The Airwolf Saga
by Mark J. Cairns
Mark Cairns is a huge Airwolf fan and has been working on recreating
the show's music for an album release. This is his story:
The History of the Project
The project started about 12 years ago after the Airwolf TV series'
cancellation on CBS. I was in love with THAT helicopter and THAT music.
I searched worldwide (no World Wide Web back then) for the official soundrack
from the show's two original composers - Sylvester Levay and Udi Harpaz
- but no, nothing... just three horrible renditions on "television
albums" - one by the Power Pack Orchestra, the second arranged by
Daniel Caine in the UK (used on about four albums since!) and the third
was probably the strongest in the Japanese Airwolf/Knight Rider
CD. But NO original composition or arrangement. Nobody understood theme
as well as I did, probably as well, if not better than Sylvester Levay
himself. I remember finding Lukas Kendall's address in the early nineties
when he was doing 'The Soundtrack Club' newsletter and asking him how I
could contact my musical hero - Sly Levay. He gave me his agent's address,
where I eventually got a letter off to him, asking things about the music
- i.e. when will we hear the original stuff you did. I got a reply about
four months later from Sylvester but he'd obviously moved on to other projects,
and basically nobody had come up with the money to pay the huge licence
fee to MCA, etc. I thought "some day!"
I was already messing around with the theme on a Yamaha organ in the
mid-eighties, but I knew someday I'd need computer kit/proper professional
synths if I was ever to recreate the show's main theme - all utter self-indulgence,
During this time I started an international Appreciation Association
for the Airwolf series, banging out a semi-professional magazine continually
I won some money on a radio station competition in 1995, bought a pro
synth and just built it up from there. At the start, it, again, was all
self-indulgence. The first theme I mucked about with was the Airwolf
theme... for the first time complete with the synth's built-in sequencer.
But I quickly outgrew that, bought an Apple PowerMac (I'm a graphic designer
by profession) for free-lance graphics work, which then doubled up as a
professional music studio.
One day, a friend of mine heard my rendition of the Airwolf main theme,
and said: "That's a class recording. What CD did you get that of?"
I told him it was my own. He had thought it was the original, it was so
Then I let other people (within the Airwolf Association) hear the main
theme, and they agreed. And the project just grew from that acorn.
I did a few more episodic tracks, sent them to an Airwolf Association
member who was a soundtrack publisher in his spare time, we got talking,
and voila... the AIRWOLF THEMES CD was born.
The real problem since 1995 was bad advice. We were originally told
when we approached MCA music in London that we'd have to find Sylvester
Levay and Udi Harpaz to get their permission to do the project. Well, a
frantic search for well over a year brought up nothing... until I got on
"the Net" through my job.
I couldn't find either of them, until I used a bit of lateral thinking
as to finding them through the search engines on the Net (Thank you 'Excite'!).
Neither Sly nor Udi had done any TV/film work for over five years. This
was not a good sign at the start! How would I find them now? Well, one
day in March (1998), Excite brought up a little gem of information that
Sylvester had done a musical in Austria called 'Elisabeth'... a huge hit
there, on par with an Andrew Lloyd Webber, here in the UK.
Meanwhile, I was constantly developing new episodic tracks from Airwolf,
as close to their original sound, feel and arrangement
On-Line Fan Network Lead
I found an on-line fan's discussion forum just about 'Elisabeth'. I
wrote a desperate plea of an e-mail to the Webmaster of the Forum and she
in turn passed on my details to the marketing firm behind the musical,
who in turn, passed my details directly to Sylvester Levay. Isn't the Net
I got my producer in contact with him in April and, as it turns out,
MCA had the sole rights to the music of Airwolf all along... we
didn't need either Sylvester nor Udi's permission at all!! Arggghhhh! Talk
about bad advice.
Well I felt 'let's make a good job from bad and expand the project',
so I asked my producer to approach Sylvester with an offer to do a bonus
CD for the project and here we are.
Post Production Scheduled to Start November 9, 1998
I hit studio the second week of November for final post production and
mastering of what will probably be 27 episodic tracks on my CD, and three
extended tracks (still to be finalised!) from Sylvester Levay on his. I
want to give ultimate value-for-money... 30 tracks is exceptional nowadays...
the real problem I have now is when to stop... some of the tracks will
have to be pulled because of lack of physical space on CDs... so you'll
all be getting the full 74 minutes for your money + the bonus of Levay's
The whole philosophy of the project from the start has been to develop
a soundtrack score that "I" would want to buy... being (probably)
the biggest Airwolf fan in the world today. If a track isn't up
to standard, it WON'T go on, simple as that!
16-Page Souvenir Booklet
The other advantage with me doing the project (apart from being a huge
fan of Levay' and Harpaz' work) is that being a graphic designer by profession
I can do all the artwork myself. I've also met Airwolf's original
designer this year (via the Net) too, which is great and I've not developed
super high resolution artwork (from the show) and the original typeface
again, to keep the production standards up.
I intend to make it available to as many people as possible, but obviously
there isn't unlimited resources behind the project like many Hollywood
scores, but there is a very good budget behind the project. Thus, the CD
will have full retail distribution in the UK, and we're in negotiations
about an export of about 40% to the USA to the bigger mail order channels
over there. There will also be a good Mail Order service available from
the UK for everyone else around the globe, so everyone has a chance to
get a copy.
The Final Word...
I'm a great believer that everyone has "at least one novel in them".
Well, my heart and soul (and a good whack of my personal bank balance!)
has gone into this project .. this is my contribution to that train of
Airwolf Themes CD
Production Run: 5,000 copies
Release Date: March 1999
We will have updates here at the FSM site as this project comes closer