"Heavy Action" is a piece of music composed by Johnny Pearson. Composed in 1970, and featuring a strong brass fanfare opening, "Heavy Action" soon became a well established sporting theme tune, most associated in the UK as the theme for Superstars, and in North America as the theme music for ABC and ESPN's Monday Night Football.
The BBC commissioned Pearson to write the piece for its music library, while he was working as a member of the Top of the Pops orchestra accompanying pop stars on the weekly music TV show. During production of the first series of Superstars in 1973, Heavy Action was chosen as the theme music, owing to its high energy brass fanfare opening and Olympian themes. The show (which aired in its first run from 1973 to 1985 and has been revived regularly since then) has always used the theme tune for all episodes of the show in its various incarnations, including the latest 2012 Olympic Superstars edition. The theme is now synonymous with sport in the UK, and was used extensively by the BBC during their coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Monday Night Football
In 1975, ABC, who had developed the original Superstars show in the US, acquired the rights to use "Heavy Action" as the opening theme music to Monday Night Football, although it would not become the official theme until 1989. It was also used as the background music during a halftime segment as Howard Cosell narrated highlights of the previous Sunday's games. In 1989, Edd Kalehoff arranged an entirely new recording of "Heavy Action" for the final years of Monday Night Football on ABC.
In 2006, a team of composers comprising Robert Anthony Navarro, Cris Velasco, Sven Spieker, Sascha Dikiciyan and Chris Rickwood were hired by Associated Production Music (APM) to arrange yet another entirely new recording of "Heavy Action" for the rebirth of Monday Night Football on ESPN.
In 2010, Cris Velasco, Robert Anthony Navarro, Rod Abernathy, and Joachim Svare were hired by APM to do several arrangements of "Heavy Action" in various musical styles including rock, hip-hop and holiday for Monday Night Football on ESPN.
- Three years after its arrival on Monday Night Football, this same music was used as the theme for the now defunct syndicated SFM Holiday Network monthly offering of family feature films.
- In 1975 British Leyland used the soundtrack on the launch film of the 18-22 SeriesAustin Princess saloon.
- The music was also used as the theme for the American television show Ten Who Dared (1976), which was a reworking of the BBC series The Explorers (1975).
- In 2009, the music was used in a radio commercial for AT&T U-verse.
- Since January 2012 Chris Evans has used the song as the opening theme to his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show on Monday mornings.
- Johnny Pearson - Telegraph
- Chakerian, Peter. The Browns Fan's Tailgating Guide. Cleveland, Ohio: Gray & Co., 2008, p. 85.
- Johnny Pearson: Composer, pianist and arranger who worked on ‘Top of the Pops’ during three decades - Obituaries - News - The Independent
- "APM Music Updates 'Monday Night Football' Theme Music." MixOnline.com. October 18, 2006. Accessed 2012-02-15.
- The SFM Holiday Network (Bumper, 1982) at YouTube.com
- Background on Ten Who Dared
- The full version of Heavy Action as featured on the 1978 BBC 'Sporting Themes' compilation
- Filmography of Martin Shaw, confirming the connection between Superstars and Ten Who Dared