Among other things, I play the guitar. I got my first acoustic at age 5. Actually, it was my brother's, but I borrowed it so often it became mine. My parents gave me my first electric guitar when I was 11 (a decision they probably regretted later) and from then on, I was hooked.
In high school and even in college, I played my guitar pretty much every day. I formed a series of bands, did the arranging, played guitar, keyboards, bass and drums, wrote contracts, and counted and distributed the money to my band mates. But I was never what I considered a "great" guitar player; I always let other guys play the fancy lead guitar parts. I eventually went on to study composition, played oboe in college and dabbled on sax and clarinet, but never stopped playing the guitar.
So when I stared to write my own music, a lot of it was guitar-based. There were certain kinds of figures that fell easily under my fingers, and I was good with rhythms. One of the first pieces I wrote - for what would become the Omni library - was a track called "Drag Racer."
"Drag Racer" is built on a pretty simple "lick" - a musical phrase that repeats itself several times during a song. I added drums, bass and acoustic guitar to the electric guitar part and mixed it together. It had energy and drive, and I thought it was cool.
A few years after we started Omni, we arranged to have our music distributed in Great Britain by a friend, John Gale. John wrote to me one day with great news: the BBC had chosen Drag Racer as the theme for one of its shows called "Snooker."
Having not the faintest clue what Snooker was, I quickly forgot about it. How was I to know that Snooker was an immensely popular sports show, and that the theme for Snooker would become practically a national anthem in England?
One of the things production music composers and publishers learn quickly is that you can never predict which track will be a "hit" with users. But today, there are literally hundreds of videos on YouTube featuring guitar players demonstrating their proficiency by playing Drag Racer. One music critic called it "the most evocative guitar riff of all time." An exaggeration, to be sure, but a nice one.
A few weeks ago, just before the fortieth anniversary of the Snooker program on the BBC, a film crew arrived in Port Washington to do a short story about the man who wrote the famous guitar theme for Snooker. My five minutes of fame.