The Classic Rock/Magnum, P.I. Connection
Call me Senich, P.I. My mission is to find the classic rock connection wherever and whenever I can. With the recent news of a reboot coming this fall I've gone back on a Magnum, P.I. binge and it's led me to some very interesting findings. Although I can't tell you who the real Robin Masters is I can tell you the classic rock connections regarding the show's classic theme song.
Thanks to the Starz network I am able to go back and watch all 162 episodes of the classic television series Magnum, P.I. for the 100th time. If you're among the few who has never seen this show I say shame on you! You don't know what you're missing.
Magnum P.I. was a CBS show that ran for nine seasons (1980-1988) and featured the adventures of private investigator Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV a.k.a. "Magnum" played by Tom Selleck. Magnum, an ex-U.S. Navy SEAL and Naval Intelligence Officer who served in Vietnam, lived in the guest house of a Hawaii mansion run by British socialite Jonathan Quayle Higgins III played by the late great John Hillerman with the assistance of his two very protective Dobermans Zeus and Apollo. Magnum also had a couple of loyal friends who served in Vietnam with him - "T.C." played by Roger E. Mosley and Rick played by Larry Manetti.
I was late to the game on this show and didn't see any of the episodes until they re-ran in syndication in the early 90s. While on break from college in the summer and winter I watched all them on Channel 9 New York WWOR-TV.
Now I may or may not have played air guitar to the theme song many times but since there is no video evidence that exists I will just deny, deny, deny but I can confirm that I, like many, can't get enough of the classic 80s TV theme song. Well, at least from episode 12 on anyway. You may recall that the first 11 episodes started with a very lame disco-ish, jazzy-ish, I-don't-know-what-the-hell-ish theme song which sounded like this:
To quote the great Jonathan Higgins - "Oh...My....GOD!!!" That theme song is just flat-out terrible.
Thankfully a new intro song was drawn up before the first season was over and it sounded a little something like this:
Now that's what I'm talkin' about!
Back in the day there was no internet so little was known about the song other than it was flat-out awesome dude. In 2018, however, it's a whole different ball game. In deference to Mr. Magnum we'll make it a Detroit Tigers ball game. Nowadays we can find out so much more thanks in small part to Wikipedia and in big part to an amazing Magnum, P.I. website called Magnum Mania which was created by J.J. Walters in 2006. Steve Paruszkiewicz currently owns and maintains the site which is the absolute go-to when it comes to Magnum trivia and info.
As I was surfing the pages of Magnum Mania I found some interesting classic rock connections regarding the theme song. We'll start with the guitar work which comes from legendary jazz/rock guitarist Larry Carlton. Carlton appeared on hundreds of recording sessions with a long, impressive list of artists including Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, Christopher Cross and Steely Dan. In fact, Carlton played guitar on Steely Dan's 1976 track "Kid Charlemagne" which ranked 80th on the list of the best guitar songs by Rolling Stone magazine.
But the classic rock connections don't end there. The Magnum, P.I. theme song was written by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter. Post went to Ulysses S. Grant High School in the Valley Glen neighborhood of Los Angeles, California back in the early 60s. It turns out that Post (along with Tom Selleck) went to the same high school at the same time as the great Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees in the early 60s.
Along with his Monkees connection Post also is a part of Van Halen and The Who history. In 1998 Post was hired by Edward Van Halen to produce the band's album 'Van Halen III' and in 2006 Pete Townshend wrote a song for The Who's album called "Mike Post Theme":
So there you have it. Magnum, P.I. Not just a classic television show. It's a classic television show with classic rock connections. What's next? Are we going to someday find out that Jim Morrison is not only still alive but he, in fact, is Robin Masters?