Who Wrote The Theme Song For ‘That ’70s Show’?

That ’70s Show bottled-up flower power nostalgia for a younger generation. The Fox series followed a group of teens—Eric (Topher Grace), Hyde (Danny Masterson), Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), Jackie (Mila Kunis), Donna (Laura Prepon), and Fez (Wilmer Valderrama) – in the mid-’70s as they enter young adulthood.

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While the show has many calling cards, the show’s theme song has to be one of the most prominent.

The title sequence perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the show. The main characters bop around town in the Forman’s (the show’s fictional family) Vista Cruiser singing along to the theme: Hanging out down the street / The same old thing we did last week / Not a thing to do but to talk to you.

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Playing into the era of the show, the theme song was taken from a ’70s rock group. Find out which one, below.

Who Wrote “That ’70s Song (In The Street)?”

“In The Street” was written by Big Star, specifically frontman Alex Chilton and guitarist Chris Bell. The song was featured on the group’s debut album, #1 Record.

Chilton and Bell started writing songs together as teenagers in Memphis, Tennessee. After The Beatles made a tour stop there in 1966, the pair was moved to forge a songwriting partnership in the spirit of Lennon-McCartney.

Bell’s tenure in the band was short-lived. #1 Record is the only Big Star album to officially credit Bell as a member. He played a large role in the production of the record, causing it to have a starkly different sound than the band’s subsequent efforts.

“When Chris Bell was still in the band, he took more interest than anybody in the production and technology end of things,” producer John Fry once said. “He had a good production mind…the reason why the second album is rougher, with fewer harmonies, is due to the absence of Chris’s influence in the studio.”

After leaving the band, Bell died in a tragic car crash at the age of 27.

Chilton stayed in Big Star for the duration of the band’s lifespan, including several post-hiatus iterations. In between working with Big Star and other bands like The Box Tops, Chilton released solo projects.

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Though Big Star didn’t sell very well commercially in the early days of their career, subsequent alt-rock bands have heralded them as major influences.

“I heard the first two records first, Radio City and #1 Record,” Mike Mills of R.E.M. once said. “I just thought they were perfect. If I could make records, that would be the sort of records I would make. The third one took me a bit longer to get into, but it does reward repeated listening. What Big Star was doing made sense to me.”

Cheap Trick Version

Though Big Star released the original version of the song, it is not the rendition that plays at the beginning of That ’70s Show.

In the show’s first season, an abridged version of the song was performed by Todd Griffin. Griffin’s cover was later replaced by one from Cheap Trick. That version would remain the theme for the duration of the show. The song is still a staple in Cheap Trick’s live set.

Chilton once told Rolling Stone that, though he had never seen the series or heard Cheap Trick’s rendition, he did enjoy the royalties he received from it.

“It’s actually ironic that the amount is $70,” Chilton said. “To me, it’s That $70 Show.”

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