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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

Music played a big part in Mary Tyler Moore's success

Husker Du "Love Is All Around"

Mary Tyler Moore's death Wednesday at 80 elicited an immense response, no surprise in that she truly was regarded as "America's sweetheart," thanks largely to her award-winning stint as independent working single woman Mary Richards in The MaryTyler Moore Show (1970-1977), and before that, as Laura Petrie, wife of Dick Van Dyke's comedy writer Rob Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966).

But Moore's fan base had a significant musical contingent, due to her mostly country MTM Records indie label based in Nashville in the mid-1980s (Holly Dunn and Paul Overstreet were among its most notable roster artists), and to undoubtedly a larger extent, The Mary Tyler Moore Show's "Love Is All Around" theme song. The much-covered tune was written and performed by Sonny Curtis, who had a No. 29 country hit with it in 1980.

"Sonny Curtis is best described as a friend and frequent collaborator of Buddy Holly who became a full-time member of [Holly's band] the Crickets after Holly’s death," notes music archivist Gregg Geller. "While with the Crickets, the band recorded the original versions of his songs 'I Fought The Law,' later a hit for both the Bobby Fuller Four and the Clash, and 'More Than I Can Say,' later a hit for both Bobby Vee and Leo Sayer. He also wrote 'Walk Right Back'--a hit by the Everly Brothers and, later, Anne Murray--and 'I'm No Stranger to the Rain,' a hit by Keith Whitley. His own country hit, 'The Real Buddy Holly Story,' was written and recorded in response to the hit biopic The Buddy Holly Story. But he is perhaps most remembered by later generations for his Mary Tyler Moore theme, 'Love Is All Around,' memorably covered by Husker Du and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts."

Minneapolis band Husker Du's version was actually backed by a video that reproduced scenes and locations from The Mary Tyler Moore Show's opening theme song sequence, as the show took place in Minneapolis.

Joan Jett "Love Is All Around"

"I grew up watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show," Joan Jett said on her Facebook page. "I was inspired that women were shown as being equal to men and it had an influence on me as I became a musician. The show was groundbreaking, important and funny. I will miss Mary Tyler Moore."

Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, respectively Flo and Eddie of the Turtles, were huge fans and friends of Moore, and often performed "Love Is All Around" in concert.

"We loved her and we will miss her," said Volman, via email. Tweeted Kaylan: "Farewell, my dear friend. I love you forever RIP Angel."

Both Moore and Van Dyke, incidentally, had dance backgrounds, as was evident in their graceful movement and timing in The Dick Van Dyke Show.

"There are no words," Van Dyke tweeted. "She was THE BEST!"



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