Who is responsible for those brilliant lyrics about “heroes in a half shell – turtle power”?
In episode 2 of the second season of the Netflix comedy “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Ellie Kemper‘s title character makes an off-hand reference to the theme song of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and notes, “Whoever wrote that song deserves to be a billionaire.”
She then walks by a sign that reads in big letters, “Chuck Lorre wrote that song.”
And it turns out that the 63-year-old TV producer who created such hits as “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory” really did write the “Ninja Turtles” theme.
In a 2012 interview for the Archive of American TV, Lorre recalled that back in the 1980s he actively pursued opportunities in both writing scripts and music. “I wanted to do the theme song for the ‘Turtles’ the minute I heard about it,” he said. “But the original Turtles were given the job, if I recall correctly.”
But the “Happy Together” pop band bailed on the assignment and the show’s producer returned to Lorre with the last-minute job: “You have 48 hours, go.”
So Lorre boned up on the original “Ninja Turtles” comic book for inspiration. “It a was a black-and-white, garage-made comic, it was pretty primitive stuff but it was remarkable,” he recalled. “It was in-your-face outlandish.”
Since they only had about $2,000 to record a demo of the song, Lorre said, “We got a recording studio in Los Angeles … from midnight to 8 a.m., which is the cheapest hours you can buy.” But the session proved successful, yielding a tune that has survived multiple incarnations of the reptile heroes on the big and little screen.
Watch video of Lorre talking about the experience below.