Have you ever found yourself humming along to the catchy tune of the beloved sitcom Barney Miller? We bet you have! While at it, you probably wondered who the talented musicians behind the scenes were. Each musician brought a unique touch to the mix, but most people don’t know who they are. In this article, we’ll cover all you need to know about Barney Miller theme song musicians, including their impact on the music industry as a whole.
Let’s get into it.
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What Is Barney Miller’s Theme Song?
If you’re a fan of the 70s television sitcom, then you must remember its catchy theme song. The Barney Miller sitcom revolves around the life of Capt. Barney Miller and other offers of the New York City Police Department on East 6th St in Greenwich Village.
For Barney Miller fans, the theme song is instantly recognizable and an iconic musical piece that quickly became synonymous with the beloved T.V. show in fans’ minds. This theme song was composed by Allyn Ferguson and Jack Elliot and captivated fans with its jazzy, upbeat tempo. This theme song effortlessly captures the humorous and lighthearted spirit that follows each show episode.
From the first notes, listeners are transported to the bustling New York City police precinct and can embark on a memorable journey with their favorite characters in the sitcom. The Barney Miller theme song also possesses a timeless appeal which is why it can resonate with audiences of all ages. Despite decades after the show’s original airing, the theme song continues to captivate new audiences and draw them into the comedic and intriguing world of Barney Miller.
All Musicians Behind the Barney Miller Theme Song
In this section, we’ll explore the talents that came together to bring this iconic melody to life. From the composers to the bassist, guitarist, trumpeter, and many more, we’ll explore the exciting musical careers of the talented artists who brought this iconic theme song to life.
Jack Elliot – Co-Composer
The Barney Miller theme song wouldn’t exist without Jack Elliot on the team. As one of the composers, he’s right at the beginning of it all. Jack Elliot is a versatile and talented musical composer, producer, and arranger. He was quite popular in the music industry, and many agreed he was a multi-talented musician who never failed to amaze and surprise people around him.
Elliot’s musical journey started after he graduated from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music. He continued his pursuit of music in his postgraduate studies in composition, where he studied with Lukas Foss, Arnold Franchetti, and many more musical geniuses. However, Judy Garland took Elliot to California to become an arranger for her television show.
Due to his amazing talent, it wasn’t long before Jack Elliot went from being a new composer to a veteran behind some of the top hits in the music industry. Elliot’s name was in every industry sector, from live performances to television to film and even recorded music. Elliot is also the co-founder and music director of the American Jazz Philharmonic; he is also the creator of the Henry Mancini Institute.
With a diverse repertoire, Elliot is known for his Emmy awards, Kennedy Center Honors, and he once was the music director for the Academy Awards. He also holds the record of being the musical director of the Grammy Awards for 30 consecutive years. Elliot also has an accomplished career in film as he has scored many popular movies like The Jerk, Sibling Rivalry, Where’s Poppa, The Blade Runner, and much more. He also co-wrote the themes for television shows like our beloved Barney Miller and Charlie’s Angel. Elliot continued to create masterful music till his untimely passing in August 2001.
Allyn Ferguson – Co-Composer and Pianist
Allyn Ferguson played the electric piano and co-composed the Barney Miller theme song. Anyone who worked as a studio musician for any length of time in Hollywood from the 60s to the 80s will surely come across the name Allyn Ferguson. Ferguson started playing the trumpet when he was four and added piano lessons to the mix at six. His mom supported him daily and ensured he practiced because he wanted to play baseball instead.
By 11 years old, Ferguson was already giving concerts and was really good at playing the piano. He was praised for his impressive technique at such a young age. At age 12, he started writing charts for a little band, after which he decided he wanted to explore jazz rather than keep up with the piano.
It came as no surprise that Ferguson became well-known in the industry for his astounding skill. Whether it was motion pictures, television, radio, or sitcoms, Allyn always showed up and wowed his audience while at it. In the 1970s, Ferguson collaborated with Jack Elliot to co-write the theme song to our beloved Barney Miller and Charlie’s Angels. These theme songs were viewed as iconic because everyone who heard these tunes could easily recall them.
Additionally, Ferguson worked with Elliot to create scores for Starsky & Hutch, Banacek, The Rookies, Fish, S.W.A.T., Big Hawaii, and many more. He was also the music director for the American Movie Awards, Kennedy Center Honors, Grammy Awards, and even the Oscars. Ferguson died of natural curses at 85 on June 23, 2010, at his California home. Despite passing away, Allyn Ferguson is alive through his many works, like the Barney Miller theme song, Charlie’s Angels, and Dune.
Dan Ferguson – Guitarist
Dan Ferguson is the legendary guitarist whose riffs helped to define the iconic Barney Miller theme song. Dan Ferguson is Allyn Ferguson’s son; his musical ability comes from deep within the family. Dan’s love affair with the guitar began at a young age. He was always captivated by the instrument’s ability to convey emotions. From the moment he strummed the first chord on his guitar, he knew this was the instrument over him.
Dan was pretty busy during the 1970s. He recorded with various artists and groups and dabbled into film and television soundtrack work, including the memorable Barney Miller theme song. In 1976, he took his place beside the Box Scaggs’ Silk Degrees on their tour, to the delight of his fans.
Beyond Barney Miller’s theme song, Dan’s illustrious career has blossomed over the years. He had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in the industry, from Steely Dan to Stevie Wonder and more popular names. He also created memorable riffs for top movie soundtracks due to his ability to seamlessly navigate various genres.
Some of his popular works include American Pastime by Three Dog Night, Blade Runner by the New American Orchestra, Ride Like the Wind by Freddie Hubbard, Wet by Barbra Streisand, and Uncle Jo Shannon by Bill Conti. Through his many works, Dan successfully carved out a niche for himself as one of the best session guitarists in the industry.
Paul Humphrey – Drummer
Paul Humphrey is a longtime session drummer who made his mark in the mind of many people through his contribution to the Barney Miller theme song.
Paul has always loved drums; he began playing this unique instrument at eight. He took private lessons in Detroit, and when in school, he would play the trombone, baritone horn, and drums. Once he graduated, he decided to enter the U.S. Navy and had the opportunity to study under Kenneth J. Abendschein.
Paul officially launched his musical career as a session drummer in the 1960s for Les McCann, Charles Mingus, Kai Winding, Wes Montgomery, Blue Mitchell, Jimmy Smith, and many more jazz artists. When he moved to Los Angeles, he joined the Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison Group alongside Frank Delarossa and Tommy Flannagan. Together, they recorded with Larry Williams and Jonny Watson. One performance that blew him to fame was starring as one of the drummers on Marvin Gaye’s album Let’s Get It On.
He created a band named Paul Humphrey and the Cool Aid Chemist. As a band leader, he recorded two hit songs with his band members, including David Walker, Clarence MacDonald, and Bill Upchurch. The Songs Funky LA and Cool Aid made it to the R&B Top 20 in 1971.
The opportunity to feature as one of the Barney Miller theme song musicians was one he didn’t pass up, and today, we can experience his talent whenever the Barney Miller theme song is played. Over the years, Paul has gone on to record with other top artists like Frank Zappa, Steely Dan, Maria Muldaur, and many others.
Chuck Findley – Trumpeter
This iconic and imitable trumpet legend remains one of the most recorded trumpet players f all time. Chuck began his musical career at 19 when he joined Buddy Rich’s band. From this moment, he started building his studio career in Los Angeles and developed close relationships with iconic trumpet players like Jerry Hey, Freddie Hubbard, and Gary Grant.
Chuck worked for some years on the Tonight Show, and throughout his career, he showcased his versatile talent on different brass instruments, especially the trombone. Chuck’s musical journey has been nothing short of remarkable. He collaborated with hundreds of artists throughout his career, leaving a strong mark on popular music and jazz.
You can easily hear Chuck playing on Steely Dan’s album Aja and Gaucho. He also featured in Al Jarreau’s album and recordings by BB King in London, and Jose Feliciano, amongst many others. One thing that makes Chuck stand out is how well he knows his instrument; we see this clearly in the Barney Miller theme song. With its catchy rhythm, the theme song became an instant classic that captured the essence of the beloved sitcom.
Chuck Berghofer – Bass Player
Chuck comes from a musical family. Therefore, it came as no surprise when he started playing trumpet at the age of eight. Although Chuck explored different brass instruments, he eventually settled on the double bass. He has always admired Ralph Pena and persuaded the man to give him a lesson.
Chuck’s musical career kicked off when he joined the orchestra led by Skinnay Evans on their tour. Afterward, he joined Shelly Manne’s house band and consistently played at the Manne Hole Club. Over the years, Chuck worked with several Jazzmen, including Frank Rosolino, Philly Joe Jonas, Jack Sheldon, and many others.
Like other leading musicians, it wasn’t long before Chuck dabbled in film, recording studios, and television. Musicians often play anonymously, but Chuck had his first spotlight when he backed Nancy Sinatra on a session. This gig gave him a prominent role; before long, he was booked all over town.
He began to record with Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers, and more. He also played on Barbra Streisand’s Funny Lady and with Frank Sinatra. Throughout his career, he recorded in 400 films earning him the Most Valuable Bass Player award from the prestigious National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for four consecutive years. During this time, Chuck played the bass on the Barney Miller theme song. His innate sense of rhythm and impeccable technique made him a force to be reckoned with in the music scene while making his mark in the mind of all Barney Miller fans.
The Barney Miller theme song is a timeless musical masterpiece, and each of the musicians behind it has left an indelible mark in the ears and hearts of fans worldwide. From the composers to the trumpeter, bass player, guitarist, and drummer, each of these musicians’ contributions elevated the theme song to legendary status. Their melodies have become ingrained in the memory of all Barney Miller fans, bringing a smile to their faces whenever they hear the song. So, next time you find yourself humming the Barney Miller theme song, take a moment to recognize and celebrate the immense talents behind it.
What key is the Barney Miller theme song?
The Barney Miller theme song ran for 42 seconds and was in a C key and a minor mode.
Is the theme song for Night Court the same as Barney Miller’s?
No, it is not. However, the Night Court theme song was composed by Jack Elliot, who also composed the Barney Miller theme song. Additionally, the creator of Night Court, Reinhold Weege, had previously worked on Barney Miller in the 70s.
Why is it called a theme song?
The song’s purpose is similar to a leitmotif. The theme song is a term used to refer to a signature song used at the beginning of every show episode.
Who created Barney Miller?
Danny Arnold created the beloved sitcom. He is an American writer, comedian, producer, director, and actor.