The film spawned a popular TV series starring Howard Rollins as Tibbs and Carroll O'Connor as Chief Gillespie. It ran from 1988 to 1995, with Bill Champlin
of the band Chicago singing the title theme. "That was my first big blues record, and it was a TV theme!" Champlin explained in a 2011 interview with Something Else
. "They gave me 150 bucks for an audition, and in a way it's one of my biggest hits. But I have an eclectic following, so it's better to mix it up. If I were to do nothing but blues, I might lose them, and I could have a hard time finding a new audience who's just interested in blues music."
But if one of the series' stars had his way, Champlin might have been replaced. "During the fifth year of the show, Carroll O'Connor called the producer and said: 'I want to get rid of the black guy singing the theme. I'm really good friends with Robert Goulet,'" Champlin (who is white) laughed. "Me or Robert Goulet? That's the story of my life."