‘The A-Team’: How the Theme Song Took Inspiration From a Rock Classic

by Craig Garrett

The A-Team theme is one of the most iconic in classic tv, but one of its composers owns up for a possible reason for it. Mike Post understood the tongue-in-cheek humor of The A-Team. “That script, I laughed till I cried,” he said in an interview with the Television Academy. After winning Grammys for his song compositions on The Rockford Files and Hill Street Blues, he’d been contacted to compose the theme song.

The theme song was created by enlisting the help of Pete Carpenter — a seasoned arranger who previously collaborated with Earle Hagen to score programs such as Bewitched, The Andy Griffith Show, and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. According to Post, the tune “came together really easily.” One thing was for sure, the beginning had to have a distinct feel. “It’s got to be military[sounding], because that’s where [The A-Team] all met,” Post said.

A Cream riff lands in the A-Team theme

But when it came to the middle portion of the song’s melody, Post had a distinct vision in mind. Post was an avid fan of the rock band Cream. The band was often credited for bringing music combining blues with rock and roll to the mainstream. “The middle section’s gotta be: let’s rip off Cream,” Post recalled telling co-composer Carpenter. “Let’s rip off ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ in the middle section.”

If you play “Sunshine of Your Love” and The A-Team‘s theme simultaneously, you won’t be able to erase the distinct riff that made it such a hit for Cream. Of course, the riff made the A-Team theme highly memorable. Fans can still hum the tune to this day.

However, “Sunshine of Your Love” was released in 1967. The A-Team didn’t debut until 1983. The show aimed at a young audience that likely wasn’t even aware of Cream, let alone one of their songs from 15 years earlier.

Jack Bruce, the leader of Cream, might not have had any ill will toward Post for using his melody. When asked about it, Bruce said he essentially stole the riff from Jimi Hendrix. An example of another musician recognizing the power of the riff in question. “Sunshine of Your Love,” however, was a major hit in 1968, and its popularity has endured among critics, if not also casual music fans. It’s a staple of classic rock stations to this day.

Meanwhile, The A-Team has gone on to be a legendary 80s tv show. The series ran from 1983 until 1987, with a total of 97 episodes. It made the household name of Mr.T, who even had a line of cereal at the height of the show’s popularity. The show also spawned a line of action figures and a 2010 film.