Themes from ‘Today’

“Today” 1979 – 1981 Theme


This bright and sunny piece called “This is Today” is perhaps one of the most popular themes used on the Today Show. It’s the second theme by Ray Ellis. It replaced the theme that Ellis composed earlier for the Today Show that was forced off the air by a lawsuit. This theme is closely associated with the late 1970’s era of Today with Tom Brokaw and Jane Pauley as anchors. It was phased out when Brokaw left the program at the end of 1981 but has been used in some anniversary segments over the years.

Ray Ellis - Today theme

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“Today” 1971 – 1978 Theme


This jazzy theme by Ray Ellis was used on the Today Show for a number of years but ultimately forced off the air due to a plagiarism lawsuit. Publishers of the song “Day by Day” sued Ellis and NBC charging that the instrumental arrangement and harmonization of the Today Show theme is substantially similar to that of “Day by Day” and, more importantly, the differences in melody are relatively minor. The Court sided with “Day by Day” and NBC was forced to commission a new theme. It was later revealed that NBC had considerred using “Day by Day” as its theme. Here you can listen to the theme that was banned from television. It was at first only used as a long friday close, but starting in 1976 it was also used as an open. It was the first theme the Today Show used that was composed specifically for the program.

Ray Ellis - Today theme

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