Top of the Pops theme tune

In an obituary for one of Pan\’s People, we find this:

And they came to be as synonymous with the much-loved chart show as cigar-chomping Jimmy Savile and the pounding Led Zeppelin theme tune.

Ah, no, the theme tune wasn\’t Led Zep. It was a reworking of a reworking. CCS had reworked it, then it was done again each week for the show.

Both CCS and the ToTP orchestra were roughly the collection of all the decent session musicians in London at the time. Alexis Korner, Alan Parker, Herbie Flowers…..not sure if it actually happened but it\’s possible that, for example, Herbie was playing on the theme tune, then in the orchestra, while also being a member of T-Rex on the stage and (well, unfortunately not, for he\’d left T-Rex by this point) also being the writer and producer of the Clive Dunn song that kept T-Rex off the No 1 spot.

For, it wasn\’t actually the records that were played, but recreations of them by that ToTP orchestra, or specially recorded versions:

Initially acts performing on the show mimed to the commercially released record, but in July 1966 — just after the show had been moved to London — and after discussions with the Musicians\’ Union, miming was banned. After a few weeks during which some bands\’ attempts to play as well as on their records were somewhat lacking, a compromise was reached whereby a specially recorded backing track was permitted — as long as all the musicians on the track were present in the studio. The TOTP Orchestra, led by Johnny Pearson augmented the tracks when necessary.

Union rules, don\’tcha just lov\’em?

5 comments on “Top of the Pops theme tune

  1. …and after discussions with the Musicians’ Union, miming was banned. After a few weeks during which some bands’ attempts to play as well as on their records…

    Tha’s brilliant! Our members are not allowed to mime, instead they have to perform live, where they will sound shit.

    Tim adds: Oooh, tsk, no!

    The session musicians were union members: band members were not. Thus the insistence that the band either played live or the union members (who could actually read muusic etc) did it for them.

  2. Lets give a nod of appreciation to Johnny Pearson, who died on March 20th, and who was responsible (although almost unknown to the general public) for much of the ‘sound’ of the sixties, seventies, and eighties. His performances, arrangements, and compositions were on records, radio, and TV, throughout those decades.

  3. Two things:

    Jimmy Page HATED the version

    The first excerpt from the obit (or a close version of ) can also be found in the “Daily Telegraph”

  4. “Both CCS and the ToTP orchestra were roughly the collection of all the decent session musicians in London at the time. “

    Er…

    http://www.alwynwturner.com/glitter/totp.html

    “Tina Charles:
    It was a nightmare. You had to use the terrible band that they had – they should have been pensioned off years ago – and you had the kind of musicians who had no feel, all they were doing was reading the notes. And they couldn’t give a shit. They were in the pub from one to three, and they’d come back in and read the notes. Once I had to do ‘Dance Little Lady’ and it was twice the speed, and I couldn’t stop, because I thought: well, if I stop I’ll be classed as being an awkward artist. I actually did it that way and it went out that way. Which was silly really, I should have stopped it.”

    So, a strangely appreciative post by Tim of a closed shop really.

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