Actor, songwriter, composer, SOCAN member Alan Thicke, passes on at 69

Photo: David Leyes
December 14, 2016

Actor, comedian, songwriter, composer and SOCAN member Alan Thicke, passed away suddenly on Dec. 13, 2016, in Los Angeles, of a heart attack while playing hockey with his son Carter. Thicke gained much of his success as an actor in shows like the long-running sitcom Growing Pains, but also as a talented composer and singer-songwriter best known for penning the theme song to the 1980s sitcom Diff’rent Strokes.

Ontario-born Thicke began his music career as guitar player and singer in Toronto, before going on to write theme songs for variety and game shows in the U.S.

“They knew a little bit about my musical background and they assigned me to come up with a theme song,” Thicke recalled in an exclusive interview with Words & Music magazine in 2014. “They wanted something different, so I suggested maybe rock ‘n’ roll, something contemporary. And to take it beyond that, we said why not write a lyric for it? So I did. I wrote and recorded and sang the theme song to The Wizard of Odds. By today’s standards it would be pretty lame, but back then it was progressive for a daytime game show.”

Thicke went on to compose dozens of catchy tunes, most notably for Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, and the original theme to Wheel of Fortune. “It Takes Diff’rent Strokes” was Thicke’s most enduring composition, and even features his vocals. 

Until 2016, Thicke continued to work as an actor and music creator, making appearances on popular shows such as How I Met Your Mother, Fuller House, and This Is Us, and collaborated with superstar music producer, David Foster, who played keyboards on many of Thicke’s sessions.

Lyrics from Thicke’s music have popped up in skits on Chapelle’s Show, Saturday Night Live, and 2 Broke Girls. He proudly confessed to Words & Music: “When I hear the lines used in a sketch, I turn to my 16-year-old [now 19], elbow him, ‘Hey, that’s my song!’”

SOCAN extends its heartfelt sympathies and condolences to Alan Thicke’s wife, Tanya, and his three sons, Robin (of “Blurred Lines” fame), Brennan, and Carter.