NPR logo

The Man Behind The NFL Music: Sam Spence Dies At 88

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/466648883/466648884" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
The Man Behind The NFL Music: Sam Spence Dies At 88

Music

The Man Behind The NFL Music: Sam Spence Dies At 88

The Man Behind The NFL Music: Sam Spence Dies At 88

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/466648883/466648884" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Weekend Edition remembers Sam Spence, a longtime composer of rousing musical scores for NFL Films' documentaries and highlight reels.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Professional football in America is a special game, a unique game.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

For decades, that dramatic music you hear was a signature sound of the NFL. The man behind that sound died last week. His name was Sam Spence.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: Spence was writing music for German television shows in the '60s when he was drafted to work for a then small production company called NFL Films.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: Over two decades, Sam Spence composed soundtracks for hundreds of football documentaries and highlight reels. His grand scores matched the drama on the screen and on the field.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: Some of his songs took on the majestic melodies of cowboy Westerns; others, the driving pulse of a spy movie. Spence never spared the brass or the drums, using their sounds to match the rhythms of a dynamic and thrilling game. Sam Spence died on the eve of Super Bowl 50. He was 88 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: The man behind our signature sound is thankfully still with us. BJ Leiderman, he wrote our theme music.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.