Post, one of the most successful composers in television history,
has written music for television since the 1970s. He has won five
Grammy awards for his theme songs and, by his own count, has scored
over 2,000 hours of film. Post has produced the signature melodies
for programs such as Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law and NYPD
Blue. His distinct themes often have intense, industrial rock
music cross-cut with smooth jazz sounds. These compositions are
noted for their unique blending of styles as well as for the dramatic
manner in which they complement a show's narrative.
is regarded as the youngest musician ever to be appointed as musical
director for a television program, assuming that role in 1969, at
age 24, on The Andy Williams Show. Prior to that appointment,
Post worked primarily as a session musician for a number of major
artists including Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Sonny and Cher--he
played guitar on "I Got You Babe" in 1965. He was also a successful
producer and arranger, winning a Grammy at age 22 for Best Instrumental
Arrangement on Mason Williams' "Classical Gas."
Post began his career in Los Angeles with the country-rock band
First Edition, featuring Kenny Rogers. In the late 1960s he joined
forces with Pete Carpenter, trombonist, arranger, and a veteran
of television theme scoring, and began to write music for television.
Post and Carpenter began working for producer Stephen J. Cannell
and first wrote the theme for Cannell's cop show Toma in 1973. The
Rockford Files theme, however, was their breakthrough assignment.
The whimsical synthesizer melodies seemed perfectly suited to the
ironic character of James Garner's Rockford. The score sealed their
reputations and won Post his first Grammy Award for Best Instrumental
Arrangement in 1975.
Street Blues brought more accolades and continued success. The
theme song, an elegant composition of simple, poignant piano music,
struck a chord with audiences and soared onto the pop charts. It
also impressed his peers and the critics and brought Post two more
Grammys in 1981--one for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and one
for Best Instrumental Composition.
Hill Street Blues also marked the beginning of a long-running,
creative collaboration with Steven Bochco. One of the most prolific
producers of successful dramatic series in the 1980s and 1990s,
Bochco hired Post to write the Hill Street Blues theme and
has worked closely with him ever since. The composer's career was
largely established by the music he composed for Bochco's police
or law-oriented dramas.
Post's work is wholly devoted to compelling a program's storyline
and contributing to its overall tone. The slick, polished opening
sounds of L.A. Law and the aggressive, chaotic drumbeats
punctuating the segments of NYPD Blue episodes are examples
of talent for melding images, emotions and sounds. He is also exceptionally
resourceful in orchestrating his award-winning melodies. To achieve
the unique sound of the NYPD Blue theme, for example, he
used, among other effects, 1,000 Japanese men jumping up and down
on a wooden floor, a cheese grater, and a subway horn. All these
ideas are largely inspired by the program's script, and Post's ability
to encompass a show's character in his music is what has landed
him atop the elite class of Hollywood composers. Only Pat Williams,
Henry Mancini and Dave Grusin have attained comparable levels of
success and respect in this field.
Ironically, his music has become so popular that the themes play
on pop radio, a medium wholly disconnected from the visual drama
he is committed to enhancing. One of his songs, "The Greatest American
Hero," is among the few TV themes ever to reach the number one spot
on the Pop Singles charts. Others, such as the themes for Hill
Street Blues and The Rockford Files, have reached the
Top 10. His popular and unique compositions are not Mike Post's
only enduring legacy to television, however. He can also be credited
with elevating television scoring to a fine art, and creating a
new dimension of drama with his "ear for the visual."
Photo courtesy of Mike Post
POST. Born in San Fernando, California, U.S.A., 1945. Married;
children: Jennifer and Aaron. Began career as member of Kenny Roger's
country-rock band First Edition; went on to play for Sammy Davis,
Jr., and Dean Martin; musical director, The Andy Williams Show,
1969; produced numerous television scores, including The Rockford
Files, Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Doogie Howser, and NYPD
Blue; arranged various Ray Charles LPs; record producer, Dolly
Parton's 9 to 5, among others. Recipient: five Grammy Awards.
on a Beach, 1971; Gidget Gets Married, 1972; Griff,
1973; Needles and Pins, 1973; Toma, 1973; Locusts,
1974; The Morning After, 1974; The Rockford Files,
1974, The Texas Wheelers, 1974; The Bob Crane Show,
1975; The Invasion of Johnson County, 1976; Richie Brockelman:
Missing 24 Hours, 1976; Scott Free, 1976; The Black
Sheep Squadron, 1977; Charlie Cobb: Nice Night for a Hanging,
1977; Off the Wall, 1977; Doctor Scorpion, 1978; Richie
Brockelman: Private Eye, 1978; The White Shadow, 1978;
Big Shamus, Little Shamus, 1979; Captain America,
1979; Captain America II, 1979; The Duke, 1979;
The 416th, 1979; The Night Rider, 1979; Operating
Room, 1979; 240-Robert, 1979; Tennspeed and Brownshoe,
1980; Scout's Honor, 1980; Hill Street Blues, 1980;
Coach of the Year, 1980; The Greatest American Hero,
1980; Palms Precinct, 1982; The Quest, 1982; Tales
of the Gold Monkey, 1982; Will, G. Gordon Liddy, 1982;
The A-Team, 1983; Bay City Blues, 1983; Big John,
1983; Hardcastle and McCormick, 1983; Riptide, 1983;
The Rousters, 1983; Running Brave, 1983; Four Eyes,
1984; Hadley's Rebellion, 1984; Hard Knox, 1984; No
Man's Land, 1984; The Return of Luter Gillie, 1984; The
River Rat, 1984; Welcome to Paradise, 1984; Heart
of a Champion, 1985; Stingray, 1985; Adam: His Song
Continues, 1986; L.A. Law, 1986; The Last Precinct,
1986; Destination America, 1987; Hooperman, 1987;
Sirens, 1987; Wiseguy, 1987; Murphy's Law,
1988; Sonny Spoon, 1988; The Ryan White Story, 1989;
B.L. Stryker: The Dancer's Touch, 1989; Unspeakable Acts,
1990; Without Her Consent, 1990; NYPD Blue, 1993.
Borzillo, Carrie. "TV Composer Mike Post Takes BMI Award (Lifetime
Achievement)." Billboard (New York), 28 May 1994.
Steve. Film and Television Composers: An International Discography,
North Carolina: McFarland, 1992.
David C., editor. Best of the 80's: TV Songbook: A Prime Time
Anthology. Miami, Florida: CPP/Belwin, 1988.
Steven D. A Comprehensive Bibliography of Music for Film and
Television. Detroit, Michigan: Information Coordinators, 1985.