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Mike Post is the most successful television music producer in history. He has 2 pieces of music playing every minute of each day that he will earn royalties on for 75 years after his death. Mike shares with us his unique philosphy on music, business and passion.
We interviewed him in his Kahala beach front vacation home on a beautiful Hawaiian day. Mike shared how he got started as a teenager and the string of opportunities and challenges that led him ultimately to success. He gives advice on how to do the same for our lives and the interview is ‘intense’.
I first had a meeting with Mike prior to this interview. A friend of mine and I met with him to discuss a music project and business. He initially alloted 30 minutes but ended up staying for an hour and ran off to his golf tee time. Although we had been given a lot of information the one thing that I could not stop thinking about was how excited and how much passion Mike had for what he does. Here’s a guy in his 60’s, well beyond financial independence. He flies in a private jet and mingles with the Hollywood elite and he was still so excited about music. He literally eats, sleeps and bleeds music. I left that meeting thinking to myself that if I can live a life with just 10% of the passion and excitement that Mike Post has for what he does I’ll live an extremely successful life. Thank you for inspiring me Mike, I hope to share your message with the world.
Some questions asked:
How did you get your start in music?
How did you learn your business skills?
What were the major milestones in your success?
What’s the most important thing a musician needs to be successful?
What’s the most common mistakes you see musicians make professionally?
What is the most important thing to teach your children?
What community or non profit organizations are you a part of?
How does your community involvement increase your business success?
Any advice for young entrepreneurs?
How do you develop up and coming musicians?
Moreland, Jennifer. “Mike Post.” The Museum of Broadcast Communications NA. 04 09 2005 http ://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/P/htmlP/postmike/postmike.htm.
Mike Post, one of the most successful composers in television history, has written music for television since the 1970s. He has won five Grammy awards for his theme songs and, by his own count, has scored over 6,000 hours of television and film. Post has produced the signature melodies for programs such as Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law and NYPD Blue. His distinct themes often have intense, industrial rock music cross-cut with smooth jazz sounds. These compositions are noted for their unique blending of styles as well as for the dramatic manner in which they complement a show’s narrative.
Post is regarded as the youngest musician ever to be appointed as musical director for a television program, assuming that role in 1969, at age 24, on The Andy Williams Show. Prior to that appointment, Post worked primarily as a session musician for a number of major artists including Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Sonny and Cher–he played guitar on “I Got You Babe” in 1965. He was also a successful producer and arranger, winning a Grammy at age 22 for Best Instrumental Arrangement on Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas.”
Post began his career in Los Angeles with the country-rock band First Edition, featuring Kenny Rogers. In the late 1960s he joined forces with Pete Carpenter, trombonist, arranger, and a veteran of television theme scoring, and began to write music for television. Post and Carpenter began working for producer Stephen J. Cannell and first wrote the theme for Cannell’s cop show Toma in 1973. The Rockford Files theme, however, was their breakthrough assignment. The whimsical synthesizer melodies seemed perfectly suited to the ironic character of James Garner’s Rockford. The score sealed their reputations and won Post his first Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement in 1975.
Hill Street Blues brought more accolades and continued success. The theme song, an elegant composition of simple, poignant piano music, struck a chord with audiences and soared onto the pop charts. It also impressed his peers and the critics and brought Post two more Grammys in 1981–one for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and one for Best Instrumental Composition.
Hill Street Blues also marked the beginning of a long-running, creative collaboration with Steven Bochco. One of the most prolific producers of successful dramatic series in the 1980s and 1990s, Bochco hired Post to write the Hill Street Blues theme and has worked closely with him ever since. The composer’s career was largely established by the music he composed for Bochco’s police or law-oriented dramas.
Post’s work is wholly devoted to compelling a program’s storyline and contributing to its overall tone. The slick, polished opening sounds of L.A. Law and the aggressive, chaotic drumbeats punctuating the segments of NYPD Blue episodes are examples of talent for melding images, emotions and sounds. He is also exceptionally resourceful in orchestrating his award-winning melodies. To achieve the unique sound of the NYPD Blue theme, for example, he used, among other effects, 1,000 Japanese men jumping up and down on a wooden floor, a cheese grater, and a subway horn. All these ideas are largely inspired by the program’s script, and Post’s ability to encompass a show’s character in his music is what has landed him atop the elite class of Hollywood composers. Only Pat Williams, Henry Mancini and Dave Grusin have attained comparable levels of success and respect in this field.
Ironically, his music has become so popular that the themes play on pop radio, a medium wholly disconnected from the visual drama he is committed to enhancing. One of his songs, “The Greatest American Hero,” is among the few TV themes ever to reach the number one spot on the Pop Singles charts. Others, such as the themes for Hill Street Blues and The Rockford Files, have reached the Top 10. His popular and unique compositions are not Mike Post’s only enduring legacy to television, however. He can also be credited with elevating television scoring to a fine art, and creating a new dimension of drama with his “ear for the visual.”
MIKE POST. Born in San Fernando, California, U.S.A., 1945. Married; children: Jennifer and Aaron. Began career as member of Kenny Roger’s country-rock band First Edition; went on to play for Sammy Davis, Jr., and Dean Martin; musical director, The Andy Williams Show, 1969; produced numerous television scores, including The Rockford Files, Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Doogie Howser, and NYPD Blue; arranged various Ray Charles LPs; record producer, Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5, among others. Recipient: five Grammy Awards.
Two on a Beach, 1971; Gidget Gets Married, 1972; Griff, 1973; Needles and Pins, 1973; Toma, 1973; Locusts, 1974; The Morning After, 1974; The Rockford Files, 1974, The Texas Wheelers, 1974; The Bob Crane Show, 1975; The Invasion of Johnson County, 1976; Richie Brockelman: Missing 24 Hours, 1976; Scott Free, 1976; The Black Sheep Squadron, 1977; Charlie Cobb: Nice Night for a Hanging, 1977; Off the Wall, 1977; Doctor Scorpion, 1978; Richie Brockelman: Private Eye, 1978; The White Shadow, 1978; Big Shamus, Little Shamus, 1979; Captain America, 1979; Captain America II, 1979; The Duke, 1979; The 416th, 1979; The Night Rider, 1979; Operating Room, 1979; 240-Robert, 1979; Tennspeed and Brownshoe, 1980; Scout’s Honor, 1980; Hill Street Blues, 1980; Coach of the Year, 1980; The Greatest American Hero, 1980; Palms Precinct, 1982; The Quest, 1982; Tales of the Gold Monkey, 1982; Will, G. Gordon Liddy, 1982; The A-Team, 1983; Bay City Blues, 1983; Big John, 1983; Hardcastle and McCormick, 1983; Riptide, 1983; The Rousters, 1983; Running Brave, 1983; Four Eyes, 1984; Hadley’s Rebellion, 1984; Hard Knox, 1984; No Man’s Land, 1984; The Return of Luter Gillie, 1984; The River Rat, 1984; Welcome to Paradise, 1984; Heart of a Champion, 1985; Stingray, 1985; Adam: His Song Continues, 1986; L.A. Law, 1986; The Last Precinct, 1986; Destination America, 1987; Hooperman, 1987; Sirens, 1987; Wiseguy, 1987; Murphy’s Law, 1988; Sonny Spoon, 1988; The Ryan White Story, 1989; B.L. Stryker: The Dancer’s Touch, 1989; Unspeakable Acts, 1990; Without Her Consent, 1990; NYPD Blue, 1993.
Borzillo, Carrie. “TV Composer Mike Post Takes BMI Award (Lifetime Achievement).” Billboard (New York), 28 May 1994.
Harris, Steve. Film and Television Composers: An International Discography, 1920-1989. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1992.
Olsen, David C., editor. Best of the 80’s: TV Songbook: A Prime Time Anthology. Miami, Florida: CPP/Belwin, 1988.
Wescott, Steven D. A Comprehensive Bibliography of Music for Film and Television. Detroit, Michigan: Information Coordinators, 1985.
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