Gary Portnoy (born June 1956) is an American musician and singer-songwriter from the state of New York best known for co-writing and singing the theme song for Cheers, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name". In addition to co-writing both songs with Judy Hart Angelo, the two also co-authored the theme to the long-running television series, Mr. Belvedere.
In the early 1980s, Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo were composing the score to an off-Broadway musical, Preppies, when Glen and Les Charles – two of the producers for Cheers – heard their opening number, People Like Us, but were unable to acquire the rights to the song from the musical's producers. Portnoy and Angelo then set out to write an entirely new theme for Cheers. After their first two attempts were rejected, Where Everybody Knows Your Name was finally selected as the sitcom's theme song.
Prior to writing the theme for Cheers, Portnoy had already found success as a young yet highly regarded songwriter. His songs had been recorded by various popular artists including Dolly Parton'sSay Goodnight (co-written by Susan Sheridan) and Air Supply'sI'll Never Get Enough of You (co-written by Jeanne Napoli and Judy Quay). He also recorded and released a self-titled album in 1980 for Columbia Records which has since been re-released on digital CD by Sony Japan. In addition, he also wrote, with Judy Hart Angelo, the theme song to the NBC family sitcom Punky Brewster (The name of the song was called "Everytime I Turn Around"). He actually sang the song, which was played at the beginning of every Punky Brewster episode, as an intro.
Portnoy also wrote several songs for the critically acclaimed NBC television series, Fame, including the Emmy-nominated track for Best Original Song entitled I Still Believe In Me (co-written by Susan Sheridan) as well as It's Gonna Be a Long Night (co-written by Estelle Levitt). Both songs were featured on the 1982 album, The Kids From "Fame". In addition to the Emmy nomination for the Fame composition, Portnoy also received an Emmy nomination for Cheers as well as six consecutive ASCAP awards during the 1980s for the Most Performed Television Themes of the year.
In 2004 – after an extensive hiatus from the music business during the 1990s, Portnoy released the 12-track album entitled Keeper which includes the original full-length version of the Cheers theme song, Where Everybody Knows Your Name. (At that time the song was also made available for downloading at iTunes.) In 2007, he followed with the release of the autobiographical 12-track album, Destiny, which contains a full-length version of him singing the TV theme song for Mr. Belvedere (whose original version was sung by Leon Redbone.) In 2010, Portnoy released the 12-track album, Songs Along The Way, which includes 11 newly penned compositions as well as the original never-before-released demo version of the iconic Cheers theme song.
Gary Portnoy's Official website- includes a video history "Outside Cheers" that showcases the life of "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" beyond the series. There is also a detailed, biographical account of the story behind the Cheers theme (including audio recordings of rejected earlier efforts), the original demo recording, and full lyrics.