Batman Theme

Album: Batman Theme and 11 Other Bat Songs (1966)
Charted: 17
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  • When we think of Batman music, it might bring to mind Danny Elfman's crashing, booming theme for the original Michael Keaton film series (started in 1989), or perhaps Prince (aka the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince) and his "Batdance." But this is the original TV series Batman theme - the show starring Adam West and Burt Ward as the titular Batman and his sidekick Robin. So far, it's still the only live-action regular series to make it onto television, though the animated versions are numerous.

    The main part of the song itself, usually presented in instrumental form, is a simple 12-bar blues series repeated in a cycle, using only three chords, with very minor changes in key from time to time. If you haven't found the version with the lyrics, you're not missing much; it's simply the word "Batman!" sung over and over, almost like a chant.

    The vocals to the broadcast version of the theme blended so well with the instruments that Adam West actually stated in his book Back to the Batcave that it was an illusion created with instruments. Hefti himself corrects this in an interview for the book TV's Biggest Hits: it's an eight-voice chorus along with bass guitar, percussion, and brass.
  • Modern fanatic Dark Knight fans won't like this, but it's the truth, so we'll say it anyway: If we watch the modern films and media, it's quite a jolt to compare the franchise to its roots. The original Batman TV series was done as intentionally campy, goofy fun. Amongst other influences, it was inspired by the (sadly forgotten) TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and 1940s serial-film series. In fact, the Playboy Club in Chicago was screening the 1940s' serials when ABC-network executive Yale Udoff saw the audience swept away in the spirit - cheering the good guys and booing/hissing the bad guys - and that gave him the idea that the TV series should be approached in the same way. It was also rooted deeply in late-1950s' and early-1960s' culture, so there's a lot of pop-art, post-modernist attitudes mixed in, and this is reflected in Hefti's theme. Also, the series had a lot of parody humor in it; Gotham had a "Short Island" and "Phony Island" to match New York's Long Island and Coney Island, and the military headquarters of the US becomes the "Hexagon." What we're saying is, this theme matches the original Batman when Batman was fun, instead of the modern Batman which is dense, brooding, Nietzschean, grim, sadomasochistic, and takes itself a thousand times more seriously than the Pope at Mass. Modern generations also won't believe us when we tell them that most of the plays that Shakespeare wrote were originally considered comedies, either. As the Heath Ledger fans prepare to leave horse heads in our bed, we will merely remind everyone that a sense of humor is a sign of intelligence, and leave off without further comment.
  • Neal Hefti was a trumpeter/conductor who wrote and recorded the theme for the show. The theme was later covered by The Marketts, who scored a hit in 1963 with their take on the Twilight Zone theme song. Their version of the Batman theme hit #17 in the US. Other artists to record the theme include The Ventures and The Standells.
  • Check out "Taxman" by The Beatles. George Harrison based the music for that song on the Batman theme. He was a big fan of the show.
  • Several songs jumped on the Batman bandwagon in 1966. These were all minor hits that year:

    "Batman" - Jan & Dean
    "Batman & His Grandmother" - Dickie Goodman
    "Batman And Robin" - The Spotlights
    "Batman To The Rescue" - LaVern Baker

Comments: 6

  • Ken from PhiladelphiaThe Kinks and The Who both used to cover the Batman theme in concert in the mid 1960s. I am pretty sure the Kinks version made it to vinyl on a live album. I am not sure about the Who’s version. The punk band, the Jam, also covered it in the mid-70s. Given the Jam’s documented love for the Kinks (at various times, they covered “David Watts”, “Dead End Street”, and “Waterloo Sunset”), I always assumed it was a tribute to the Kinks having covered it a decade earlier.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer:
    Adam West, the actor best known for his performance as television's Batman in the 1960s, died Friday, June 9th, 2017, in Los Angeles, after a short battle with leukemia, according to multiple news sources. He was 88.
    West, a rising star prior to landing the starring role of Batman, saw his life defined forevermore by those three campy years on television. Rather than fight the typecasting that often marked the latter 45 years of his career, however, West ultimately came to embrace it. In doing so, he became a beloved pop culture icon and helped usher in an age in which once-fringe "geek" pastimes have become mainstream.
    Born William West Anderson on Sept. 19, 1928, to farmer parents in Walla Walla, Washington, West knew from an early age that he wanted to perform for a living. Performance ran in his blood: His mother, Audrey Speer, had been a concert pianist and opera singer, but set aside her dreams of stardom to care for her family.
    On Jan. 12, 1966, his life would take a left turn with the debut of the "Batman" television series. Campy, full of puns and humor, and featuring big Technicolor action, the show was a tremendous hit and was among the most widely watched programs of the era. Some culture critics have gone as far as to suggest that '60s pop culture was defined by the three B's: the Beatles, James Bond, and Batman. The show aired twice a week to big ratings, spawning catchphrases still used today ("Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel," "Holy BLANK, Batman!"), a movie spinoff, and loads of merchandise. Almost overnight, West was one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood.
    May he and Mr. Hefti {1922 - 2008} R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer:
    George Barris, who created television's original Batmobile, along with custom vehicles for "The Munsters" and "The Beverly Hillbillies," has died, according to The Associated Press. He was 89...
    Barris Kustom Industries spokesman Edward Lozzi says Barris died Thursday, following a lengthy illness...
    Barris was still in high school in Northern California when he designed his first fully customized car, a 1936 Ford...
    After Barris formed the hobby club Kustoms of America, his work got noticed by Hollywood, with producers commissioning him a car for the movie "High School Confidential" in 1958...
    In the early '60s, Barris opened the shop in North Hollywood out of which he worked until his death...
    Over the next 70 years he would design literally hundreds of cars for television shows, movies, celebrities, heads of state and just regular folks...
    But he's arguably known best for creating the Batmobile from the 1960s "Batman" series, a car he adapted from a Futura concept acquired from the Ford Motor Co...
    "If you'll remember that pow, bang, wow is going out, throughout his whole script, that gives you an idea of what I had to contend with," Barris said on NPR in 2010. "I said, 'Well, if you're going to make these exciting sounds and all this thing that comes up, I'm going to do the same thing to the car"...
    The Batmobile fetched $4.62 million at auction in 2013...
  • Babbling Babette from Tulsa OkBatman, Batman, Batman!!! By the time the song ended, you'd gone thru too many "Batmans" in the lyrics it would drive you insane. But it was fun. Me & my little brother loved to watch the Batman TV show & loved those fight scenes with all the colorful words on the screen like "Socko" POW! "Bam," "Whammo!" and "Kapowweee." Batman back in the Sixties didn't need no stinking abs either! There were several singles out on this song from different artists and bands, but the Neil Hefty song is the best. I loved it when they played the version on the TV series. Then, my little brother "The Clam Man" began going around all day singing "Batman, Batman, Batman" over and over and over and over!!!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 12th 1966, the "Batman" series debut on the ABC-TV network...
    The show ran from 1966 to 1968 with a grand total of 120 episodes...
    On February 6th, 1966 Neal Hefti's "Batman Theme" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on March 6th it peaked at #35 (for 2 weeks) and spent 8 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on the very same day that Mr. Hefti's version peaked at #35, the Marketts' covered version was peaking at #17 (also for 2 weeks)...
    Plus on the same day that Mr. Hefti' version entered the Top 100 (Feb. 6th), Jan & Dean also entered the chart with song titled "Batman" (their version reached #66 and stayed on the Top 100 for 5 weeks)...
    Another 'Batman' themed record also charted in 1966; "Batman and His Grandmother" by Dickie Goodman entered the Top 100 on May 22nd, 1966 for a three week stay, reaching position #70...
    R.I.P. Neal Hefti (1922 - 2008), Dickie Goodman (1934 - 1989), and William 'Jan' Berry (1941 - 2004)...
  • Zabadak from London, EnglandAlso covered by Link Wray...

    Q. How does Batman's mother get him to come and eat?
    A. "Come and get your dinner dinner dinner dinner Batmaaaaaaaaaaaaan!
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