Ever wonder where Tilted Axes creator Patrick Grant finds inspiration for those infectious riffs? We’ll find out on this edition of BACKTRACKS, when a 4 year old future composer discovers his musical destiny on TV.
Listen to Patrick’s story here:
Now that I’m a professional composer and performer, there’s supposed to be this stark moment of epiphany. I was always jealous of my schoolmates, who, by the time they were 9 knew all four symphonies of Brahms and other works by Beethoven and such, and they were exposed to that. So I didn’t get a lot of that, but I got a lot of other stuff. After years of thinking, oh, I wish I had more of a classical education, it came back to me that, no, I really grew up listening to a lot of cool music. And it really goes back to this theme. Once I stopped fighting the feeling that I should be embarrassed by this, things really started to kick in the last 5 years, things really started to flow. This really is the most formidable piece of music that I can recall in my formative years.
Composed by American jazz trumpeter, composer and arranger Neal Hefti, the Batman television theme featured “bass guitar, low brass and percussion to create a driving rhythm, while an eight-voice chorus sings ‘Batman!’ in harmony with the trumpets”, according to Jon Burlingame, author of TV’s Biggest Hits. Hefti began his professional career writing charts for Nat Towles, went on to play trumpet for Woody Herman and then a composer/arranger for Count Basie. He led his own bands as well, but chose to focus on scoring and conducting in the mid-fifties, where he found great success writing music for films such as Sex and the Single Girl, How to Murder Your Wife, Lord Love a Duck and Barefoot in the Park, among others. Besides creating the theme for the Batman series, he scored the film and television versions of The Odd Couple.
It’s no secret that Hefti’s classic television theme spawned a host of imitators and Caped Crusader-themed groups and albums during its heyday, such as “Batman and Robin – The Sensational Guitars of Dan & Dale”, and The Dynamic Batmen. Along with the Bat lunchboxes and posters and toy cars, it seems the theme music was licensed out just as freely to musicians looking to cash in on the Bat-craze. And with all due respect to the masterful Dark Knight scores of Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer, it’s really the old TV tune that’s been re-recorded and re-interpreted over and over to this day. Here are some of our favorite renditions to close out this installment of BACKTRACKS.