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The Man Who Made “Saved By The Bell” Rock

From 1989 to 1993, kids all over America willingly went to school on Saturday mornings. Maybe you remember it—after a lineup of cartoons, the crushable teens from Bayside High poured into the hallways and onto NBC’s airwaves. There was Zack Morris, the mischievous blond babe at the center of it all, his hunky rival A.J. Slater, feminist activist and temporary popper Jessie Spano, beloved nerd Screech and the rest of the gang—all of them “Saved by the Bell.” Each week, pranks would be pulled, acid-washed jeans would most certainly be worn and the theme song—a rockabilly track laced with ‘80s synth and a catchy melody—would rock.

But the story of how this memorable theme song came to be starts on a day its composer would otherwise want to forget. The year was 1989. It was afternoon on a Friday that had started terribly. Scott Gale’s wife had left him. His marriage was over, but his career? Hardly. Scott got a call from the production office of a new show aimed at kids and teens. The live-action show would compete with Saturday morning cartoons, so it needed to be bright and cheerful, with a theme song to match. Could Scott get them something by Monday morning? Something that didn’t include the show’s title, which executive producer Peter Engel hated and hoped to change? Scott hung up the phone and a song poured out of him. Music and lyrics at the ready, he called his indefatigable collaborator Richard Eames. On Saturday morning, they recorded the track with singers. On Monday morning, they delivered it to Peter, who immediately loved it, despite the fact that Scott had totally goofed. The show’s title wasn’t just in the song. It was the song.

Scott and his partner-in-crime, Rich, would go on to write pretty much all the music in the show. They put a lot of time into teaching the cast lyrics and musical numbers (like in the episode where “the kids” started a band and Casey Kasem had a cameo), and even cut an album tied to the show. The duo prided themselves on creating music that was “in tune and on time,” balancing the long-running hit show with other projects, no matter how crazy the hours got.

These days, Zack Morris and company are all grown up. A new generation is discovering "Saved by the Bell" on Hulu and Instagram, a far cry from network TV and “Tiger Beat” magazine. And Scott? He’s keeping the music alive in San Antonio, Texas, where he never gets tired of going back to Bayside High and seeing his name in the credits.

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