Mary Tyler Moore’s Texas Musical Connection
Let's get this out of the way: Brooklyn-born and Los Angeles-raised Mary Tyler Moore had virtually no connection to Texas personally, professionally or otherwise. I know that sounds hard to believe given "Tyler" is her her middle name - a very Texas one - and she used all three names as would a proper lady from down south. Sorry folks, it's just not there (God gave us Carol Burnett, so we shouldn't press our luck).
Yet a very tangible part of Mary Tyler Moore's public image does have decidedly Texas roots. Yesterday, while tribute after tribute rolled on TV and online, accompanying those indelible images was a very familiar piece of music.
Sonny Curtis who wrote that song was born in the West Texas town of Meadow in 1937. Mary's theme was hardly his first foray into music.
In the mid 1950s, Sonny formed a band in Lubbock with his friend Buddy Holly. That band would evolve into The Crickets. Sonny composed one of Holly's early hits while still a teenager and played on the record...
The first rock musician to be recorded playing a Fender Stratocaster on that record, Curtis charted his own course as a songwriter for Webb Pierce, Holly and other rejoined just prior to "The Day The Music Died" in 1959 when Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash. The remaining Crickets began backing The Everly Brothers on tour and on the hits "'Til I Kissed Ya," "Walk Right Back" (which he wrote) and "When Will I Be Loved." Soon Curtis was replacing his late friend on lead vocals as The Crickets continued to record.
Among the songs he penned for the group was "I Fought The Law" which was later a smash for Bobby Fuller Four, The Clash and Green Day in different decades.
After a stint in the Army, by 1970 Curtis was pursuing a solo singer-songwriter career in Los Angeles. He had composed the song, and recorded a single of it it with fellow Texan and former Cricket Glen D. Hardin (then part of Elvis's TCB Band) arranging.
That year, he was invited to play the song for use as a potential theme. Sometimes things just go together naturally as MTM showrunner and co-creator Alan Burns tells the story:
And that is television history! They even named the pilot episode after the song.
Because of the innovative opening credits shot by Hawaii Five-O director Reza Badiyi, the song became very identifiable with Minneapolis. So much so that punk rock legends Husker Du and Joan Jett covered it. So did Sammy Davis, Jr. who loved TV themes.
In 1980, Curtis was signed to Elektra Records as a Country Artist. He had a minor hit at that time with "The Real Buddy Holly Story" which was somewhat of a rebuttal to inaccuracies in the movie The Buddy Holly Story. Certainly, there was no small amount of encouragement from the label for him to give "Love is All Around" a reprise, which he did adding some "Be My Baby" style drums. It was a country hit, becoming his second-highest charting single.
Sonny Curtis is still active at 77, touring with the Crickets and continues to be a Texas music legend.