When you cast your mind back to your favorite shows as a kid growing up in the '80s and/or '90s, what's the first memory that pops into your head?
Is it the excitement and action of watching your favorite heroes duke it out against their most dastardly adversaries, or was it the iconic theme tunes that screamed the promise of sweaty and colorful afternoon adventures through varying mystical lands or crime riddled urban cityscapes?
If you thought the latter then you've come to the right place, because there is one unsung hero of our childhoods, that crafted the theme tunes to a plethora of the most iconic animated and live-action series' of our youth, and you may never have even heard of him.
From as early as 1981's Ulysses 31 right up to Digimon in 1999, Shuki Levy, and his co-created Saban Entertainment brand, has literally been the orchestrator of decades of joy.
Who Is Shuki Levy?
The Israel-born American award-winning music composer, executive producer, television writer and director found a love of music back in the early sixties after teaching himself to play guitar.
At the age of fourteen he formed one of Israel's very first rock bands, leaving later in 1975 to team up with Israeli actress Aviva Paz to form the, now world renowned, pop group Shuki and Aviva.
At the height of the pair's success, Levy decided to leave and move to the United States in order to pursue a career in composing, which turned out to be an apt move as he fell into a partnership with long time friend and business partner Haim Saban.
Together they created the famous Saban Entertainment production company and a cavalcade of iconic children's programmes including 1993's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!.
So Much Work
Levy currently holds the Guinness World Record for composing the most television theme songs - 130. 130! And the list of series and TV movies he has been involved with is seriously bewildering:
Levy's first break came after scoring the anime Time Bokan, but it wasn't until the early '80s that Levy saw true success through composing. Through the decade, he would go on to score 40 different programs including:
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors
To name but a few. Other noteworthy examples of his work include Pole Position, The Real Ghostbusters, RoboCop: The Animated Series and Captain N: The Game Master. Keep an ear out for the change in musical influence. Did you notice that the '80s themes had a real disco kind of vibe about them?
If you thought Levi's work through the '80s was impressive, you'd better get your hat ready for tipping! The majority of Levi's most iconic work came in this great decade of kid's entertainment, with shows such as:
Samurai Pizza Cats
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Sweet Valley High
and Dragon Ball Z
Other poignant works of Levy's come in the tones of Creepy Crawlers, VR Troopers, Masked Rider, The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man Unlimited. Also, did you notice the change in style to a more rock based, shredding and solo styled sound? Totally rad!
'00s to Today
After scoring the Saban licensed anime Shinzo in 2000, Levy went on a decade long hiatus from the business to work on something closer to his heart, and the results are wholeheartedly profound.
In Israel sits the Masada mountain, a place steeped in history that overlooks the Dead Sea. In an interview with TIME magazine, Levy opens up about the UNESCO World Heritage site:
The Romans built a camp up there in 73 AD. They controlled the country and enslaved everybody, but 960 people from Galilee totally refused to pay the taxes and become slaves and traveled all the way to this mountain.
To make a long story short, for two years, the Romans couldn’t reach the top and then spent two years building a ramp to the top. Finally, the Romans came at dawn, so the 960 people took their own lives.
Levy was so moved by this thrilling tale, he became personally involved with the building of a museum to honor the 960 Sicarii rebels and their families who perished, paying for its construction out of his own pocket, and even writing a theatrical musical about Masada which ran in London, England for a short time.
Now, Levy is making his return to TV with Tribe of the Wild, a show about 5 teenagers who are abducted by aliens:
It is not similar to Power Rangers, it is more about sci-fi adventures and deals with technology issues like mind control, all while being very colorful.
Principal photography apparently wrapped at the end of 2013, and little has been heard about it since. Here's hoping it reaches our TVs soon!
What A Guy!
Shuki Levy has most certainly had a very interesting life, which sounds like a huge understatement when I look back over this. In his time at the top he has amassed 15 gold and platinum records and has seen sales reach above and beyond 14 million units!
All that on top of creating memories for countless children, teenagers and adults across the world, is some feat, I tell you.
A salute to you then, Mr. Levy! Thank you for filling my childhood with brilliant moments in front of the TV. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't be writing right now! And that's an insane thought...