Retro TV Themes Revisited :: Sanford and Son


Happy New Year’s eve. Lots of new features on ye olde Drunkard to keep an eye out for in 2008 – the first of which, Retro TV Themes Revisited, you got a sneak peak of earlier in the month via the Diff’rent Strokes theme. The feature aims to mine our long-running collection of past television (aural) glories. Have at it in the comments.

Sanford and Son ran on NBC from 1972 to 1977 and boasted one of the funkiest theme songs of any television show, ever. As a kid watching the re-runs (which are still in syndication today) I really wanted Red Foxx’s red junker pick-up truck. Scratch that, I still do.

Sure, the show’s theme song may have been under a minute, but that batch of funkiness is just a snippet from Quincy Jones’ “The Streetbeater” off his 1973 LP You’ve Got It Bad Girl. Download the full version below, and be sure to watch the trailer to see the track in effect.

MP3: Quincy Jones :: The Streetbeater (Theme to “Sanford and Son”)

Video: Sanford and Son – Opening Credits
Amazon: Quincy Jones – The Reel Quincy Jones

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17 thoughts on “Retro TV Themes Revisited :: Sanford and Son

  1. I’m getting a 404 file not found error on this download.

    What many Americans don’t know is that Sanford and Son was an American adaptation of one of the funniest ever British TV series, Steptoe and Son. Like several other British comedies (for example Till Death Us Do Part, remade as All In The Family; and Coupling and The Office, both remade in American versions) the original was deemed too British for American viewers to appreciate. For some reason, this process doesn’t seem to operate in the reverse direction; British viewers are allowed to appreciate the best of American comedy in its original form.

  2. Hee. This song is currently the ringtone on my cell phone. This show was one my dad always enjoyed, and hearing the song on my phone makes me think of him, and smile.

    P.S. to Derk: I’m pretty sure that’s a typo for 1977.

  3. Link fixed. And, yes, Derk, that is supposed to be ’77.

    Private Beach – Great call. I was wondering the same thing yesterday while posting this. Could not think, off the top of my head, of any US tv shows which were then re-done for UK audiences. Anyone know of any?

  4. welcome back kotter was performed by john sebastian (originally from the lovin’ spoonful). don’t know what album it was on.

  5. Thanks for this. Never saw Sanford & Son, but Steptoe was a big fave. The theme tune wasn’t as funky, though it may have inspired Syd Barrett’s riff on Interstellar Overdrive.

  6. I believe “Welcome Back” was originally on the album of the same name. You can also find it on “The Best of John Sebastian” CD, which is still available.

  7. For whatever it’s worth, there’s a great ska cover of the Sanford & Son theme by a group called Perfect Thyroid.

  8. Thanks for the song. Never realized it was Quincy Jones. And glad to see a reference to John Sebastian,. Was just going through my old LPs and found his self-titled album. Didn’t have Kotter, but had a lot of other great stuff on it.

  9. Sanford and Son! Does anyone else hum it whenever in a beat up truck or hauling stuff? And second the love for the Barney Miller theme as well.

  10. Actually Private Beach, we (The UK- tough I’m not taking any personal responsibility) made awful remakes of ‘The Golden Girls’ and ‘Married with Children’ (the latter starring Russ Abbott no less!) Though it’s hard to imagine it being anywhere near as good as Steptoe & Son (and the Office for that matter).

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