What is Mike Post’s Net Worth?
Mike Post is a composer and record producer who has a net worth of $75 million. Mike Post is best known for his prolific career creating television theme music, including for such popular shows as “Law & Order,” “The A-Team,” “L.A. Law,” “Hill Street Blues,” and “The Rockford Files,” among many others. Post also produced Mason Williams’s hit single “Classical Gas” and produced albums for Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, and Van Halen.
“Dun Dun” Earnings
One of the most incredible financial anecdotes in Hollywood history involves the now-famous “dun dun” sound that has become a signature of the “Law & Order” franchise. According to legend, one day just before the 1990 premier of the first “Law & Order,” series creator Dick Wolf called Mike Post (who had recently completed the credit sequences music) with a last minute request. As Post would later explain it:
“He called me after and he said, ‘hey look, you know those cards?’ I said “ya the location and the time stamp?’ He said, ‘I need a sound for it.’
Post initially told Wolf to get someone in the sound department to come up with what he wanted. Wolf pleaded with Post to create the sound personally:
“Can’t you come up with something? Please come up with something that’s really distinctive. You watch. It’ll end up being important.”
The final “dun dun” that is now world-famous, was created when Post mixed following sounds
- A jail cell door slamming shut
- Ahammer hitting an anvil
- Drum noises
- The sound of 100 men stomping on a wood floor
But here’s the most important and lucrative fact: Had someone from the sound department team created the sound, it would have been part of the production costs. Because Mike Post composed “dun dun”, it is technically treated as a piece of music and therefore it is subject to paying him royalties… EVERY SINGLE TIME IT PLAYS. In an interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Mike Post said:
“I call it the ‘ching ching’ because I’m making money off it.” – Mike Post
A well-placed source told me off-the-record that Mike Post has made more than $50 million during his career off “dun dun” alone.
Mike Post was born as Leland Michael Postil on September 29, 1944 in Berkeley, California and was raised in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. He got into music at a young age, and started taking piano lessons when he was six. By the age of 15, Post was playing at clubs throughout LA. For his education, he went to Grant High School. After graduating, Post gigged with a variety of rock groups and served briefly in the house band of a topless club in San Francisco. He soon formed the folk ensemble the Wellingbrook Singers and toured the US.
Post got his start in the music industry working with all manner of LA recording artists. His first major credit was cutting demos for singing sisters Terry and Carol Fischer in the early 60s. He continued working with them when they added Sally Gordon and became the group the Murmaids. In 1964, the group had its one hit single, “Popsicles and Icicles.” Also during this time, Post provided guidance to the garage rock band the Outcasts, and served as the songwriter and producer on the band’s debut single. His greatest commercial success yet came toward the end of the decade, in 1968, when he produced Mason Williams’s instrumental piece “Classical Gas.” Reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100, it also earned Post the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement.
Television Theme Music
Post is best known for his extensive work creating theme music for television shows. After serving as the musical director on “The Andy Williams Show” and penning the theme music to the short-lived ABC detective series “Toma,” he had his breakthrough in 1974 with his theme tune to the NBC detective series “The Rockford Files,” which he co-composed with Pete Carpenter. The piece went on to become a top-ten hit on the US charts and win Post another Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement. Post scored another top-ten hit – and two more Grammy Awards – for his theme to the police procedural series “Hill Street Blues” in 1981. Later that decade, he won yet another Grammy Award, this time for his theme music to the legal drama series “L.A. Law.”
At the zenith of his television career, Post was the go-to composer for all the shows created by Dick Wolf, Steven Bochco, Stephen J. Cannell, and Donald P. Bellisario. Throughout the 80s and 90s, he penned the theme music for such series as “NYPD Blue”; “Murder One”; “Hunter”; “The A-Team”; “Blossom”; “Magnum, P.I.”; “NewsRadio”; “Quantum Leap”; “Silk Stalkings”; “Wiseguy”; “Renegade”; “The Commish”; and “Hardcastle and McCormick.” He also created the theme to the “Law & Order” franchise, which includes the iconic “dun, dun” sound effect, and the theme to the ABC series “The Greatest American Hero,” which reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100. Outside of the US, Post composed music for the BBC series “Roughnecks.”
As a producer, Post produced the first three albums Kenny Rogers recorded with his group the First Edition between 1967 and 1969. Later, in 1980, he co-produced Dolly Parton’s hit album “9 to 5 and Odd Jobs,” which remained at number one on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart for ten straight weeks. Among his other credits, Post co-produced Van Halen’s successful 1998 studio album “Van Halen III.”
As part of the Mike Post Coalition in the 70s, Post released the single “Afternoon of the Rhino.” The song charted on the UK Singles Chart at number 47 in 1975. The same year, Post charted in the US with his cover of the instrumental piece “Manhattan Spiritual.” In later releases, he issued an album in 1994 entitled “Inventions from the Blue Line,” which contains a number of his best-known television themes.
The Pete Carpenter Fellowship
In 1989, Post partnered with the BMI Foundation to establish the Pete Carpenter Fellowship in honor of the late musician, who co-composed with Post on many television themes and soundtracks. Awarded annually, the Fellowship is a residency for aspiring composers in the television, film, and video game fields.
Previously, Post was married to Patty McGettigan. After they divorced, he wed Darla Eyer, with whom he has two children named Aaron and Jennifer.
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