An Overview of the Official ‘Airwolf’ music soundtrack score
AIRWOLF THEMES 2CD
‘AIRWOLF THEMES’ is a 2CD soundtrack album score, later joined by the sequel EP called 'AIRWOLF MAIN THEMES' EP with a further 2CD official sequel called 'AIRWOLF EXTENDED THEMES' for the high-flying, mid 1980s, American, action adventure, television series called 'Airwolf' (1984-1986) which starred Jan-Michael Vincent, Ernest Borgnine, Alex Cord, Jean Bruce Scott and Deborah Pratt.
Features of the 1999 music score - ‘Airwolf Themes’ 2CD
SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION SOUNDTRACK 2CD SET OF 1000 UNITS ONLY - SOLD OUT IN 2002!
25 Tracks of officialy-licensed music score based on the Airwolf™ TV Series.
- • Stereo sound.
- • 2CD Set – Special Limited Edition.
- • Slimline Jewel Case design.
- • 20-page Cover Booklet including exclusive interview with main Airwolf™ composer, SYLVESTER LEVAY.
- • Booklet contained rare and exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos.
- • Music highlighted the work of Airwolf™ Composers, SYLVESTER LEVAY, IAN FREEBAIRN-SMITH and UDI HARPAZ.
- • “CD1” contained 22 Airwolf Main Theme & Episodic music tracks produced by ‘Airwolf Themes’ Creator & Producer, MARK J. CAIRNS.
- • “Special Bonus CD2” contained 3 newly-recorded Orchestral & Synth music tracks, conducted and produced by main Airwolf™ composer,
SYLVESTER LEVAY, in conjunction with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra.
- • 1000 copies only - SOLD OUT! (re-released in 2007 as remastered digital downloads only)
The Music Of Airwolf
Airwolf was a show that concerned an iconic, shark-like, supersonic, military helicopter, codenamed AIRWOLF (or known affectionately as 'The Lady' by the characters on the show ) and her crew as they undertook various missions, many involving espionage, with a Cold War theme. The series ran for 55 episodes on CBS in the United States in 1984 through 1986, and an additional 24 episodes (called 'AIRWOLF II' aka Season 4), created by a new Canadian cast and production company, aired on the USA Network in 1987, for a total of 79 episodes.
But it was the amazing music on Airwolf, composed by Sylvester Levay and Udi Harpaz, that has stayed with the show's fans to this day and especially the memorable main theme tune used in both the opening and closing title sequences and during the aerial battle scenes between the real-life aircraft used on the show, which to many people nowadays symbolizes anything to do with helicopters!
When that iconic Main Theme Tune [internal link to one of the MP3 Teasers] song kicks in, you just know a baddie is going to get it -- from that Blackbird of Death Amalgam of Lone Ranger, Mighty Mouse and God! Airwolf.
Tune of the Week approach
What made the episodic music so different to other peer television shows of its day like 'Knight Rider' was that both composers, Sylvester Levay and Udi Harpaz (and the other stand-in composers Ian Freebairn-Smith and Bernard Segáll) [internal link to their anchors] utilized a more "tune-of-the-week" approach to their episodic scoring for Airwolf's music score (used in addition to the show's Main Theme Tune every week) rather than the bland, background, orchestral music score traditional to shows of the 1970s + 1980s by their contemporaries, that today are very difficult to listen to the music in their own right without all the dialogue, visuals and foley sound effects layered on top.
The Helicopter Theme
Airwolf's legacy is that the music, and especially the Airwolf Main Theme Tune stands out simply due to that so-called, tune-of-the-week approach to the music score which transports you to specific scenes, in specific locations, in specific Airwolf episodes, from specific seasons of the show – giving a very unique selling point and quality that makes these collections of Airwolf Themes, especially 'Airwolf Extended Themes' or 'Airwolf Main Themes EP' such an enjoyable escape to both synthesizer and orchestral music aficionados. The Main Theme song itself really is a piece of iconic music that has transcended above its original intention and stood the test of time by being known by millions of people around the world, both young and old, as the traditional tune (compared to 'Blue Thunder') to sum up the entire, high-flying world of helicopters and some will even say, some of the greatest synthesiser music ever created, especially from the pioneering days of the mid-1980s.
Original ‘AIRWOLF THEMES’ Soundtrack's Creation History & Overview
The soundtrack was created over a five year period by "Airwolf" fan, Northern Ireland-based graphic designer, Mark J. Cairns in collaboration with original composer Sylvester Levay, with a Foreword by the TV series' creator, Donald P. Bellisario (Tales Of The Gold Monkey, Magnum P.I., Quantum Leap, J.A.G., N.C.I.S.).
The Soundtrack's creation history
After the original CBS series was cancelled in 1986, Mark J.Cairns was head of the International Airwolf Appreciation Association for nearly 10 years (from 1988-1998) so he had an in-depth knowledge of the series including its music cues and the show's soundtrack. There had been other cover versions of the distinctive Levay-penned Main Theme Tune over the years but these tended to be quite different from the sound and feel of the original soundtrack score on the show. Due to various licensing and technical issues at the time, Cairns decided in early 1994 to produce his own high-quality music soundtrack for the series using the episodic scores from the first three seasons of the show to create the first 22 synthesizer-based tracks on the original, official music soundtrack, including various medleys, character themes and variations of the show's Main Theme Tune Song. This was produced entirely by ear on Yamaha SY77 and Korg synthesizers (amongst other high-end synth kit) and sequenced via MOTU FreeStyle on an Apple PowerMac computer.
Finding original Airwolf composer, Sylvester Levay
But by early 1997, Cairns had felt there was something lacking in the production - the mainly orchestral music themes, so a search was made (in the very early days of the Internet) for both the show's two main original composers, Sylvester Levay and Udi Harpaz. Levay had left Hollywood in the early nineties to move to Germany and Harpaz had moved back to Israel, so tracking them down had proven difficult to this point (again it was the early days of the Internet without Google, Facebook etc.) until Cairns found a remote, on-line discussion fan forum for the first of Levay's musicals, 'Elisabeth', allowing him and fellow producer, Gerry R. Forrester to finally make initial contact.
They subsequently contracted Levay to create three special bonus music medleys which would be mainly orchestral-based soundtrack scores, composed and arranged from his character-driven 1st Season works from the Airwolf series. Levay then used the 80-piece Munich Philharmonic orchestra during a recording session on 29th November, 1998 at SL Studios in Neuhausen, Germany. The tracks were subsequently mastered by Bernie Grundman in Hollywood, California (the engineer responsible for Michael Jackson's best-selling album of all time, 'Thriller' and later Bad'). Cairns' CD1 was engineered and mastered by Frankie McClay at Einstein Studios in Antrim, Northern Ireland.
Airwolf Themes: 2CD Special Limited Edition Soundtrack Score
Once production of the two separate CDs was completed, including a 20-page liner booklet containing an exclusive Sylvester Levay interview, the 'Airwolf Themes: 2CD Special Limited Edition' finally shipped during February 1999 to those who had reserved them six months beforehand, mostly Airwolf Appreciation Association' members although afterwards remaining copies shipped to many other countries purely from direct sales over the internet. Only 1000 copies were ever made.
World Record Soundtrack Score CD with that eBay phenomena
By the turn of the Millennium the 'AIRWOLF THEMES: 2CD Special Limited Edition' music soundtrack score had become very collectible, gaining regular eBay bids (being sold by people who'd reserved and bought more than one copy) in the region of $350 - $510 per set. On the 18th March, 2000 the bids culminated in a new world record for a television soundtrack when a set sold for $715.03 on eBay.
This was subsequently broken on 25th March, 2004 when a Washington-based seller sold his spare 2CD set for $765.03, and then for a third time $981.74 on the 10th March, 2006 remaining the 'Most Expensive Television Soundtrack of all Time'. Even with the advent of the cliquey, in-the-know generation, now growing up in the underground world of theft that are Torrents downloads and File Sharing sites, as well as the intellectual property theft by one or two unscrupulous soundtrack sellers who live in California, USA and Argentina (we know who you are and we're watching you!) who manufactured their own low-quality, counterfeit, pirate copies of the 2CD soundtrack score and tried to flood the market with cheap rip-offs -- see our Piracy section for more details of the counterfeit versions -- even with the negativity of all of this, the 2CD Special Limited Edition Soundtrack score is still popular via our newly-remastered official Digital Music Downloads, which will be available again in the future from the original music artists, Mark J.Cairns, Sylvester Levay and Jan Michal Szulew.
Airwolf Themes: 2007 Re-release and Remaster via DIGITAL DOWNLOADS only
During Summer 2007, Mark J. Cairns decided to re-release the original Airwolf Themes soundtrack for the new generation of digital download distributors that had emerged by the mid-noughties including iTunes, Amazon, Play, 7Digital and others.
A new digital remastering session took place back at Einstein Studios in Antrim, Northern Ireland which was a great feeling (after 8 years) as Mark again worked alongside his buddy and sound engineer, Frankie McClay. The digital technology had matured by this stage [compared to being its infancy back in 1999 when they produced Airwolf Themes with analogue 24-track 1" tape technology] and Mark felt if he didn’t do it then -- via this second chance with iTunes -- that he'd never get the chance again and would always regret it.
All 22 original CD1 tracks were remastered as 24-bit 96Khz digital masters for optimum sound-quality and a great starting point for the down-sampling to the 16-bit world of AAC and MP3. Sylvester Levay's CD2 (originally engineered by world famous sound engineer, Bernie Grundman, remained untouched).
Five tracks were also re-mixed and improved from their original analogue recordings, fixing some problems he had with those tracks including [at that time] his least-favourite track [technically] ‘DESPERATE MONDAY’.
“We did a few things to totally transform it and it now sounds wonderful, both aesthetically and acoustically. It’s amazing what one can do with audio nowadays,” Mark concluded.
The tracks that were Remixed differently to the original 1999 Airwolf Themes 2CD release were:
- • 01 - Main Theme -- 3rd Season Opening titles
- • 05 - DESPERATE MONDAY
- • 12 - HX1
- • 18 - Main Theme -- 1st Season Closing titles
- • 22 - Main Theme -- 2nd / 3rd Season Closing titles
The Airwolf Theme on your smartphone
How many of you have the Main Theme Tune song on your mobile or smartphone like an iPhone or Google Android cell phone especially? A lot of you we'd bet. Well, both the Main Themes: EP and the new 2014 2CD release have now become the defacto recordings from the series. So make sure you update your old Mono recordings that you have now, with the real thing from this website.
We'll be re-releasing both Airwolf Themes, a new Airwolf Main Themes EP, and eventually Airwolf Extended Themes onto iTunes and Amazon in the future again.