1976 Rhythm Heritage – Baretta’s Theme (“Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow”)
Michael James Gubitosi was born in 1933 and began acting in 1939. He appeared in a single film and followed that with appearances in dozens of the Little Rascal shorts as Mickey. In the final 1942 episodes of the series he appeared as Bobby Blake, and by 1956 began using a new stage name, Robert Blake.
He appeared in countless films and television shows. In perhaps a poor decision, he turned down the chance to play the role of Little Joe on Bonanza.
Robert’s most acclaimed role came in the film In Cold Blood in 1967. His most famous role is probably that of the title character in the television show Baretta from 1975 to 1978.
Morgan Ames and Dave Grusin wrote Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow, the theme song for the show. Sammy Davis Jr. sang the show’s version of the song.
While everybody might be familiar with the theme song, Sammy’s single failed to reach the Hot 100 and stalled at only #42 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
Merry Clayton recorded a second version of the song. Her uptempo disco single reached #45 on the Hot 100 in 1975.
Producers Steve Barri and Michael Omartian formed the disco/funk group Rhythm Heritage in 1975. The band used a host of studio musicians, including Ray Parker Jr., and recorded a single version of the Theme From SWAT, which topped the Hot 100 in early 1976.
They also recorded a new near-instrumental version of Baretta’s Theme and the single reached #20 on the Hot 100 later in 1976.
The band only reached the Hot 100 one other time. Their disco cover of the Theme from Rocky (Gonna Fly Now) only reached #94 before falling off the chart.
Two more albums followed, after which they appear to have disbanded.
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