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

Incongruent Opening ActsSong Writing

Here's what happens when an opening act is really out of place with the headliner, like when Beastie Boys opened for Madonna.

Julian LennonSongwriter Interviews

Julian tells the stories behind his hits "Valotte" and "Too Late for Goodbyes," and fills us in on his many non-musical pursuits. Also: what MTV meant to his career.

Who Did It First?Music Quiz

Do you know who recorded the original versions of these ten hit songs?

Narada Michael Walden - "Freeway of Love"They're Playing My Song

As a songwriter and producer, Narada had hits with Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Starship. But what song does he feel had the greatest impact on his career?

Spooner OldhamSongwriter Interviews

His keyboard work helped define the Muscle Shoals sound and make him an integral part of many Neil Young recordings. Spooner is also an accomplished songwriter, whose hits include "I'm Your Puppet" and "Cry Like A Baby."

Trans Soul Rebels: Songs About TransgenderismSong Writing

A history of songs dealing with transgender issues, featuring Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Morrissey and Green Day.