Sunday, October 9, 2011

Super ‘70s and ‘80s: “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!”—Rose Marie Mook and Nick Mook, widow and son of theme co-writer David Mook

Introduction to series “Super ‘70s and ‘80s.” 

Introduction to subseries “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” (including list of interviewees).

[NOTE: “Mook” rhymes with “book.”]

Rose Marie Mook:

Tell me about David.

He was born in Brooklyn. He was very well educated. He went to the best schools. He loved music from when he was young. When he graduated from NYU, he decided to go into music. He was going to be an English teacher but he visited his cousins from Austria who founded the [music] company Hill and Range in New York City. They loved country-western music. One day around 1961 David walked up there, said I’m looking for work, and I’d love to learn. So they hired him. They were really the best in the business. They were famous, doing things that no one else did. They also signed Phil Spector, Burt Bacharach, many others. He was responsible for “Little Songs that Teach,” a book and record. When he passed away I had to renew the copyright to Scooby-Doo. When a composer passes away the next in line, which was myself, has to renew the copyright. He also produced The Banana Splits.

When was he born?

April 15, 1936.

How did he become involved with Scooby-Doo?

He did a lot of projects for Hanna-Barbera. We moved out here. He opened a music company, a California office of A. Schroeder. He started circulating, meeting the music people out here. Hanna-Barbera had this idea to do a cartoon show about a dog whose name was going to be Scooby. They called David and said we need a song and you’re going to write it with Ben Raleigh, one of their freelance songwriters. We need an opening song. It’s gotta be catchy. Ben lived in Palm Springs at the time. So David called him and said they want us to write this song together. He said it’s just a trial but we’ve got to give them something. He drove to Palm Springs on a Tuesday. They write the song, David brings it back, presents it to Hanna-Barbera, and they loved it. And the rest is history.

How do you remember it was a Tuesday?

Everything good that’s ever happened in my life has happened on a Tuesday.

Did Hanna-Barbera give David any visuals first?

Oh yeah. They called him over there. They showed him the diagram of the dog, went over the format.

Did David and Ben already know each other?

Yes, from New York and out here. They had met.

They wrote the song in a day?

In one day. David left early in the morning and was back that evening.

Did he perform it for you that night?

He sang the catchy tune to it.

David and Rose Marie Mook 1976

Did one write the music and one write the lyrics?

David wrote the lyrics and Ben wrote the music.

Did I read somewhere that they wrote the song the week the show was supposed to air?

Yes, it was very fast. [NOTE: Assuming Rose Marie is correct about David and Ben meeting on a Tuesday and the song being fast-tracked, and knowing that Scooby debuted on Saturday, September 13, 1969, this means we can pinpoint the exact date on which the Scooby theme was created: September 9, 1969. Those who know me know how much I love when an event can be triangulated like that.]

Do you remember watching it for the first time on TV?

Oh yeah. When they did the films a few years ago, they invited me to the premiere. I was so disappointed with what they did with the dog. He looked so devilish. David would’ve had a fit. In the cartoons he’s still adorable. Have you seen 127 Hours? My Scooby’s in that. I was thrilled that it was in there and the way that it was incorporated.

What instruments did David play?

Guitar, drums, and piano.

How many children do you have?

Two sons.

Were either born before Scooby-Doo debuted?

My older was born in 1967. He always watched.

Was this something special for David or just another job at first?

He never looked at anything as just another job. Everything he did was special. This is going to be weird for you but you know Charles Manson?


Manson walked into my husband’s office peddling some demos he had! This was before all that happened. David looked at him and thought “This is a very strange person. I’ve got to get him out of my office.” David said he’d always listen to anybody’s material.

How soon after that did the horrible things happen with Manson?

About a year [after], I think.

Did David right away make the connection when the news broke about Manson?

Oh yes. He couldn’t believe it.

Did David ever say anything specific about the inspiration for the Scooby-Doo lyrics?

No. He knew the format and they just wrote.

What did writing the Scooby-Doo theme do for David’s career?

It did a lot. It boosted his career as a writer. But at the same time he had his own publishing company. He was independent so he was able to submit music to motion picture companies. His pride and joy was Randy Newman, who he discovered out of UCLA. When David came out here, he was looking for a doctor. Everyone in the business recommended a Dr. Newman. So David went to see him. Randy was still going to school at UCLA. David told Dr. Newman what he did and Dr. Newman said “My son is a genius, been composing since he was four years old, and if you don’t mind we’d love you to listen to his tapes.” David heard the music and loved it and signed him as an in-house writer. David sent one of Randy’s songs to the Beatles called “Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear.” And they recorded it. And that’s what broke Randy Newman into being a big star. It was on one of their hit albums. [NOTE: I found record of multiple artists covering the song, but not the Beatles. Rose Marie felt certain they had, so perhaps it’s actually an unreleased demo?]

Did he receive a flat fee or royalty for the Scooby-Doo theme?

Royalties for life.

Was that standard in the business then?

Yes, and it still is.

How does that exactly work? The song must run many times a day around the world…

It used to be a lot more. Now it gets picked up for different projects like commercials, movies. BMI keeps track of every time it airs. I’m very popular with them. David was a BMI writer. They have their sources on everything that’s played.

Was that song the most lucrative song that David worked on?

Yes, because it was completely his.

Shared with Ben, I presume?


Any funny Scooby-Doo anecdotes, like how someone reacted when they learned David co-wrote the theme?

Everybody said “I grew up with that song!”

How did David react to people being so excited?

He was happy, he was cool. He was happy that it became a copyright for his family.

What do his kids think of that aspect of their dad?

My younger son works for a lot of people in the music business. Every time they hear “Mook,” they say was your dad David Mook? He was a great music man. He was a great writer and knew great talent.

Do you have grandchildren?

I have two granddaughters, one eight and one ten.

Are they Scooby-Doo fans?

They like it but they don’t watch it. Our 10-year-old likes iCarly. And the little one doesn’t like music at all.

David Mook 1994

When and how did David die?

He passed away in 1996. He was sick for five years with cancer.

What do you do for a living?

I’m a makeup artist. Presently I work in a salon and also do freelance.

Did David stay in touch with Ben Raleigh?

They would speak through the years. And whenever something [business-related] came up they would speak. Ben died three months after David did.

Are you in touch with the Raleigh family?

No. I never knew his widow. Ben was quite a bit older than my husband. His widow did sell her part of the catalog to Music Sales in New York. They came calling at my door and I said no, never, because that’s one thing David always said: “Never sell your copyright.” I’m the one that has final say on every project.

In touch with anyone else associated with Scooby-Doo?

Hanna-Barbera. Everybody at Warner/Chappell. They’re all my friends over there. Susan De Christofaro is a very good friend.

Do you have any Scooby-Doo memorabilia?

Not really. I have a couple of fun things—the dog on my desk. It’s not a stuffed animal. It’s kind of metal.

What about any notes, lyrics, etc., of David’s?

I don’t have anything on paper. I have it on CDs. I have the first time he sang the song on cassette. I have it put away somewhere. I think it was the one they presented. He kept a copy. They used to make a lot of copies.

Was David ever interviewed about Scooby-Doo?

I don’t think he was.

What did you think when you heard why I was contacting you?

I didn’t know what this was going to be about. I’m happy to interview. It was a year after David passed away when Scooby started to really come forward and become big. I got a lot of calls for commercials, films. I wish he was here to see this. Thanks for doing this wonderful thing.

Nick Mook:

When do you recall learning that your dad had something to do with Scooby-Doo?

Probably not until 1975 [Nick was born in 1971]. I remember that he wrote it and sang it, not the business details. I remember him dancing around the living room, playing the bass guitar and singing it to me as a kid. I found it very funny and never took him seriously.

Meaning he said he was the one who wrote it and you didn’t believe him?

I was a typical five year old. He used to sit in his underwear on Saturday mornings jamming with his bass guitar and amplifier, hitting the chords perfectly. Whenever the song came on, I’d yell from across the house for him to come and join in with me.

Was your brother involved?

He was around. But not jamming.

Were you a Scooby-Doo fan as a kid?

Big time. Hooked on it. I vividly remembering all the artist friends of my dad. I was one of the first latchkey kids and I would sit watching Scooby-Doo and other cartoons with a bowl of cereal.

How much of your fondness for Scooby-Doo came on your own and how much was related to your dad?

A good 80% was on my own. When they made the newer one in the ‘80s with Scrappy, it wasn’t the same. I remember all my friends from elementary to high school, when I told them about my dad’s involvement, everybody was just amazed by it.

Do you remember any anecdotes involving your friends when they found out your dad co-wrote the Scooby-Doo theme?

In high school, when I was out with my friends, making mischief, partying, I would bring it up and it would be the big thing.

Do you feel your dad got proper credit for this accomplishment?

Not at the time. I think after he passed away it really came, when they started making the movie. It’s unfortunate that he was really never able to see it.

Do you think he recognized his own contribution to pop culture?

To some extent. That was one of his larger accomplishments in the industry. I think he would’ve been proud of the way it brought income in to support my mother.

So it was only with the movie that the income was more significant?

That’s right.

What is your dad best remembered for professionally?

I would say this one is really up there. Some of the music themes on television. He worked with Jimi Hendrix to Linda Ronstadt to quite a few different artists, but this is really up there for him.

Was he proud of it?

Absolutely. I know he was.

Do you have any Scooby-Doo paraphernalia?

No. I’m not the type of guy that would keep stuff like that. Nothing inherited from my dad. Just his sense of humor. He had a big one.

What do your kid(s) think of Scooby-Doo and their grandfather’s role in it?

She loves it. She thinks it’s great. She brags about it to her friends. And they go crazy, these 9- and 10-year-old girls.

So she watches Scooby-Doo?

You know what, she hasn’t. She knows the music. She saw the movie but she hasn’t seen the original ‘70s series. She’s not really into cartoons.

What do you do for a living?

I’m an arborist, a tree doctor. I work in high-end residential homes so I work with a lot of celebrities and the like. Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and the valley. I bump into a lot of people that my dad knew.

What did you think when you first heard why I was contacting you?

I thought it was great. I was surprised. I thought that it was a dying thing. I thought it was very interesting that you picked up on this. There were a lot of old guys that made a huge impact on the industry that never were discussed.

Do you have the Scooby-Doo theme on your iPod/iPhone?

Uh…actually, no I don’t. But I don’t need it. I’ve got it in my head. I’ll have that for the rest of my life.


Unknown said...

My dad was your dad's attorney. I used to babysit you two! Fun interview, glad you are both well...and adults! So who got the stuff in the garage. Treasure Trove. I hung out quite a bit with your dad as a young adult. Kind man. Love to you both. Laurie Cohen Clausen

Unknown said...

I work with Alex, David's younger son. He's great to worth with, very nonsensical off-the-wall humor. As soon as Alex told me about his father and all his gifts to the music industry, I didn't believe it at first. I thought that he was getting one over on me. But once I realized he was sincere about it, I told EVERYBODY. My family, my friends, strangers on the street. It was so cool to be 1 degree of separation from the man who gave us the Scooby Doo theme song. The Mook family is amazing, thanks for doing this interview with them.

Marty said...

Did David have a working relationship with David Chackler and Sounds Of Film with offices on Cahuenga Blvd. W. ? I think I once was invited to dinner at your home in Encino when I worked at Sounds Of Film. And I think he represented several song catalogs of sound-a-likes.

Unknown said...

Hi Marty. This is David's son Alex. Yes....I remember David Chackler and Sounds of Film. In fact when I graduated from college, I worked for my dad partially and delivered tapes there. Marty, what do you do now? Are you still in LA? Please keep in touch and thanks!