that your earliest exposure to funk music came from TV theme songs and children's educational programming.  As I WAS one of those white kids, who now has an abiding love for funk & soul (not to mention children's educational programming), I'd like to share this tribute to these evocative themes from the days when theme songs were theme songs, and the city streets were for hustlas.

The Rockford Files
 by Mike Post & Pete Carpenter

Soul Train '76 from Soul Train (1976-1978)
by The Soul Train Gang

The White Shadow
by Mike Post

Good Times
by Dave Grusin and Alan & Marilyn Bergman

Barney Miller
by Jack Elliot & Allyn Ferguson

One of the fattest bass lines EVER, courtesy of Chuck Berghofer

Movin' On Up from The Jeffersons
by Jeff Barry & Ja'net Dubois

The Sound Of Philadelphia from Soul Train (1973-75)
by Gamble & Huff

Soul Train actually had several theme songs over the years, which probably shouldn't come as a surprise given the nature of the show.  This one, however, outfunks them all.

Shaft (TV series)
by Isaac Hayes; arranged by Johnny Pate

I'm sure someone could make the argument that the Shaft theme was largely responsible for kicking off the funky cop theme trend.  I'm not going to, but I bet someone could.  I had completely forgotten that there was a TV series, but hearing Pate's abbreviated version of Hayes' Oscar winning theme really strips it down to the elements that would so inspire your Mike Posts and and Dave Grusins.

Streets of San Francisco
by Pat Williams

The version from the show, with its wakka-wakka guitar line, plays much funkier than the single, which comes off jazzier, but features some madman drumming.  Take your pick, you can't go wrong.  Just keep your trout out of the milk.

by Grusin & Ames; Performed by El Chicano

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
by Bill Cosby

by Barry DeVorzon; performed by Rhythm Heritage

The Streetbeater from Sanford & Son
by Quincy Jones

Sesame Street - Funky Chimes ClosingOriginal theme by Joe Raposo

Didn't see that coming, did you?  This version of the Sesame Street theme played behind the sponsorship and grant announcements at the end of the show in the later 70s and into the 80s, and it's a stone groove.

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