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Sunday, June 1

Earle Hagen - "The Man Behind The Theme"

Hagen, who was 88 when he died Monday in California, wrote the themes to many 1960s TV shows, each expressing the essence of the show and its setting in less than a minute (The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mod Squad, I Spy, That Girl, Gomer Pyle)

Earle Hagen is gone but his whistle lives on....
he wrote "The Fishin' Hole," the theme song of the "Andy Griffith Show."
He also whistled it for the recording, and with the possible exception of "Bridge Over the River Kwai," it is probably the most-whistled song of modern-day America.

andy griffith show

Dick Van Dyke Show

(cute story about the ottoman scenes)

Hagen also wrote the jazz classic "Harlem Nocturne":
Hagen wrote "Harlem Nocturne" for a radio series as a conscious imitation of the Duke Ellington sound. Randy Brooks, a white big band leader, picked it up as his theme song in 1941. About ten years later, saxophonist Herbie Fields, released it as a single, soon after, virtually every sax player in the R & B business had his own version of it out.
Sax-heavy honky-tonk R & B was beginning to fade at the time, but the smooth, sultry sound of "Harlem Nocturne" made it a good transition into the more sophisticated jump bands. Johnny Otis, a white vibe player who considered himself "black in soul" covered it for one of his early hits on Savoy. (Otis was later to keep the spirit of R & B going for many years with his various bands and LA radio shows).

Finally, in 1959, a New Jersey band, the Viscounts, had a minor hit with it, introducing an eerie guitar effect that's been retained in most of the subsequent covers:

Visit WFMU's Beware of the Blog for 42 Versions of Harlem Nocturne

Earle Hagen 7/9/19 - 5/26/08 - LA Times Obituary

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