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Theme from S.W.A.T.

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"Theme from S.W.A.T."
Single by Rhythm Heritage
from the album Disco-Fied
B-side"I Wouldn't Treat a Dog (The Way You Treated Me)"
ReleasedNovember 1975
Songwriter(s)Barry De Vorzon
Producer(s)Michael Omartian, Steve Barri
Rhythm Heritage singles chronology
"Theme from S.W.A.T."
"Baretta's Theme (Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow)"

"Theme from S.W.A.T." is an instrumental song written by Barry De Vorzon and performed by American funk group Rhythm Heritage, released on their debut album Disco-Fied. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the United States on the chart date of February 28, 1976.

As the title implies, it was the opening theme music for the 1970s American television series S.W.A.T., though it is a noticeably different recording from the actual TV theme version, which was performed not by Rhythm Heritage, but by Barry De Vorzon's own orchestra with arrangement by Dominik Hauser. The theme song was also referenced by characters in the 2003 motion picture of the same name, who mouth the notes during a party to celebrate their successful completion of the training course. De Vorzon's original was eventually released on the LP Nadia's Theme on Arista records.

It remains one of a handful of TV themes to top the Billboard Hot 100, a list that includes "Welcome Back" by John Sebastian, "Miami Vice Theme" by Jan Hammer and "How Do You Talk to an Angel" by The Heights.

Chart history[edit]

Covers and use in sampling[edit]

  • In Canada, the THP Orchestra's disco version of the song reached number one on the RPM pop chart the same year as the US version.
  • In 1987, rapper and actor LL Cool J sampled the song for his single "I'm Bad" from his album Bigger and Deffer. LL Cool J also later starred in the 2003 film version of S.W.A.T.
  • In 1994, S.W.A.T. released a version titled "Theme From SWAT"— sung by Jerry A. of Poison Idea, with sampled LAPD radio broadcasts from the April 1992 riots— on their album Deep Inside: A Cop's Mind.[13][14]
  • In 2003, Rap group Hot Action Cop used the song as template for a song titled "Samuel Jackson" which was used as the theme to the film adaptation of S.W.A.T., starring Samuel L. Jackson.
  • In 2011, a remix version of the song was performed by composer John Paesano, appeared in the opening credits of S.W.A.T.: Firefight.
  • In 2017, a remake of the song was performed by Robert Duncan in the CBS television series of the same name.
  • In 1976 Ray Conniff and his orchestra had mild success with their cover of "The Theme from SWAT" on Columbia Records.
  • In 1990 the Italian DJ and Producer Piero Fidelfatti, sampled a part of the main theme and made a house version of "Theme From S.W.A.T." (Magic Service/Discomagic MS001)
  • In 1991 the rap group 3rd Bass sampled the instrumental in a remixed version of their song "3rd Bass Theme a.k.a. Portrait of the Artist as a Hood" on Def Jam Recordings.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Breihan, Tom (August 26, 2019). "The Number Ones: Rhythm Heritage's "Theme From S.W.A.T."". Stereogum. Retrieved June 28, 2023. If anything, they slowed the theme down a bit, setting it to a disco-funk tempo.
  2. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 250. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  3. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  4. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1976-02-07. Retrieved 2017-12-04.
  5. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  6. ^ "Rhythm Heritage Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  7. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles, February 28, 1976". Archived from the original on October 20, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  8. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 26, No. 14 & 15, January 08 1977". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on March 19, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  9. ^ Musicoutfitters.com
  10. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs - Year End (1976)". Billboard.com. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 4 April 2023.
  11. ^ Top 50 Adult Contemporary Hits of 1976
  12. ^ "Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 25, 1976". Archived from the original on October 20, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  13. ^ "Deep Inside a Cop's Mind — S.W.A.T." AllMusic. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  14. ^ "S.W.A.T. — Deep Inside A Cop's Mind". Discogs. Retrieved 3 May 2020.