The first Spider-Man cartoon series (ABC, 1967-70) is fondly remembered by the geekerati, not only for its low-budget thrills but for its bold, saucy, spooky music.
You know the theme song, perhaps from its many remakes and cover versions. (It’s the only song the Ramones slowed down when they covered it!)
The background music has been a lot harder to track down.
Among the reasons why:
- No soundtrack album was made at the time of the original series run.
- The series had two different production companies, one of which folded after the first season.
- The animation was produced in New York, but the soundtracks were produced in Toronto (for budget reasons).
- Nobody held onto any detailed production notes.
Fans eventually figured out that most of the music cue for seasons 2 and 3 came from KPM, a “library music” provider based in London (and now owned by the about-to-be-dismembered EMI).
Once KPM put up a website with samples of its library, these fans sorted out which tracks had been used on Spider-Man, and began to post some of them online.
But that left the season 1 background cues, composed expressly for the show by Ray Ellis and Bob Harris.
As this 2007 story on WFMU’s blog goes, some longtime fans of the show tracked down Ellis in L.A. He told them he’d left the original tapes behind when he moved from New York, but would track them down the next time he went there. Ellis died in 2000, before ever making that trip.
Other fans later reached Harris’s widow, who said she had no idea about the Spider-Man music tapes’ existence.
Not only were the original recordings a dead-end, no M&E tracks (music-and-sound-effects soundtracks, which some studios keep for foreign-language redubbing) were around either. Only the dialogue-heavy final episodes.
Dan O’Shannon, a writer-producer who’s worked on Cheers, Frasier, and Modern Family, is another of the ’60s Spider-Man‘s lifelong obsessive fans. O’Shannon’s taken it upon himself to reassemble the first-season cues.
So far he’s posted 34 tracks. He’s mixed and matched sections of the same tunes from different episodes (or different parts of the same episode) to avoid the dialogue.
O’Shannon hasn’t, however, been able (or wanted) to edit out the frequent THWIP! sound effect of Spidey’s web shooters.