Sanford and Son Theme (The Streetbeater)

Album: You've Got it Bad, Girl (1973)

Songfacts®:

  • This is the theme song for the Red Foxx starring 1970s sitcom Sanford and Son. Quincy Jones penned the tune and the multi-Grammy winning producer recalled in a 2010 interview with Billboard magazine how he became involved with writing this show's music and his concerns about the casting of Foxx, who had a reputation as an extremely explicit comedian at that point in time. Said Jones: "Bud Yorkin came over my house around 1970 and he said we just bought the rights of a show from England called Steptoe and Son. Sanford and Son was taken from the English TV show. He said, 'I'd like you to write the theme for it.' I said, 'who's in it?' And he said Redd Foxx. I said, 'man, you can't put Redd Foxx on national TV [laughs]. I had worked with Redd Foxx 30 years before that at the Apollo. We used to do the Chitlin Circuit. I used to write this music for him to come out with. Yorkin said, 'No, it's gonna be a great great show. And it was. Foxx took his sense of humor and took it all the way to the top. I wrote that song in about 20 minutes too. We had four musicians, Recorded it in about 20 minutes. It's amazing. Looking back, it's a trip."
  • Although the song itself failed to chart, it has maintained mainstream popularity and is featured on Jones' greatest hits album. The tune has also regularly been referred to in popular culture. For instance, in the Simpsons episode, Trash of the Titans, the song appears in the scene where Ray Patterson is reinstated. This is a reference to a moment that occurred during a poorly attended Redd Foxx Vegas stand up show when he refused to perform to such a small audience. The tune is also JD and Turks favorite song in the sitcom Scrubs, and is most famously seen when Turk is first going out with Carla.
  • Jones did an updated version of this tune for his 2010 album Q Soul Bossa Nova with the assistance of rappers T.I., B.o.B, Prince Charlez and Swedish-Congolese dance-pop/reggaeton singer-songwriter Mohombi. Lady Gaga collaborator RedOne produced this new interpretation.
  • Quincy Jones shares a connection with Charles Fox, who wrote the music for some of the most successful TV themes of all time, including Love Boat and Happy Days: they both studied composition in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. As Fox told us, Jones would bring Boulanger beautiful flowers whenever he returned for a lesson, so Fox made sure to bring flowers to the renown instructor as well any time he was in Paris. (Check out our full interview with Charles Fox.)
  • On Friends, Chandler mimics the tune when he discovers Monica's hidden messy closet in the 2002 episode "The One With The Secret Closet."

    It's also featured in these TV series:

    30 Rock ("Aunt Phatso vs. Jack Donaghy" – 2012)
    Scrubs ("My Deja Vu, My Deja Vu" – 2006, "My Life in Four Cameras" – 2005, "My Fifteen Minutes" - 2001)
    Futurama ("A Fishful Of Dollars" – 1999)
    The Simpsons ("Trash Of The Titans" – 1998)
    King Of The Hill ("Pregnant Paws" - 1998)

    And in these movies:

    X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014)
    August: Osage County (2013)
    Hancock (2008)

Comments: 1

  • Camille from Toronto, OhMemorable instrumental tune; always brings back memories of a simpler time in life.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Songs About Movies

Songs About MoviesSong Writing

Iron Maiden, Adele, Toto, Eminem and Earth, Wind & Fire are just some of the artists with songs directly inspired by movies - and not always good ones.

Neal Smith - "I'm Eighteen"

Neal Smith - "I'm Eighteen"They're Playing My Song

With the band in danger of being dropped from their label, Alice Cooper drummer Neal Smith co-wrote the song that started their trek from horror show curiosity to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Dino Cazares of Fear Factory

Dino Cazares of Fear FactorySongwriter Interviews

The guitarist/songwriter explains how he came up with his signature sound, and deconstructs some classic Fear Factory songs.

Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket

Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet SprocketSongwriter Interviews

The "All I Want" singer went through a long depression, playing some shows when he didn't want to be alive.

Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk: Rock vs. Televangelists

Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk: Rock vs. TelevangelistsSong Writing

When televangelists like Jimmy Swaggart took on rockers like Ozzy Osbourne and Metallica, the rockers retaliated. Bono could even be seen mocking the preachers.

Zakk Wylde

Zakk WyldeSongwriter Interviews

When he was playing Ozzfest with Black Label Society, a kid told Zakk he was the best Ozzy guitarist - Zakk had to correct him.