His collaboration with Mike Post, which began in 1968, lasted until Carpenter's death. The two saw some success when they wrote the theme for producer Stephen J. Cannell's first show, the police detective drama Toma in 1973. But their big breakthrough was the top 10 Billboard hit and Grammy Award-winning theme for Cannell's private detective drama The Rockford Files in 1974, starring James Garner.
Film and Television Works
They went on to score over 1800 hours of television, and compose the music for both television shows like CHiPs (1977), Magnum, P.I. (1980), Tenspeed and Brown Shoe (1980), The A-Team (1983), Hardcastle and McCormick (1983), Riptide (1984), Hunter (1984), Stingray (1985), and movies like Vanishing Point (1971), Rabbit Test (1978), and Will: G. Gordon Liddy (1982). In addition to their 1975 Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement for Rockford, for Hunter the duo won a Broadcast Music Incorporated TV Music Award in 1989.
The theme for the A-Team and The Rockford Files have also made appearances on other television programs and movies, including the pilot for David Chase's hit show on HBO, The Sopranos (1999), and the films Not Another Teen Movie (2001), Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (2003), Napoleon Dynamite (2004), and Miracle (2004).
He was married to actress Maybeth Carr; they had two children, Pete, Jr., and Nancy. He lived with his wife in Valley Village, California and died, aged 73, on October 15, 1987 of lung cancer. In 1989, Mike Post and the BMI Foundation established a Pete Carpenter Memorial Fund to benefit young composers.