‘Zowie! Trailer Theme’

Mirroring corny Sixties TV music

By Mark Voger, author
‘Zowie! The TV Superhero Craze in ’60s Pop Culture’


All I knew going in was that the “Zowie!” trailer jingle had to be a ripoff. Specifically, of Neal Hefti’s surf-rock-influenced opening theme for “Batman,” the TV phenomenon that dominated popular culture between 1966 and ’68. You know the tune. We all do.

Here’s all one-minute-and-56-seconds of the jingle:


As I worked with the Hefti-esque riff, the other sections kind of presented themselves. I can’t say I “composed” the jingle, really. It’s extremely derivative. Anyone who grew up watching TV in the Sixties would recognize the motifs.

My brother, producer-bassist Brian Voger, and I spent an entire day, morning-into-late-night, recording the piece. We didn’t try to pull a “soundalike” on the ripoff riffs, obviously. It comes off as rougher and sleepier. You know what we’re getting at, but it isn’t actionable.

Composer-arranger Neal Hefti did a good thing in ’66.

When the jingle goes into the groovy, jazzy section, I was picturing Adam West dancing with Jill St. John in Season 1, Episode 1. I can’t play the organ that fluidly; my brother and I used a technique we call “A-B-ing” it. (It’s nothing new.) Playing one little riff at a time (but having the whole piece in my noggin), I record one riff on Track A, then another on Track B, etc. Before you know it, it sounds like a guy who can kind of play the organ.

The third motif is more corny Sixties silliness. Sounds like something you’d hear in a Frankie-and-Annette flick. My brother found a keyboard sound named “Child in Time” that sounds exactly like the electric piano Jon Lord plays in the 1970 Deep Purple song of the same title. That’s what we used here. It sounds good ‘n’ punchy.

Then back to Hefti-land with more references to that theme. The piece is book-ended by clips of Cesar Romero as the Joker and Burt Ward as Robin (both short enough to, again, avoid any messiness).

The jingle, plus a mess of excerpts from “Zowie!” and pertinent video clips, are now in the hands of the talented filmmaker — Brian’s son, Ian Voglesong — who will put it all into final form. (I’ve seen a preview, and it may be his best trailer yet. Verrrry psyched.) Please stay tuned!

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VIDEO: Dig those crazy Bat-moves!