Ironside (Theme From "Ironside")


Born Quincy Delight Jones in 1933, Jones has won critical acclaim as a band composer, music producer and film composer. He produced three albums for pop star Michael Jackson; Off The Wall (1979) Thriller (1982) and Bad (1987) all three albums catapulted Jackson to mega super stardom. Jackson previously worked with Jones on the 1978 film ‘The Wiz’, an all black cast, sang and danced, through characters made famous by Frank L. Baum and the subsequent film ‘The Wizard Of Oz (1939) He is also the recipient of 28 Grammy awards.

Quincy Jones early talent was recognised by the great bandleader Lionel Hampton in the 1950s; Hampton took Jones under his wing and Jones found fame in his band as a trumpeter. Jones harboured leanings towards composing, and in his role as composer for Hampton, he eventually found the freedom in music he craved.

After many successful tours of Europe, where he cut his teeth and honed his skill, Hollywood came calling and Jones found that his sound and orchestration, suited the mood and mise en scéne of films.

In 1967, the year saw Jones on prolific form, where he composed the soundtracks for four films, all which featured his classic sound, with vary degrees of intensity, befitting the subject matter. They are as follows: The Deadly Affair, Enter Laughing, In The Heat of The Night and In Cold Blood; adapted from the 1965 novel by Truman Capote. It was in this year that Jones was approached by Universal Television and Harbour Productions (Raymond Burr’s own production company)

Ironside was a police procedural programme with a difference; the main character Chief Robert T. Ironside played by Raymond Burr, was crippled in a shooting incident whilst on duty. After intense therapy he became an advisor for the San Francisco Police Department, with his small team of officers and detectives, who became his eyes and legs: as he was wheelchair bound.

Quincy Jones landed the job of creating a theme tune that was both dynamic and recognisable to audiences, and that also conveyed a sense of power and presence which Raymond Burr brought to the role. Thus the theme for Ironside was born.

In 1973 Quincy Jones reworked the classic theme using some of the biggest jazz musicians of the day. His album ‘Smackwater Jack’ featured such greats as Freddie Hubbard, Eric Gale, Grady Tate, Paul Humphrey, Bob James, Joe Sample, Jimmy Smith, Chuck Rainey, Hubert Laws and Toots Thielemans to name but a few.

In the lesser credits it would feature Edd Kalehoff and Paul Beaver on Moog Synthesizer, two exponents of the instrument, that I shall cover in a later blog. They elevated the theme tune to the rarefied heights that we now know and in doing so Quincy Jones became the first composer to use a synthesiser on a television theme tune.

The version I have included is the one from his 1973 album Saltwater Jack; finding life thirty years later in the 2003 Quentin Tarantino directed film, ‘Kill Bill’.

Head editor & Author 

Theodore St Vincent


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