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This was written by Pete Carpenter and Mike Post as the theme for The Rockford Files, which was an NBC show about a private investigator played by James Garner. Stephen J. Cannell created the show; he was good friends with Post and wanted an unusual instrumental theme that would get the viewers' attention. Post and Carpenter came up with the song using a blues harmonica, dobro and electric guitar, along with what Post describes as "a chamber group on steroids" - two flutes, two French horns, two trombones. For a lead instrument, they used a Minimoog synthesizer, which was new at the time, making this one of the first uses of the instrument in a hit song.
Carpenter and Post set out to make a 2-minute hit record, and it worked, with the full-length version going to #10 in the US. Post had previously worked on some hit songs, producing "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
" and "Classical Gas
," so he was in the mindset of creating a hit, not just a TV theme. The full version was released with him listed as the artist, as Pete Carpenter wanted no part of the billing because he thought he was way too old to represent the song in public - he was 60 years old at the time. Post scored another hit with his Theme From Hill Street Blues
and another with Magnum P.I.
The Rockford Files went on the air in 1974 and lasted six seasons. The full-length song was released as a single after the first season.
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