This week, the caped crusader turned 75 years old this week and while he’s been the subject of television shows, cartoons, movies, action figures, comics and a ton of miscellaneous merchandise, Batman does have a few really interesting musical connections. I’m not just talking soundtracks either. So being the resident comic nerd on this site, it was my sworn duty to let you guys in on some of these bits of Bat trivia to amaze your friends with… if those friends happen to like Batman… and who doesn’t like Batman?
10) There Were More Then One Bat-Bands
During the rise of the Batman television there ended up being a number of Batman themed garage bands Like The Batmen, Gotham City Crime Fighters and my personal favourite, Robin and The Batmen.
9) Batman The Musical?
Yup, this nearly happened. Before Spider-Man tried to take over Broadway, there were plans for the Dark Knight to make his musical debut. Announced in 1998, the production would have been put together by Tim Burton (director of the Michael Keaton Batman film) and composer Jim Steinman. To be fair if you had to do a Broadway style musical about the Dark Knight, the guy who wrote Bat out of Hell is probably a good choice. Fortunately for everyone, this production never came to be but many of the songs have been recycled for other Steinman projects as well as just being released to the public. Thanks to Youtube, you can be assured that you didn’t miss anything.
8) U2 Released A Single Inserted With A Batman Comic
Originally intended for Zooropa but never finished, “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” ended being recorded for the great soundtrack to the less then great Batman Forever. What some U2 fans might not no that there is a single of this that was included in a poly bagged comic adaptation of the film along with a trading card and a pog. And that’s not U2’s only connection to Batman.
7) The Edge Composed The Theme Song To The Batman
Batman has had many animated incarnations and for seasons 1 and 2 of The Batman, The Edge composed and performed the opening theme.
6) The 1966 Batman Theme Won A Grammy!
One of the simplest theme songs to any television show ever, the theme to Batman (composed by jazz artist Neil Hefti) ended up being nominated for three Grammys over the series run and actually won one.
5) Prince’s Batman Album Happened Due To Record Company Pressures
Prince had a couple of misfires and Warner Brothers wanted a solid hit album. Noting how well the soundtrack to Purple Rain did, Warner approached Prince about doing an album (originally the idea was to co-write with score composer Danny Elfman) for the 1989 Batman film, The plan worked. Put together in six weeks (using a few new compositions and reusing unreleased material), the plan worked as Batman hit number one on Billboard 200 and Billboard’s R&B charts.
4) REM Contributed A Song To Batman Returns… That Was Rejected
R.E.M. were doing pretty well for themselves in 1992. Out Of Time had done really well both critically and commercially and they were readying another album, Automatic For The People. But apparently their theme for Batman Returns wasn’t good enough and didn’t end up on the soundtrack. However, “Winged Mammal Theme” did end up as a b-side for the “Drive” single.
3)The Muppets, Daft Punk and Batman Share A Friend
In my humble opinion, the best adaptation of Batman comes from the Batman The Animated Series. The series featured a tremendous voice cast (with Mark Hamill earning the title of best Joker, PERIOD!) and for The Penguin, the series called upon songwriter Paul William, best known for “Old Fashioned Love Song”, his work with The Muppets and most recently as a guest on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.
2) Wait… Is That Henry Rollins?
Henry Rollins, punk and alternative icon has done numerous voice overs through the years (he’s currently the voice of car maker, Infiniti) but he’s also appeared in two different animated version of Batman, first as Mad Stan in Batman Beyond and then as Robotman in Batman: Brave & The Bold. Mad Stan seems to bear a lot of Henry’s look and personality.
1) And The Animated Batman Occasionally Sang
This happened because the producers like Kevin Conroy’s singing voice and wanted to work in a gag so he’d finally sing on an episode.
And there you go, ten bits of Batman musical trivia to liven up your bat afternoon. And if you’re interested in finding out more about Batman’s 75th birthday, my friend Leah Hart wrote about some of the Toronto goings on here. And did I miss any Batman musical moments? Feel free to contribute your own Bat Music Mash Ups in the comment section below?