"Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can," boasts the jazzy opener from the Spider-Man animated series, which ran from 1967 to 1970. Written by lyricist Paul Francis Webster and composer Bob Harris, the tune became a memorable slice of pop culture and drew covers from the Ramones, Aerosmith, and Michael Buble. Film composer Michael Giacchino teased his modern spin on the classic Spidey song just prior to the release of the 2017 movie Spider-Man: Homecoming.
This was recorded at RCA Studios in Toronto and features vocals from 12 members of the Billy Van Singers and Laurie Bower Singers groups.
The melody sounds pretty close to Charles Mingus' 1959 song "Boogie Stop Shuffle
," fueling the rumor that the jazz great played the bassline for the cartoon theme. But the show's director Ralph Bakshi has no recollection of Mingus hanging around the studio. "If he was there, I would've known," he insisted in a 2014 interview.
Paul Francis Webster was a dance instructor-turned-lyricist who hit his stride in the 1950s writing hit movie themes for MGM. He garnered 16 Academy Award nominations and won three for Best Original Song: "Secret Love" from the Doris Day film Calamity Jane, "Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing" from the William Holden film of the same name, and "The Shadow Of Your Smile" from the Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor film The Sandpiper. He also co-wrote the hits "I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good)," "Black Coffee" and "Tender Is The Night."
Before composing "Spider-Man," Bob Harris wrote the theme to Stanley Kubrick's 1962 film Lolita.
Aerosmith's version featured on the soundtrack to Sam Raimi's Spider-Man (2002), starring Tobey Maguire. Joe Perry, the band's lead guitarist, also played on the theme for the 1994 Spider-Man cartoon.
Michael Buble first recorded this for his independent debut, BaBalu, in 2001. It was released as a single in 2004 to promote Spider-Man 2 and was used during the film's closing credits.