In 1975, Randy Childress was busy.
To help pay his tuition at Temple, he worked odd jobs for the Philadelphia 76ers. One day, he dressed up in a turkey costume for the Thanksgiving Day game and the next he housed then 17-year-old Darryl Dawkins, a former Sixers player, while he was finding a place to live after being drafted to the team.
In addition to working and being a full-time student, Childress, a 1975 communications and theater alumnus, played bass in the band Fresh Aire.
In Fall 1975, the Sixers assigned Childress another task: write the team’s theme song. He recorded “Here Come the Sixers,” a disco anthem, with his two bandmates at the time, Terry Rocap and Joe Sherwood.
“They wanted to bring back that whole magic and the spirit of the team and the fans to kind of put it back in their repertoire,” Childress said.
The song played when the Sixers walked onto the court during home games until 1983, when the team won the NBA finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, Childress said.
After decades without playing “Here Come the Sixers,” the anthem was revived in 2012. It is now played as the team enters the court and after home wins at the Wells Fargo Center.
The three-minute disco pop song has a catchy introduction.
“There’s a piano part that starts the song out and it kind of like gets everybody’s ear,” Rocap said.
The introduction is followed by a line from the clavinet, an electric, stringed keyboard popular in the 1970s, which Rocap said is “real funky.”
“The song is just infectious after that point,” Rocap said. “It’s like we’ve got you before we even start singing.”
The song continues into a verse encouraging listeners to cheer, followed by the chorus. After the chorus the song breaks into a count:
“One, two, three, four, five…Sixers!”
“Ten, nine, eight, 76ers!”
Childress said the Sixers’ management decided that a theme song was in order when talented players like Doug Collins and Steve Mix revived the team after its 9-73 season in 1972-73.
“They started winning games,” Childress said. “The excitement was there.”
During song-writing sessions in each other’s apartments, Fresh Aire worked on the Sixers song. After watching “Sesame Street” with his toddler, Rocap presented the idea of the counting break in the Sixers anthem.
“We kind of took the nucleus of that and then created the rest of the song,” Childress said.
After “Here Come the Sixers” began to play at games, Fresh Aire wrote songs for other sports teams — like the Philadelphia Flyers, Atlanta Hawks and Washington Capitals.
Fresh Aire even produced a jingle for J & J Snack Food Company, a New Jersey-based snack food manufacturer.
Although the songs they wrote for other teams were only played for a year or two, “Here Comes the Sixers” remained alive.
Even though Fresh Aire’s recorded version didn’t play for 30 years, “Here Come the Sixers” still made its presence at the games in other ways over the years.
“It never really died,” Childress added. “The organ player played it at the games, the pep band played it in the stands, people would sing it, even though it wasn’t played as a recording over the PA system.”
In 2012, Childress said radio stations like WIP, a Philadelphia-based sports radio station, brought back the song on air. That same year, Adam Aron, the 76ers’ CEO, announced that Fresh Aire’s “Here Come the Sixers” would be played again at games.
“They brought it back because they wanted to re-instill a certain nostalgia,” Childress said. “Then all of the sudden the Sixers song was their DNA.”
Fans still sing the song today. Sixers fan Maura Gallagher, a freshman media studies and production major, said she feels “Here Come the Sixers” unites fans while watching home games.
“It’s a fun song that brings people together,” Gallagher added. “If you’re around other Sixers fans everyone will just jump in and sing. … It brings happy memories.”
Childress said fans of the Sixers anthem have showed their appreciation for the tune since it was first heard at games.
“Somewhere buried in my stock pile in a box, we’ve got letters from kids back from when it was first written,” Childress said. “[They were] written by third graders and fourth graders, and it was really kind of fun reading these [letters that say] that my favorite thing is…‘Here Come the Sixers.’”