The ‘Happy Days’ Theme Song Became a Record After Requests Flooded Radio Stations

by Emily Morgan

“Happy Days” has been a staple in American entertainment. From its lovable characters to its theme song, the classic TV show remains to stand the test of time. Speaking of the “Happy Days” theme song, it was so catchy that it became a hit when the show premiered.

At the time, some early theme songs became hits, such as the ones from “Dragnet” or “Hawaii Five-O.” However, it wasn’t typical for that to happen. Yet, all that changed when producer Steve Barri started creating TV theme songs in 1975.

According to reports, Barri’s son loved the theme from “SWAT.”

When he found out his son loved the theme song, Barri, who worked at Warner Brothers, reached out to the show’s producers to see if he could record his own song for “SWAT.” 

“The producers of the show were thrilled that we were interested, so I got some studio musicians (Rhythm Heritage) and recorded a single,” Barri said in 1976.

After the “SWAT” song became a hit, Barri used it as a model for expanding other TV themes into hits.

“We had to rework and stretch all those themes,” Barri said. “For instance, on the “SWAT” theme, we took the basic music and turned it into a disco number by doing things like adding an instrumental break. On ‘Welcome Back,’ I went to work with John Sebastian and added a chorus and a harmonica solo. All you have to do is be careful to maintain the feel of the show and not add anything that doesn’t fit the main theme music.”

‘Happy Days’ fans demand theme song hit the radio

While Barri was doing this, “Happy Days” fans were demanding that radio stations play the “Happy Days” song. As the show was becoming a global hit, fans would request that the theme song be played on the airwaves. Shortly after that, Barri got the call about working on an official “Happy Days” single. 

Per the Los Angeles Times, “Paul Drew, an executive in the RKO radio chain, informed a music publisher about the requests for a “Happy Days” single and stated that if an adequate one were recorded, his stations would play it.”

As a result, Barri got into the studio with his band. The band, Pratt & McClain, laid down the track within days and got it on the radio for the fans. 

“We were looking for a top Top-40 type song for this new group,” Barri said. “The “Happy Days” theme was a natural for their first record. About two days after I heard about the idea, we had put together a record and had given it to the stations. They started playing it right away even though it wasn’t in the stores until nine days later.”

Once on the air, the “Happy Days” song was in the top five on the national charts. Even Barri got noticed by other sitcoms who wanted him to work on their songs. He went on to turn theme songs into hits for shows such as “Laverne & Shirley” and “Starsky & Hutch.”