Theme From S.W.A.T.

Album: Disco-Fied (1975)
Charted: 1

Songfacts®:

  • S.W.A.T. was an American TV show that lasted two seasons: 1975-1976. It had a delightfully funky theme song written and arranged by Barry Devorzan, but unlike Theme from The Rockford Files, that theme wasn't converted into a full-length single until Rhythm Heritage recorded it.

    Rhythm Heritage was a studio act assembled by the producers Steve Barri and Michael Omatian, who put some of their favorite session musicians in the group: drummer Ed Greene, bass player Scott Edwards, and guitarists Dean Parks, Ray Parker Jr. and Ben Benay. Their first album was disco-fied, where they recorded full disco versions of the themes from both S.W.A.T. and Baretta. The themes used in the TV shows were recorded by completely different studio musicians.

    The new S.W.A.T. theme gave the group a surprise #1 hit.
  • When this song took off, Rhythm Heritage had to become more than just a studio band - they had to hit the road to satisfy demand for live performances. Unfortunately for the musicians, a different set of players were chosen to perform the songs on tour. Scott Edwards, who was the bass player on this track, said in his Songfacts interview: "Rhythm Heritage was nothing but a studio band that did some tricks. After the songs went big, Michael and Steve came to us and said, 'We're going to form a band,' and we would all become a real band, go on the road, tour and do the whole bit. We were feeling like it would be pretty good, be exciting.

    But somehow they decided not to take us on the road. Instead, they got some other musicians and took them on the road, and they played it out. I don't know if they couldn't play as good or what happened, but it didn't last more than a couple of months.

    But originally Rhythm Heritage was supposed to be a studio band that ended up becoming a real band and going on the road, but it never happened. But it did some good songs and it's still out there. It was a disappointment when we didn't become a real official band and tour."
  • This was the first TV theme song to reach #1 on the Hot 100.
  • Rhythm Heritage lasted two more albums: Last Night on Earth in 1977 and Sky's the Limit in 1978. Their other chart entries were "Baretta's Theme ('Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow')" (#20, 1976), "Disco-Fied" (#101, 1976) and "Gonna Fly Now (Theme From Rocky)" (#94, 1977).

Comments: 4

  • Chris from Charlotte N.c.On the TV show the theme song was performed by Barry DeVorzan and his Orchestra. His version was also released as a full song, but didn't chart like Rhythm Heritage's cover version did.
  • AnonymousMy grade school music teacher came up with a brilliant way to get us to behave in her class. She played piano and let it be known that, if the entire class behaved for the entire class period, she would spend the last few minutes playing the theme from SWAT on the piano. You’ve never seen a better behaved bunch of 4th-graders.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 17th 1975, the detective series 'Baretta' premiered on the ABC-TV network...
    The series ran for four years with a total of 82 episodes...
    Robert Blake won a Golden Globe Award in 1976 in the 'Best TV Actor - Drama'* category...
    One year and three months later on April 4th, 1976 Rhythm Heritage’s "Baretta's Theme (Keep Your Eye On the Sparrow)" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #76; nine weeks later on June 6th it would peak at #20 {for 2 weeks} and it stayed on the chart for 13 weeks...
    Besides "Theme from S.W.A.T.", the group had one other Top 100 record, a covered version of "Theme from Rocky (Gonna Fly Now)", it reached #94 in 1977 and spent 3 weeks on the Top 100...
    * Actually it was in a tie with Telly Savalas for 'Kojak'.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 19th 1976, Rhythm Heritage performed "Theme from S.W.A.T." on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Seven months earlier on November 9th, 1975 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #90; and on February 22nd, 1976 it peaked at #1 (for 1 week) and spent almost a half-year on the Top 100 (24 weeks, and for 6 of those 24 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    In Canada it was covered by the THP Orchestra (Three Hats Productions Orchestra) and on March 20th their version reached #1 (for 1 week) on the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart...
    On the same 'Bandstand' show the band also performed "Baretta's Theme"; at the time it was at position #20 on the Top 100, which would be its peak position on the chart.
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