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Mike Post
Post in 2002
Post in 2002
Background information
Birth nameLeland Michael Postil
Born (1944-09-29) September 29, 1944 (age 79)
Berkeley, California, U.S.
OriginLos Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresRock, pop, soul, theme music
Occupation(s)Producer, songwriter, musician, composer, arranger
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards
Years active1964–present

Mike Post (born Leland Michael Postil, September 29, 1944) is an American composer, best known for his television theme music for various shows, including The White Shadow; Law & Order; Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; The A-Team; The Byrds of Paradise; NYPD Blue; Renegade; The Rockford Files; L.A. Law; Quantum Leap; Magnum, P.I.; and Hill Street Blues. He was also the producer of the Van Halen III album by the band Van Halen.

Early musical career

Post's first credited work in music was cutting demos using two singing sisters, Terry and Carol Fischer. With Sally Gordon, they went on to become The Murmaids. Their first single, "Popsicles and Icicles" (written by David Gates), was a number 3 hit song in January 1964.[citation needed]

Post also provided early guidance for the garage rock band The Outcasts while in recruit training in San Antonio, Texas. He was the songwriter and producer for both songs on the band's first single, released in 1965, and also arranged a local concert where they served as the back-up band.[1]

He won his first Grammy Award at age 23 for Best Instrumental Arrangement on Mason Williams' "Classical Gas", a number 2 hit song in 1968. He is also credited as the record producer for Williams' LP that included that song, The Mason Williams Phonograph Record.

Billed as the Mike Post Coalition, their track "Afternoon of the Rhino" became a sought-after Northern soul track.[2] The single peaked at number 47 in the UK Singles Chart in August 1975.[3]

Post also worked with Kenny Rogers and produced the first three albums he recorded with his country/rock group Kenny Rogers and The First Edition (between 1967 and 1969). Post also produced Dolly Parton's hit album 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs in 1981. In 1997, he produced Van Halen's Van Halen III album.

Television theme music

One of his first jobs in television started when he was 24, as the musical director on The Andy Williams Show. Another early job was writing the theme music for the short-lived detective series Toma in 1973, but his big breakthrough (together with co-composer Pete Carpenter) came in the following year with his theme song for The Rockford Files, another series by producer Stephen J. Cannell. The theme also got cross-over Top 40 radio airplay and earned a second Grammy for Post.[4]

The Rockford Files theme became a Top 10 hit in both the U.S. (number 10) and Canada (number 8).[5] It ranks as the 85th biggest U.S. hit of 1975,[6] and the 84th biggest Canadian hit of 1975.[7]

Post subsequently won Grammys for Best Instrumental Composition for the themes of the television shows Hill Street Blues in 1981 and L.A. Law in 1988 as well as another Grammy in 1981 for Best Instrumental Performance for the Hill Street Blues theme, which also reached number 10 in the U.S.[4]

Post won an Emmy for his Murder One theme music, and had previously been nominated for NYPD Blue, among others. He has won Broadcast Music, Inc. Awards for the music for L.A. Law, Hunter, and the various Law & Order series. The theme for The Greatest American Hero (co-written with Stephen Geyer) is one of the few television themes to reach as high as number 2 as a single record on the Billboard Hot 100.[4] The "dun, dun" sound effect he created for the Law & Order franchise has entered popular culture.[8]

At the peak of his career, Post was the go-to composer for all of the series created by Donald P. Bellisario, Steven Bochco, Stephen J. Cannell and Dick Wolf. Due to the considerable amount of music to be created, Post operated an office with multiple staff composers, among them Walter Murphy, Velton Ray Bunch, Frank Denson, Jerry Grant and Greg Edmonson, all composing side by side in cubicles. Each would write music cues to complement specific scenes from each show in Post's signature style.[citation needed]

Other TV music works include The A-Team; Baa Baa Black Sheep; Blossom; The Commish; Doogie Howser, M.D.; The Greatest American Hero; Hardcastle and McCormick; Hooperman; Hunter; Magnum, P.I.; NewsRadio; Profit; Quantum Leap; Renegade; Riptide; Silk Stalkings; Stingray; Tales of the Gold Monkey; Tenspeed and Brown Shoe; The White Shadow; Wiseguy; the BBC series Roughnecks; and Philly.

In 1994, Post scored the Diagnosis: Murder episode "How To Murder Your Lawyer", designed as a backdoor pilot for a lawyer series.[citation needed]

In 2014, Post composed the score for the fake TV pilot Caged Heat in the All Hail the King short film for Marvel Studios.[9]

Inventions from the Blue Line

In 1994, Post released a CD, called Inventions from the Blue Line. The CD contained several of his well-known themes, featuring NYPD Blue and also including Law & Order, Silk Stalkings and Renegade. In the liner notes, he discussed his late father, Sam Postil, and the admiration for law enforcement officers that Sam instilled in Mike. He also referred to police in the traditional nickname of "blues", as in The Thin Blue Line (referring to the police in general and to police camaraderie). One of the tracks is called "The Blue Line", which Post calls "the comradery theme".

In popular culture

The Pete Townshend song "Mike Post Theme", which alludes to the ubiquity of Post's work in television theme music, appears on The Who's 2006 album, Endless Wire.

BMI Foundation: The Pete Carpenter Fellowship

David LaChance, Mike Post, BMI's Linda Livingston and Universal Music Group producer/writer Svoy

In 1989, Broadcast Music, Inc. Foundation and Mike Post established The Pete Carpenter Fellowship in memory of the late Pete Carpenter, who was Post’s co-composer of television scores and themes including The Rockford Files (for which they won a Grammy), Hunter, Riptide, Hardcastle and McCormick, Magnum P.I. and The A-Team. The Pete Carpenter Fellowship is an annual, competitive residency for aspiring television, film and video game composers.[10]



Charting singles

The following singles credited to Mike Post charted on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart[11] and/or on the Adult Contemporary chart:


  1. ^ Review from Fuzz, Acid and Flowers, partially reproduced on
  2. ^ Maconie, Stuart (2004). Cider With Roadies (1st ed.). London: Random House. p. 69. ISBN 0-09-189115-9.
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 432. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  4. ^ a b c "Who is Mike Post, and what were his contributions to music? - eNotes". Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-17. Retrieved 2015-05-06.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1975/Top 100 Songs of 1975".
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-20. Retrieved 2015-05-06.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Dan Gunderman (13 September 2016). "Examining the legendary 'dun, dun' sound from 'Law & Order' on the anniversary of the pilot episode". New York Daily News.
  9. ^ Campbell, Josie (25 February 2014). "Ben Kingsley talks 'All Hail The King' before fans gets sneak peek at 'The Winter Soldier'". Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Pete Carpenter Fellowship: for aspiring film, television, and video game composers". Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1991). Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 455.
  12. ^ "Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart". Retrieved 15 August 2019.