Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I read with interest awhile back that the first TV theme song to hit No. 1 on the pop hits parade is “Theme from S.W.A.T.,” by Rhythm Heritage.

What I would now like to know is what is the first TV theme to become a big hit recording, such as making the Top 10?

Can you provide this information?
—Denny Columbus, York, Pa.

DEAR DENNY: Probably, but let's back up just a smidge.

While it is true that “Theme from S.W.A.T.” is a former No. 1 hit (1976), it is certainly not the first TV theme to top the charts.

You do not indicate where you read that, but we don't want folks to get the impression it came from one of our past columns.

About 21 years before anyone ever heard the S.W.A.T. theme, Bill Hayes and “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” from the Disney mini-series, held the top chart position (March 1955).

Just two months later, Les Baxter had a double-sided No. 1 hit, “Unchained Melody” backed with “Medic,” the latter being the “Blue Star” instrumental theme from television's first doctor show.

“Medic,” the first starring role for Richard Boone, propelled him much greater fame as the duel-persona Paladin in “Have Gun, Will Travel.”

Backing up two years, to September 1953, Ray Anthony and His Orchestra peaked at No. 2 with the theme from the most famous and successful cop show ever, “Dragnet.”

I cannot find a Top 10 TV theme that predates “Dragnet,” which I feel can rightfully lay claim to having the most instantly recognizable opening, non-vocal, three or four notes in music history.

Coincidentally, a reincarnation of “Dragnet” is on the current ABC-TV prime time schedule. Though the basic '50s theme is being used 50 years later, it is given a very fiery '03 treatment, which I definitely like.

Left unscathed is that unmistakable dum, da dum dum!

It must also be pointed out that we received a nearly identical question from Mary Huff, of Marion, Iowa.

DEAR JERRY: I am an avid fan of Marvin Gaye, and I thought I owned every song either written or sung by him.

But then I heard a song by Marvin in the film “Baby Boy,” that I didn't even know about. I could not determine the title, though it could be something like “It's Too Late for You.”

Can you identify this song, and possibly tell me where to find it, that is if it's available at all.
—P.B., Milwaukee

DEAR P.B.: I took a peek at the “Baby Boy” soundtrack CD and see, among its 18 tracks, just one by Marvin Gaye: “Just to Keep You Satisfied.”

What makes me doubt this is the song you ask about is that it is a track from his 1973 LP, “Let's Get It On.” Since you have a near-complete collection, you surely have this track and would not be asking if it were the one in the film.

Among the other tracks — some of which have distasteful titles that you won't find printed in any newspaper — none seem to tie in with the “It's Too Late for You” theme.

DEAR JERRY: What is the difference in value between the cover for an album and the record itself?
—Iris Moran, Paducah, Ky.

DEAR IRIS: Disregarding exceptions, where the value lies in something unique about either the cover or the disc, it is about 50-50 — in theory anyway.

In reality, it is very difficult to sell one without the other. Most folks shopping for an LP will just hold out until they find the complete package. The sum of the individual parts just does not equal the total.

IZ ZAT SO? Two of the world's most valuable albums — about $25,000 each — are in demand simply because of either the cover or the disc. In each example, the other part of the package is common and has a generally modest value. “The Beatles … Yesterday and Today” is very pricy if with the original Butcher Cover, though the disc holds no special value.

“The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan” is a high ticket item if the disc contains certain tracks, but the cover is not at all unique.

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