Dragnet (theme music)

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Label from 10" 78rpm shellac version (no picture sleeve)
Single by Ray Anthony and his Orchestra
A-side Dragnet
B-side Dancing in the Dark[1]
Released 1953 (1953)
Format 10" 78rpm, 7" 45rpm
Genre Theme song, instrumental, big band
Length 2:50
Label Capitol
Writer(s) Walter Schumann
China Records 1987 UK 7" sleeve
Single by The Art of Noise
from the album In No Sense? Nonsense!
A-side Dragnet
B-side Acton Art
Released 1987 (1987)
Format 7", 12"
Genre Theme song, instrumental, dance music
Length 2:59
Label China
Writer(s) Walter Schumann
The Art of Noise chronology
"Dragnet (The '88 Mix)

"Dragnet" is an instrumental theme from the radio and television show of the same name. It was composed by Walter Schumann for the radio show, and was also used on the subsequent television series and later syndication of the TV series under the name "Badge 714". The theme is in two parts: an opening signature "Main Title" (the ominous "Dum - - - de - DUM - DUM") and the "Dragnet March" used over the end credits.

Popular chart hit versions were recorded by Ray Anthony and his Orchestra (1953) and The Art of Noise (1987).

Film and television composer Nathan Scott, who began orchestrating for Schumann beginning in 1952, later became Dragnet's second composer following Schumann's departure from the series.[2]

Songwriting controversy[edit]

After the theme became a chart hit, the publishers of the score for the 1946 film version of The Killers composed by Miklós Rózsa challenged the authorship of the copyright of the Dragnet "Main Title". They contended that Walter Schumann had visited the sound stage in 1946 when Miklós Rózsa was recording "The Killers", and so had picked up (perhaps subconsciously) the melody of a cue for that film known as "Danger Ahead". A settlement between publishers resolved the case by allowing both composers and publishers to share the royalties for the short opening signature "Main Title", which became known as "Danger Ahead" after that. The "Dragnet March" remained the exclusive composition of Schumann.

Ray Anthony version[edit]

The 1953 recording by Ray Anthony and his Orchestra sold over 500,000 copies in the US and rocketed Ray Anthony to popularity.[3] It was available as both a 45rpm 7" vinyl record and a 78rpm 10" shellac record.

It reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100[4] and spent 2 weeks in the UK chart (10 December 1953 and 14 January 1954), peaking at No. 7.[5]

The Art Of Noise version[edit]

The 1987 version by The Art of Noise was an international hit, and won the 1987 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.[6] It was used as the theme music for the 1987 film version of Dragnet based on the TV show.

A new version was released the following year, "Dragnet (The '88 Mix)".


Evan Cater for AllMusic describes the 12" as "a catchy mesh of orchestral samples, synthesized noise and clips of dialogue from the film."[7]

Chart performance[edit]

The Art of Noise version was an international hit, reaching no. 60 in the UK,[8] no. 84 in the Netherlands,[9] no. 25 in New Zealand[10] and no. 29 in Switzerland.[11] "Dragnet (The '88 Mix)", reached No. 90 in the UK.[8]

Other uses of the theme[edit]

Stanley R. Lee wrote a mystery, Dunn's Conundrum,[12] whose title sounds like the opening signature.

A parody of the theme opened the 1967 Eric Burdon and The Animals hit "San Franciscan Nights". A sample of it was used in the 1973 song "Armed and Extremely Dangerous" by First Choice.

The 2003 Dick Wolf-produced version of Dragnet used a modified version of the "Danger Ahead" theme composed by Mike Post.


External links[edit]