Interview With Stu Phillips
Darth Vader’s Bathroom: THE Knight Rider Podcast
S00E01 Interview With Stu Phillips
Paul Alves: and Jimmy Stu Phillips is here with us today. My friend, hello, Stu. How are you?
Stu Phillips: I’m fine. And I’m not really with you.
I’m here in California, but, that’s okay. It was a modern invention called the telephone we’re able to talk. How about that?
Paul Alves: It is a marvelous Stu, and not only that, but I’m in Toronto in sir. Jimmy, where are you at?
Sir Jimmy: I’m in North Carolina, we’ve got a little isosceles triangle go into your pinpoints.
Paul Alves: Fantastic. Stu I gotta say, before we even started that, I I’ve watched a lot of television. I’m a big music fan. I’m an audio file. I’m a podcaster. I do the whole thing. I’ve composed some music that no one should every year. I gotta say that a night writer has to be the epitome of.
TV themes. It just so perfect. I I, well,
Stu Phillips: want to say thank you for your, lovely comments. I mean, and much appreciated. And, I thank you.
Paul Alves: Let’s let’s do, I mean, even today, it’s difficult working with production houses and, the timelines are crazy.
But , back in the eighties, when, you know, you had five months between the show concept and it airing on NBC, I can’t imagine that you were given much time to come up with this theme, especially since You the time, the intro, the visuals to your theme. So I would imagine that you did not have much time to do this.
Stu Phillips: also a history of, of, film and TV composing composers never really ever have, as much time as they’d like to have. there are rarities occasionally, but most of the time you’re always pushed to push to the limit, mainly because the producer director, whoever they’re more interested in everything else.
until, they get to the very end and then it’s the music. And then everything is music becomes the most important thing of the thing. And they say, well, we don’t have any time. So, you sometimes wonder just how important it is to them if they didn’t leave any time. But. It’s always been a rush. Okay.
even when there was time, somehow the producer would manage to make it so that they would be a rush. And in this case, if I recall on night rider, we weren’t against the wall. we had some time, because the, the original cut and everything was a library with some, some kind of a German since, music that didn’t have didn’t match anything that had to do on the screen.
It’d be just synthesized music. And, the network was interested in the fact that since the car was, did you know the latest. Creation of man that, we should have, synthesizes. now this was 1982 and there weren’t a lot of. Synthesize is used as featured instruments. Up until that time, they’d always been kind of aside from the, the, the one that used in spell bound and, and everything.
the theremin up until that time, basically people use them occasionally in scores, but nobody ever. Featured M and a, this was going to be, to our knowledge, one of the first times that we were going to feature a theme, featuring synthesizes, synthesized music. And, so not being a real fishy Ondo or.
Great studier of, of synthesizers. I, you know, called a few of my buddies. I said, let’s give me a crash course on the phone here about synthesis. I had used them before, but all I ever did was just write down synthesizer and write some notes down and they did whatever they did, you know, but here was a case where I was going to create something.
Right. And, and so, I needed to have a little more knowledge. And, they filled me in and, The only thing that I would do again, was not used for synthesize of players. I would use one and a half over dumped three times. But, yeah. Well, that’s something you learn as you go along. I thought I was being brilliant and saying, you know what?
And I got four parts here. I’ve got flogged gift forces besides the players and do it. And, to this day, I always felt like if I’d gotten one and had them over dub, he’d had a better feel of what he. You know, we was doing on this thing here. I had four guys and everybody was like doing their thing, you know, all in all it, it finally ended up okay.
Ended up fine, you know, but, I think it probably, would have been, vetted the other way.
Paul Alves: stew, I got a C in all gels together and here I’m hearing from you that you actually had four players. Simultaneously doing the composition makes so much sense now. I mean the, the, it, it all gel together.
You didn’t do it in four tracks. You had four players.
Stu Phillips: Yeah. Four players, no overdubs. There were no overdubs done on the entire thing. To my knowledge, God, I it’s very possible that. That, that, that slide of the synthesizers that might’ve been overdone, but I really don’t remember it’s so long ago, guys. I can’t remember, but basically it was live, live on tape as we, everybody played.
And, all we did that day was the theme, nothing else, theme in the end credits and the bumpers and stuff. And, And, all, all I did with it was add a rhythm section and, some percussion and, it was decided to forgo any other, you know, instruments, coming in and, just leave it at that.
And, all I can say is that producer was happy. Network was happy. Everybody was happy. That made me happy.
when producers are happy, networks are happy, then I’m happy. That’s right.
Sir Jimmy: so I wrote down a couple of notes and I thought maybe one of the reasons.
Back then is that the synthesizer was so expensive? I don’t know. There was a lack of memory where there are no recording things. did you use an eight Oh eight kick drum at any point? And I want to say that I think it’s just beautiful that it’s four people making that piece of music.
Stu Phillips: and also for your audience, the they figured down better.
Dah, dah, dah. I don’t know. I was eighth and the 16th notes. They were not, they were not sequenced. They were played.
Paul Alves: Wow.
Stu Phillips: They were physically played by Ralph Grierson played it. If I recall, I think he was the one who played that, but I have four key, Randy Kerber, Ralph Grierson, Oh God.
Who else was on it? I think Mike Lang might’ve been, I can’t remember before, when I actually have a list of all the musicians from the session.
Sir Jimmy: send me that list.
Stu Phillips: no, no, I can send you the list. Yeah, no,
Paul Alves: now still we don’t blame you for me. I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday.
And you’re, you’re remembering stuff that happened 30, 40 years ago. I applaud you.
Stu Phillips: Yeah, I can tell you, Amy Richards was on percussion. He played the vibes. I forget the drummer’s name, but it wasn’t my regular drummer. in fact that drummer, I think ended up in prison. I think he killed his wife or something like that.
I can’t remember his name, but it’s on that list. but he wasn’t, my regular, my regular drummers were busy.
Sir Jimmy: somebody that puts pieces of music together. Would you say that just the fact that you have four people creating this piece of music, this masterpiece. Yeah, playing together versus one person with a mouse cutting pieces together and making it sound perfect and methodical.
I think that just takes like the love and the beauty out or the piece of music. What do you think? Oh,
Stu Phillips: I agree. No, I agree. Wholeheartedly. I I’m I’m I’m always for. I’m always for live stuff. Even when I was in the record business and, did recordings. I always insisted that the singer record live with the orchestra.
And if for some reason we didn’t or the singer or myself, or, didn’t think that this was as good as they could do. yeah, I would do overdubs, you know, doing over and over. Give them the luxury or her, the luxury of trying new to do a vet attract. But I always insisted that they do it. They sing live with the orchestra and the whole set we would get, good tracks like that.
And I did a whole album with James, Darren, and, everything was done live with the orchestra with absolutely no overdubs of any kind. Everything just completely live. That was. I guess 1962 or three.
Sir Jimmy: Sounds like a rat pack live at the sands. Yeah,
Stu Phillips: that was the way I treated it years in American business and a few, a lucky number, one records and everything. and when I got into the TV scoring and film scoring and everything, I always felt that I wanted as much as possible that I have everything done live. I mean, if it. Turned out. It was, you know, it was necessary to overdub something or to do something like that. That’s fine.
When I got into pick a lactic and started to do all of those, background, since things, you know, source music, then it became like a, what’s the sense of going in with a gang of people here. And I personally, myself, Ian Underwood, would go in. And we just, the two of us would just do stuff and overdub it and, and, you know, we wouldn’t mess around with trying to do all that stuff live.
It wasn’t worth the money. It wasn’t worth the time. And that way there, I didn’t have to write a lot, all outta to do is write a baseline and a theme, a melody. And we went from there, you know? Yeah.
Sir Jimmy: You know, that sounds so eighties.
Stu Phillips: Yeah. Yeah, we do two at a time. You know, we do two at a time. He’d play one thing.
I’d play something else. And then, he did all the difficult playing. I did the simple thing.
Paul Alves: Now let’s do one thing. One thing I wanted to ask you was, I know that a lot of these episodes were being produced literally two weeks before the aired. So I’m guessing you didn’t have more than two weeks to.
Score? No, I’m not talking about the theme. I’m talking about the, the incidental music. Yeah. So
Stu Phillips: your four day air four days, five days, five days is a lot. Five days is a lot, four days was the usual. and, It was always strange scoring. you know, I would get two sheets, one at a time. Sometimes I get real pool before I got real one, you know, depending upon what the music editor got delivered from the film editor, what the film editor was, getting an okay from the producer that okay.
That that’s a final goal. Send it off. And I get, Oh God, I’m in the middle of the show and I’m writing cues. But if I don’t write something, then I’m going to be out of luck because I’m never going to be able to wait until I get it in sequence. I’ll have one day then to do it, you know?
Paul Alves: you wouldn’t get the whole episode in, in a row.
So You would get like a five minute segment. And they’d ask you,
Stu Phillips: well, I get it by real. I get it by reels. In other words, if they were the five reels or something in the, in the episode, the film editor after he got his notes from Nick producer of what to cut or what to do, or what the ricotta, what to do, he didn’t necessarily always go to reel one.
You know, he might go to a real four and he might finish off real for right. And say, okay, that’s done. And he ship it over to the music editor, have a dupe and the music editor would then make the notes and then having a delivery boy or delivery guy or delivering to my house. and, I would, if I didn’t start writing.
Then I would never make the deadline. now, nowadays, it’s a little different because, a lot of guys will wait because they have an army of, of people, you know, sitting around, waiting to do all the work. I’m not trying to criticize what, how they do it or what they do it, but that seems to be the style.
Now it’s like, you know, I’m the composer and I’ve got five other guys who were also composers, you know, and a deadline. Yeah. Deadlines don’t bother me because I’ll just hire another five and we’ll have 10 composers, you know, and everybody will do a Q and a, and then that’s it. unfortunate, not unfortunately, but the way I work, I was, I had, an assistant period.
Who wrote basically no music would occasionally when the, especially on Galactico, which was a big orchestra occasionally do some market station for me. And, we do orchestration when I would, reuse. thematic music from another episode and recreated for the episode I was in, I would be able to say, Hey, take out the score from that thing there.
And I want to do the same orchestration and he would do that. So basically he was just, you know, Kind of doing my bidding, you know, I didn’t physically have to go sit down and write the notes out and that’s how I did my TV career of some 26 shows or something. Oh goodness.
Paul Alves: You have quite the, Resume and television
Stu Phillips: ran all of to one episode, you know, it’s not like I’m claiming, every show was a long running. There was a whole bunch of,
Paul Alves: no, I understand, but I mean like 30% of my childhood in the seventies and eighties, I was listening to your music during the shows.
Stu Phillips: Well, thank you. Yeah. Well then you had to be listening to Galactica and buck Rogers and at night writer and sheriff Lobo and BJ and the bear and all
Sir Jimmy: BJ and the Hardy
Stu Phillips: boys, the Hardy boys and Nancy screw at drew. Excuse me.
Paul Alves: I would watch Nancy screw. If you would score it, if you would score it, I would watch it.
Stu Phillips: I always used to, I always used to joke on that thing at the top of the page, I’d write the horny boys and Nancy screw, you know, Hey, you gotta do something to keep your sense of humor when they kept dumping this stuff on you in the last minute. Yeah.
Paul Alves: And we needed it in three days there. Stew. We need it in three days.
Stu Phillips: Yeah, well, that’s not bad. That’s okay. I’ll give you, I’ll do it in the three days. But when you run the scoring stage and the guy comes down and says, Oh, by the way, they just recut real two and do it all over. You was out and this queue is longer and everything else and you have to go rewrite it. Why are you standing on the stage?
Sir Jimmy: Yeah. Let me ask you, do you think that like, like when Knight rider, may and Paul are kind of amazed that you managed to come up with this in five months? And it sounds like you’ve been thrown a lot of jobs that are much more intense than that, like short term couple days. Would you say that having like a, a deadline to get something?
Well, first of all,
Stu Phillips: yeah, the five months or night, right? It was not really five months for me. I mean, it might’ve been five months in development and all of that stuff, but, I didn’t get involved in the thing until, they had actually shot the movie and made a first cut that to show to the network.
So that was basically when I got involved in it. And, and that was much less than five months. Yeah.
Sir Jimmy: Okay. So this was like probably
Stu Phillips: a week. Yeah. Yeah, that would be the pilot.
Sir Jimmy: So you did a bunch of pilots, like he was saying earlier, you know, that you did a bunch of stuff for seven days, like one show or two shows.
Stu Phillips: I like things like Benny and Bonnie and, which I think ran on, I dunno, a couple of episodes. Then there was one with the Smothers brothers. I can’t remember the name of it. I ran about six episodes before it got. Dump. And, I can’t even remember some of them. And they were really, I thought it was one series I did at Fox up was, ran a whole season called masquerade, which was actually a pretty, wasn’t a bad show with, Greg Navigant and, Christy, what’s the name from cheers.
Paul Alves: Christie.
Stu Phillips: Yeah, Christie alley, I’m sorry. When she was really thin and, and beautiful and, well,
Paul Alves: and I know she’s big and beautiful.
Stu Phillips: Yeah. Now she’s beautiful.
Paul Alves: , I have to ask you because I did some research and, and I know that you’re a classical composer by trade. the question is what, what inspired you to bring back an old opera?
For a, for a night.
Stu Phillips: What do you mean? No, that wasn’t an inspired that wasn’t purposely done. That wasn’t a, no, I had no idea what I was playing. Okay. I had come up with the running 16th, figure down, ended the baseline. Wow. And I played that for Glen. He says, how are you doing on a theme? And I said, well, here’s what I got, you know?
And he says, great. He says,
the baseline? And I had it bumped and I had a little, a little guitar riff that goes before the thing comes in. All of that I had was all done. I played it for Glen. And, and he said, great, where’s the tune? And I said, Oh, you want a tune on top of this? He said, yeah, So not being the greatest pianists, not in John Williams class as a pianist.
It was difficult for me to play that running 16, figure with the left hand and try to find something else. And so I played the simplest thing that came to my mind, you know, having no knowledge believe me. I had not heard that piece of music probably for 40 years, you know? that particular, piece
Sir Jimmy: and what are you going to do about something that’s an ear worm.
I mean, it just, yeah,
Stu Phillips: well I just, I played that and got all done. And then when I started to put it down on paper and started to go over in my mind, I said, God, that sounds familiar. You know?
Sir Jimmy: Yeah, sounds familiar. So I said,
Stu Phillips: I wonder why. And a lot of times when things sounded familiar to me, when I researched it and discovered it was something I wrote previously, you know, and I said, Oh great.
And this CA you know, so I went there as a L the book out there. There is still a book, that has. Classical music themes, in it. And you can kind of like find it by putting in the first few notes. So I put in the first few notes of, of this thing and came up and said, Oh my God, that’s exactly like that.
You know, opera. Yeah. And so I’ve told Glen, I said, you know, Glen, that melody, we have bumped it up and put it off. I said, that’s actually from a, you know, an old opera. He said, well, was it PD. I said, Oh yeah.
He says, how many people go there? No, that thing there. I said, well, I don’t know. I know though kind of bothers me. He says, well, forget about it.
yeah, I’m happy to, network’s happy everybody. If everybody’s happy, I’m happy. Let’s drop it. And so we dropped it, but who knew that a lot of aficionados of TV. Music themes were also people who knew old. Very rarely done. Yeah.
Suddenly a direct interview.
One day somebody said to me, what gave you the idea? Just like you just did to use that theme. I said, yeah. Nothing gave me the idea. It was, I mean, it was just the easiest thing for me to play with my right hand while I was trying to manipulate the notes on the left.
it’s a great melody.
Paul Alves: It’s my only gripe with the 2008 reboot of the series was they did use your dentin and then nnnn. But when I did not hear that, that theme. The melody. I said, Oh man, you know what, you know what? I’m not watching this show anymore.
Stu Phillips: Yeah. All that shit was a piece of crap, but by English, French, that’s it cut out French for crap,
yeah. And the sad story about that is that right. When I knew they were doing that thing, I, I contacted the music department at universal and I said, listen, people, I’m not looking for the job. I don’t want to go to work on the show I’m through with that.
I said, but for God’s sakes, I said, I can’t tell ya all over the world. His theme is very well known. You’d be remiss for not using it. And, I said, I understand that, that it may be sounds a little dated. I said, I have several arrangements that people have done that are on YouTube, that I can send you that are really great.
And I said, I admire what they did with it. They, you know, they did some nice things. So, I sent it, so the music that I went to, the thing, and then they meet ahead of the music there said to me while I really don’t have anything to do with that show. How can going ahead of the music at universal?
I have nothing to do with it. gave me the names of the producers and I’ll get in touch. So I got in touch with them and they were wonderful people. They never answered me. I cut pride again, never answered me. So I figured like the hell with them. And then they came up and they hired this guy and, and he just took four bars and butchered that.
Paul Alves: butchered was the word I was gonna use. Butcher stew. Let, let, let me give you my, my, I’m terrible at, You know, doing the music live here, but let me, let me just say that when I was watching that and I heard Dundon and , and then I was like, Oh my God, they’re going to use two Phillips theme.
This is great. And all of a sudden when
Stu Phillips: yeah, I went to some
Paul Alves: and I was like, Oh my God, Oh God, this is terrible. Why didn’t they consult Stu Phillips? And apparently now that you’re telling me that you consulted them and they just were like, yeah, go away guy. Yeah,
Stu Phillips: what’s the best part of when you want to talk to me.
I know obviously the music of Harry , the young Harry coffee of, I think I, he obviously contacted them and says, listen, I heard from Stu Phillips. And he said like, you know, really this theme is such so popular and he doesn’t want to do it. He doesn’t want the job. He’s not looking to get, you know, the work or anything else would he just thinks for your sake.
This theme should be there. And he sent me some modern versions of it up to date, 2008, arrangements of it. and, I’ve eventually, they said, well, we’re not interested. You know, we got our composer, we got our composer. Yeah,
Paul Alves: we got it. And screw you guys. And you know, let’s do a w on our YouTube channel.
would you still star ship elvis.com? our YouTube channel, I put up a, A video that compared, that we’re going to call it butchered theme song to Nirvana smells like teen spirit. Cause there’s one segment there where it goes narrow, narrow, narrow, narrow, narrow, narrow, near, which is right out of a Nirvana smells like teen spirit.
And if you hear a Nightrider theme right now, that’s my phone going off. Sorry, let me turn that off. Yeah. That’s my theme. So
Stu Phillips: as far as I’m sorry, go ahead.
Paul Alves: But, but yeah, and, and I put up a video that compared that theme, the butchered theme, with Nervana theme spirit, and it had 250,000 views. And as soon as I hit about 260,000 views, NBC pulled it down.
due to copyright notice. Cause they didn’t want me talking about it, but it was a butcher job and yeah. Had they used even the original theme that you composed? I think they might’ve made it to season
Stu Phillips: two. Okay. Who knows? Who knows? Never. Never know. Okay. Well
Sir Jimmy: let me tell you my favorite part of I’m sorry.
I’ve just been listening and soaking all this up. This is like a stuff I would have killed to have in a comic book back in the eighties, every word, every word out of your mouth stew.
Stu Phillips: So
Sir Jimmy: what my, my question is, it’s not a question, I guess, observation, when it goes like Denton and then it goes through don’t
Stu Phillips: neglect.
Sir Jimmy: It sounds like
Stu Phillips: it. In
Sir Jimmy: like a little eight year old child. And I think, you know, like a 70 year old man who was watching your show, those are the people that recognized the stuff from the old opera or it has. That is. That’s just magic.
Stu Phillips: What I did was
Paul Alves: it’s like a siren, right? It goes room.
Stu Phillips: Well, I tightened the theme is what I did the, on the first time the theme comes to comes to light. Yeah. Bump, bump, bump, right later on after the middle part, when it comes back, as you said, it goes
In other words, it’s half the half the, half the speed of the first one.
Sir Jimmy: That’s what makes it, yeah, that was,
Stu Phillips: Oh, that was purposely done to increase the action, of the piece without doing anything different, you know, I just simply took it and compressed it. Do you impressed, four bars into two bars?
Paul Alves: I love that, that second part where it goes a little bit slower. It sounds almost like a bell
we could talk about this for days too. I love that theme. It has to be, it is the epitome. It’s the King of the Hill. It’s the top of the pyramid. It’s the best. it’s this that’s just the classical TV theme song that even people that don’t like the show never watch the show. They all know it. I can’t believe it.
Stu Phillips: it. I appreciate all of your comments and everything else, but to be perfectly honest, there was a few other TV themes that, that, mission impossible and a few others that are, you know, definitely spot on, you know,
Sir Jimmy: but not for someone 50 years old and under like us.
Stu Phillips: Oh, you know, Peter,
Sir Jimmy: this is your target demographic.
Stu Phillips: Oh, great. Okay. I got it. Maybe I’ll get, maybe I’ll get hired.
Paul Alves: by the way, Stu the show you’re on right now is called. Darth Vader’s bathroom.
The Knight Rider Podcast .
Stu Phillips: I saw that and I said, well, wait a minute, they got a little confused here. I got nothing to do with, with dots, Vespa. I realize I realized you had a colon there. And I said, Oh, that seems to be the name of the show.
Sir Jimmy: I decided to go the significance of the colon,
Paul Alves: right? The colon is important.
Well, once you get over 40 Jimmy, the colon is very important. My friend.
Stu Phillips: You better believe it. Where did it come to 90? Where did you get to 90?
Paul Alves: So, so Stu the whole thing is just a little bit, just a little bit, but, the Knight Rider, the theme was important to me. I was a child of the, you know, the seventies, eighties, and, dad controlled the TV and the, in most houses back then there was one TV.
So. When dad put Knight Rider on, I was like, Oh, that’s good. I’ll watch it. You know, we didn’t have TVs in our pockets, like the kids nowadays, right?
Stu Phillips: Yeah. Right.
Paul Alves: Theme song came on. It was like, Oh, I was hypnotized. I was 11 years old watching the theme. Come on live. This is a must be a great show. This, this song is great. I
Sir Jimmy: wonder when that song came on, no matter what was happening in the house. Somebody heard a little piece of it. Just a couple seconds. One second. And boom.
Paul Alves: Hey, Whoa, Whoa. Oh yeah. I was diving for, for, the VCR control in our house was wired. So I could just grab any part of the wire and say, dad, you are not changing this channel. You are staying on NBC because this song is great. This car is great.
Stu Phillips: Yeah. Well, that’s how it goes. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you don’t.
Sir Jimmy: I had a black Trans-Am that looked an awful lot, like kit when I was a kid.
And I kind of, I totally just put that on at your feet right there.
Stu Phillips: Yeah. It’s all your fault. It’s so many trainers copies of that car all over the world. I could mention to know. Yeah, I did one in Birmingham, England, and then the guidance guy had a beautiful, beautiful car, drivable and everything, you know, just,
Sir Jimmy: hello, Deutschland. Here’s the Hoff.
Stu Phillips: Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I did a, convention in, Dusseldorf.
Oh, wow. Yeah. While I was in the, it was in the, actually the, the one of brothers version of universal, you know, park, and Warner Brothers had one in, out, not in Dusseldorf outside of Dusseldorf.
I can’t remember. Name of the place and they did a whole, we did, the Knight Rider fan club of Germany did a, a whole Knight Rider a thing at the park and, it was quite nice.
Sir Jimmy: speaking of Dusseldorf, have you ever met David Hasselhoff?
Stu Phillips: I. He was standing outside the stage one day when I was going on the stage and I, you know, obviously recognize him.
He was standing there alone. Obviously taking, an air break or just taking a break from the stage. And, and I just went and I said, Hi. Hi Dave, I’m Sue Phillips a composer and he went hi, and that was it.
I never, never, ever met David or had anything to do with him.
Sir Jimmy: Did he smell terrific?
Stu Phillips: Did he smell? I don’t know.
Sir Jimmy: Did he smell terrific? I imagine that he did smell terrific.
Stu Phillips: So, yeah, he just said hi and that’s it. And, I never had the opportunity or an air ever again to ever see him or her, or do anything with them.
However, When he was nine, I think Australia. Yeah, he did an album of David Hassell was singing at the end of the album. He had a D ranger who did the arrangements, do an arrangement a night rider with a symphony orchestra style. And it’s really, really great. It’s on David Hasselhoff album, the one, these headlights, the patriotic, God, I can’t think of it.
But I don’t think he made the other albums. Let’s a few look up the David Hasselhoff sayings or something like that. The last track in that thing is Knight rider and the, ranger did a really, really great, semi symphonic, arrangement of it, kind of really good. I liked the commend people when they do nice things.
Sir Jimmy: Hasselhoff is big in Germany.
Stu Phillips: Yeah, he’s a big, big number one. Number one, man. In, in Germany and France. I think pretty good in France. England loves Knight Rider. I know that,
Paul Alves: quick questions to Glen Larson who gave you a lot of work? I’m sure. In the seventies and eighties. And there you go, a quick question, because he’s listed as, a coal.
Composer for the night writer theme. Did, did he have any input other than do this, do that?
Stu Phillips: No.
Paul Alves: Okay. So his name was just, we’ve
Stu Phillips: heard that you’ve heard, you’ve heard the story about an order. the, in the early days of the movies, the, you had the couch audition, which was called, you had. Have, have, sexual, sexual things with the producer or the director of the studio head to get a part in the picture.
Yeah, well that was my. Staying on the couch. Okay. What he said, Glenn Glenn, always, you know, if Glen said, Oh, I w I like it better. If an, if you take that note and go down with it instead her up. Okay. Not a problem. Yeah. Do that. That may Glen, the Co- composer. Okay. So, what can I, what can I tell you? His name is on Galactica.
His name is on Nightrider. His name is on switch. His name is on, 40 boys. And, well, the buck Rogers. I did not write this song. He wrote that he wrote that in 12th or with somebody else. I don’t know, but not with me. I had nothing to do with the song. I think it’s called suspension, right? Yeah, with, buck Rogers, song that completely, what happened was, when I wrote the score, I’m a composer who likes to use the theme of the show.
in, in the scoring of the show, in other words, when appropriate, I like to bring up the main theme. I feel let it get the audience gets a sense of recognition. You know, it kind of pulls things together. So I’m one of those people and I’ll even use the theme of the show. If I didn’t write it, you know, somebody else wrote it.
I don’t care. Even though I don’t make any money on it, it works for the score. And that’s. Well, my job is my job is to present a score that works regardless of where we came from, what happens and, in, in, particular cases, you know, like with, with Glen, suggestion would become a co-composer.
And the first time he did it, which was the first show I ever did for him called switch.
Paul Alves: Are they just trying to get a piece of the pie at that point?
Stu Phillips: Yeah. Well, I mean, it was the, that is right, but with Glen, it was a matter of, his, he was, played guitar and he was a singer in a group, you know, the force of four preps.
And, he, wasn’t musical aside from that, you know, we didn’t read music or anything yet. Oh, so you just play. But he had this sense, it’s a vote he wanted to hear and everything else. And he went, when he was doing McLeod, he went to composers like. Crazy because, you know, they didn’t want pay attention to him.
You know, like you’re hired, I’m hired by the studio and I’ll do, I’ll write what I want, you know, and that upset him. And when he went to do the pilots for the $6 million man in 1974, which is where I got back with Glen, believe it or not, I don’t know if the story is just you, but that was 10 years after I was Glenn’s producer.
Wow. Okay. When he was a member of the four preps singing group on Capitol records, I was an ANR man at Capitol records. And my first assignment that I was given was to, do a session with the four preps because their contract was up in there. They had a day, he had a day old capitalist session. And so I produced a session with the four preps of which Glen Lawson was.
One of them. And so I was his producer and then 10 years later, I get a phone call from his office. Do I want, am I interested in doing a TV pilot? And, yeah. I had not spoken to the man in 10 years, because after, yeah, after the record that we made, which actually the record that we made came, an almost instant hit, but was taken off the air by Capitol records because the Beatles, it was a song that had to do to Beatles.
and, the Beatles, the Beatles, lawyer felt it was an insult to the Beatles, the, the way, the lyric was given. And they said the capital who of course, was distributing the Beatles here in the United States, said, you’ve got a choice. You want the Beatles, or perhaps, you know, as vocabulary, we’ll take the Beatles, you know?
And so they said, we’ll get this record off the air, you know? And so they did. And that was the last and that’s all Glen Lawson, I think sued Capitol records or something. I, at one time I read about that, but that was the last I saw of Glen Lawson for 10 years until his office called me up. And the reason they called is because he was so sick of all the composers that he was using on, on, the name of the game and not naming game, it takes a thief and also McLeod.
that he wanted somebody new. So we asked the music editor, do you know any composers? And he said, Oh, I just did a thing with Stu Phillips. He said, over 20th century Fox, he says it really good compliments of Stu Phillips. I know him, you know, he says, I think I know him from Capitol records. He says, yeah, that’s the guy.
So, he said, Oh great. He says, okay. So they booked me up or something and called me. And, I went in and met with Glen and he said, he’s got this pilot called the $6 million man, which was of course is the third version of the pilot. But, they’ve done two other ones with deal Molay and, and, somebody else.
And so we did the pilot and Glen sold it. And the network bought it and picked it up. And Glen never did an episode of the show, which I don’t know why. And I, here I was, I said, Oh my God, I’m going to have a, you know, great hit show. this thing’s going to be a smash and, and all, Glen says, well, I’m not doing the show.
Oh man. I had to do this day. I had no reason whether universal didn’t want to do the show or he didn’t want to do the show, but he said, listen, I feel bad about it still. You work for so hot on this. So he says, how about you do some McLeod’s? He says, I don’t have a regular composer on that. He says, and I hate most of the guys I’m using that.
They give me, so he says, I’m going to. Give you that show? I said, well fine. Great. So I, that’s how I kind of started in with Glen doing McLeod. And then, and then we, he got switch and then went on, would non wouldn’t onward. And, but it was always his feeling that, he, he earnestly felt, he contributed by saying things to me.
You know, right. But basically new that there was a lot of money and yeah. And, and having 50% of the, you know, of the BMI money. And then when we got the Fox, he actually got 50% of the publishing from Fox. So he was not only sticking his name on it. He was getting 50% of the publishing, you know, Hey, it’s the way the business goes.
It’s called, it’s called making a living. It’s called living in show business, which unfortunately, which unfortunately, a lot of the people in this industry in the last 10 years don’t understand. They don’t understand what show businesses. They don’t understand what doing, working in this businesses like
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I hear components, say things. I’m not saying, what are you crazy? Yeah. I said back in 1939 Bechstein I had the same problem. You know, you about to cry now about your, this or that, or you did get hit all like. Discover the fact that your industry didn’t start the day that you got into it, you know, it’s been here a long time anyway, I’m sorry.
Paul Alves: No emotive way. he motivates us to,
know about 10 years after night writer, you know, came and gone. Yeah. You got an award for, and I’m just going to do a little demonstration here. And I’m not, not bull crap. You know, I’m going to bring my phone up to the microphone here. Give me a second. And I’m gonna play my, my ring tone that I’ve had for about 15 years
might sound familiar.
Stu Phillips: Yeah, it does.
Paul Alves: I’m told that I’m not the most original guy. That many people have had this ringtone on their phone since like the nineties, when they had like a flip phones and Motorola, you know, the big, phones that were the size of a brick. I I’m told that, it was quite popular.
Stu Phillips: Yeah, well, it was when ringtone suddenly became this big thing, BMI, decided to have a category and gave out an award for the most ring tones. And, I had a million. Things. And so did Lalo Schifrin have a million? So we both, I got it. I’m looking at it picture on the wall of my office right now of Lalo, Schifrin of myself, both getting an award.
He for mission impossible, obviously. And, and me for Knight rider from BMI for, more than a million, Re requests or whatever you downloads or whatever of, of the themes. So, yes, I think it was more than 10 years old. After
10 years was 92. And then, then it was, it was after that. I’m sure it was in the two thousands early, early, early
Paul Alves: a wonderful theme song, I think, One of the most classic. I got to tell you a stew in the nineties, late nineties or mid nineties. I graduated high school and the high school dance. And your theme or an extended version was still being danced
Stu Phillips: to you’re kidding.
Paul Alves: Yes. On ironically. The other DJs would spin up a record. You know, one of the LPs, a long playing record, they bring out a remix and this was before the internet and all that. And, and these, these DJs had records of the Nightrider theme and we were bopping to it and we were dancing to it. This is, I’m talking about 93.
Stu Phillips: That’s the first for me. I ever heard anybody dancing to it.
Paul Alves: Oh my Lord. Yes. And I mean, there’s been recent remixes with. Indian DJs, you know, re remixing it and whatever.
Stu Phillips: Oh God. Yeah. I I’ve, I’ve made more money. I’ve made more money on the rap artists and hip hop artists using it on their record sampling and on their records that they probably did writing whole thing and doing a whole series,
Paul Alves: I think.
Yeah. I can still dance to it today. My friend, I can still dance. It’s a classic. I, I honestly, if, if you’re making, if you were a producer right now, listening, If you were the producer for the new night writer movie, that’s in production right now. If you do not use two Phillips theme, I’m going to change the channel.
Just like I did in 2008, I’m going to change the channel.
Stu Phillips: Yeah. The producer of that thing is kind of a big man right now. Cause he’s had a little success in a few projects. So, I, I’m not sure I want to, try to contact him and say, Hey,
Paul Alves: but you know, I’ll tell him right now, if you’re going to do the same thing that
Stu Phillips: they did
Paul Alves: in 2008, if they, if you’re not going to use the Stu Phillips theme or at least a very close iteration, then a it’s going to be just like 2008.
We’re going to tune out.
Stu Phillips: Yeah. Well, it depends on who they are. It depends on who they hire to do a, through the score.
Paul Alves: I hope they hire mr. Stu Phillips.
Stu Phillips: You know,
Paul Alves: I, it sounds like you still have some gas in the tank. My friend,
Stu Phillips: Oh, I got gas in the tank, but you know what? I don’t think I want to work their style and, now yeah, they, that their, their style now is they want to hear every note you write every day and you kind of sample it.
You gotta make mock ups up and they have to here. I never made a mockup up my whole life and TV never made a mockup.
Paul Alves: I just hope that that new movie does use an iteration. Of your theme. Cause it is a timeless
Stu Phillips: would, it would be nice. I would love it. I think it would be great. I think it belongs not because of me or what I might make or say anything like that.
I just think the, the Knight Rider name and the Knight Rider theme belong together and you know, it’s yeah, it depends on who they, And who they get to who might say, yeah, I w I want to write a new theme. Yeah. You know, you know, there’s a little, little quick story. When I was old, after working at universal with Glen and he left universal, went to Fox and I went there.
He wanted me to go to Fox, to do fall guy with them. And. And so I had to leave night, right? Rider, actually, I had, I did the 12 episodes and then I couldn’t do anymore because he wanted me over at 20th century Fox. And, about a year later, I went back to universal to say hello to my friend in the library, ruined costal.
And he said, you know, there’s a rumor going around that, that, Don peak is gonna write a new theme for Knight Rider. And I said, really. So I said, and he said, I thought you might like to know. So I said, yeah, thanks. So I picked up the phone right there in the music library and called Glenn Fox. And I said to Glen, there’s a talk here about, they want to replace the nitrite, a theme with Don.
Pete wants to write a new one. And, and Glen said over my dead body and he said, I’ll call the network. So he called the network and the next thing I knew. about two days later, I got a call from my friend in the library there and he said, guess what’s though. He says what? He said there ain’t gonna be no new night, write a scene.
He said, sure. The network came down and said, you changed that theme. You bet. If you were dropping the show,
Paul Alves: right.
Stu Phillips: No seriously. He said that was Erwin cost. Who is the name of the, librarian? He said, yeah. And he was a kind of guy who knew everything that was going on in the studio, musically, everything, he had his ear on everybody’s wall.
It was like the fly on the wall and everybody’s office. And he said, Oh yeah, he said, the network came in and said, told Eric, Duffield no way. He says you’ve changed the theme. You lose the show.
Paul Alves: Amen
Stu Phillips: stew. Yeah. Well, I see now that case and that case, it helped that Glen loss, his name was on it.
Paul Alves: That’s right.
Stu Phillips: Blood loss, his name wasn’t on that. He might’ve said, well, you know what the hell they want to change it. They want to change it. But this was an insult to him. He physically wanted, I know that worked out good. Well, we would have added new dogs.
Paul Alves: It would not have been the same without your theme. My friend.
Stu Phillips: Well, thank you very much. You know, your, your, all that it’s complementing everything else is going to go to my head.
Paul Alves: No, no. I mean, it, I mean a 100%. And if you listen to the rest of our podcasts, believe me, we’re going to talk about that a lot that the theme really had a lot to do with its success. And, it really, it is night writer.
I mean, it cert Jimmy is still with us.
Sir Jimmy: No, sir. Jimmy. Yeah.
Stu Phillips: quiet in North Carolina.
Sir Jimmy: You know, we have earthquake about a month ago.
Paul Alves: Yeah. Well the
Stu Phillips: earthquake in North Carolina.
Sir Jimmy: Yeah. It was kind of weird. I was on the couch and it vibrated.
Stu Phillips: Wow.
Sir Jimmy: She’s great. Yeah.
Stu Phillips: Yeah. That’s not really. Yeah. That’s not really earthquake country. Oh,
Sir Jimmy: it’s not, it’s not. So getting back online.
Paul Alves: Jim
Stu Phillips: what’s up next? What are we talking about next,
Paul Alves: Jimmy, you want to tell us, do you, what do you told me about when you and your wife want to drive fast? What do you do?
Stu Phillips: Well, it’s,
Sir Jimmy: it’s one of the one that drive fast
Stu Phillips: or
Sir Jimmy: the trash truck is coming to pick up the garbage at the end of the street. And somebody has to like run out.
And throw on like a robe and pull it out to the end. The other person will like
something’s gotta be done quick.
Paul Alves: Whenever something has to be done quick of
Stu Phillips: Carolina.
Sir Jimmy: Yes. It builds. It builds sometimes. Well, if it was night rider, every time you would get the trash there just in time, like 90% of the time, it works every
Paul Alves: time. Okay, thank you. Excuse you for joining us. We love the theme.
We think it should be on every Knight Rider, property period. and I don’t think a night rider property can be successful without that theme. Thank you for your
Stu Phillips: time, sir. Thank you for your, thank you for your lovely comments. And thank you for talking to me and putting up with my, whole, my, side side thoughts and everything.
Sir Jimmy: love. It’s
Stu Phillips: a
Sir Jimmy: true
Stu Phillips: honor. Okay, well, thank you. Thank you again. I can’t say thank you enough time.