Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Interview with... Gary Portnoy

This interview was both a blessing and a curse.

Everyone knows the TV show, Cheers, right? Gary Portnoy composed the theme song.
As such by the time I'd finished Gary's interview and got his responses I had the theme stuck in my head for days.

Now, that's the makings of a good composer!
I hope you enjoy this interview. I can guarantee you, Gary will answer an age-old question, and settle a very-long running dispute.
Thanks Gary! Enjoy.

1) The Cheers theme song is known the world over. This must be a great feeling to you as a composer.

Indeed it is. For a writer it is truly a blessing to be able to create something that resonates all around the globe. I am very grateful for that!

2) What was it like composing this iconic theme?

Well, when you are composing a song you have no sense of what it might one day become. It is just another “child” that you hope will have the best life possible. I will say that I did have a deep feeling when we were working on it. But the “iconic” part can only come with time.

3) What can you tell us about your work on the theme?

On my website I have written in great detail about the “birth” of the Cheers Theme and many people have told me that they have enjoyed reading the story.

4) What other musical pieces have you worked on?

On my website, under "Gary's bio", there is a story called “One Writer’s Journey Through The Trenches Of The Music Business” and it follows my career from its very beginnings to the present time.

5) What’s coming up next for you?

Nowadays I am more into collecting mid-Century American and British Studio Pottery. But every now and then, whenever my musical muse appears, I always pay attention !!

6) It’s been a point of conjecture between my brother and I for years. You’re the only man who could possible answer this, settling a long-standing discussion. Did Woody Harrelson sing the Cheers theme song?

No. Gary Portnoy sang the Cheers theme song.

Thank you very much Gary.
Now all I can say to my brother is, "Ha! I knew I was right.
What did you think of this interview? Please comment, or email me directly at
Until next time.


  1. I just had the same debate with my husband and I LOST THANKS TO YOUR BLOG. Also, he's playing back the credits over and over to me and pausing it on the frame where it says Gary Portnoy sang the song. Still, I maintain that you, the credits, and Gary Portnoy himself are wrong, and really Woody Harrelson stepped into the recording booth that day, four years before he was cast in the show, and sang a heartfelt and touching rendition of the theme song that producers found far superior to Portnoy's version, and thus they substituted it and gave Gary credit to placate his lawyers.

    P.S. Bono would have done it better.

  2. I contend that Woody sang it for one episode. It was the only time I heard the different voice, and it was very definitely different from Portnoy's version. I feel VERY certain of it, but there is no way to prove it of course. :-)