Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Knight Rider At 30: The Music


Any fan will tell you that the Knight Rider theme is a big part of the show's legacy. Seeing highlights of K.I.T.T. turbo boosting and crashing through walls at the beginning of each episode got our engines revving for action. Remembering the show now, it's impossible to think of those highlights or anything about the show and not hear the theme music. It wasn't just the main theme though that made Knight Rider a popular show. Composers Stu Phillips and Don Peake gave the show an awesome soundtrack for Michael and K.I.T.T.'s adventures. From high speed chases to investigating dark buildings, the musical score seemed to fit perfectly with every scene. I've managed to locate several short audio clips on Youtube to help us remember the music from the show. Let's start with the main intro that is one of the most recognized in TV history. Though the title sequence changed over each of the four seasons, the theme remained the same. Here is the intro to season 3...
But it wasn't just the intro to the show that had us intrigued. If you were like me, the ending credits were also a must watch. In season 1, there was also a monologue at the end of each episode using the main theme. We'd hear Wilson Knight's voice saying, "One man can make a difference, Michael" followed by the narrator saying "Michael Knight. A lone crusader in a dangerous world...the world of the Knight Rider." Then as the credits rolled we could hear a bit of a remix of the main theme...
Throughout the show, composer Stu Phillips would also integrate the theme into other music tracks as well. Early on in the show, the use of orchestral sounds with the main theme really seemed to engrave the tune into our young minds. Check out the following track "Hi Yo KITT" taken from the pilot episode "Knight of The Phoenix" and the original television soundtrack...
Some of the best musical scores from the show came when Michael would be "snooping around" offices and buildings in search of clues. Again early on, orchestral sounds were used with some timely percussion to give the proper ambiance...
Don Peake joined the music team in the later seasons and would introduce the signature synthesized drum beats and keyboard chords for the "snooping" scenes. This type of music is what I really remember Knight Rider being known for over the years...
The main theme has truly thrived over the past 30 years. Hip hop artists like Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Timbaland, and Lil Kim have all sampled the theme in their music. Even the heavy metal group System of a Down has used the main riff in their song "I-E-A-I-A-I-O." And speaking of heavy metal, the new Knight Rider series in 2008 thankful kept the main theme but gave it a Linkin Park attitude. Here is a fan-made opening using highlights from the new show...

So there is a look into the music of Knight Rider as we celebrate 30 years. Amazingly, you can download the original soundtrack from Amazon if you want the full experience or you can visit KnightIndustrie2000's channel on Youtube. And in case you missed it, check out the other RD80's posts on Knight Rider At 30: