Rembrandts singer says ‘Friends’ theme success “killed our cool”
The Rembrandts seemingly struck gold by performing the iconic Friends theme song, “I’ll Be There for You,” but a singer from the band says the opposite happened.
Danny Wilde, who fronted the band with Phil Solem, told The Guardian that while the song’s popularity helped him put his kids through college, it “broke up the band.”
“It all happened wildly fast,” the singer said of being approached to make the Friends theme song, explaining that the original pilot used R.E.M.‘s “Shiny Happy People.” Wilde said execs were torn on the song choice and asked him and Solem to come up with “something with the same tempo.”
They came up with a 43-second version of the song that played when Friends premiered September 22, 1994. “It didn’t have our name on the credits. We were a pretty hip band, so stipulated that we didn’t want anyone to know we’d sold out,” said Wilde.
“But the song stuck, the show stuck and it snowballed. The record company rushed us into the studio to cut a full version,” he continued, saying the success led to them filming a music video with the cast of Friends.
“Once people realized it was us, it killed our cool vibe. We went from doing cool clubs to matinee shows where parents would bring their kids,” he said. “The song became an albatross round our necks and broke up the band for a few years.”
Looking back at the song, said Wilde, “It put my kids through college and got me a beautiful home. I’m not rich but I’m comfortable … I might be living on the streets if it wasn’t for that song.”
He and Solem have since reformed their band and now play at Friends anniversary shows. “If people are willing to pay you to do something you’re proud of, why not?” he said.
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