W.G. Snuffy Walden

I was watching an old episode (the only kind there is, really) of The West Wing the other day, and saw a name that would bring a smile on my face every time I watched the show when it first aired – W.G. Snuffy Walden. To my surprise, we had not yet covered him here on these hallowed pages, so here we are!

Snuffy, or William Garrett Walden, as he was originally named, was born in Louisiana in 1950, and later raised in Houston, Texas. After graduating High School, he studied math at university while also working as a radio DJ and playing guitar at a strip club. An, um, interesting gig for a student, I’m sure.

Snuffy Walden pickin' the guitar. This photograph appears to have been lit with the standard "whisky commercial filters".

Snuffy Walden pickin’ the guitar. This photograph appears to have been lit with standard “whisky commercial filters”.

He picked up his unusual nickname from his musician buddies who didn’t care for such square names as “William” or “Garrett”. Luckily, there was a popular Southern brand of chewing tobacco, or “snuff”, named Levi Garrett. In nickname speech forever after, Garrett would equal Snuffy. And we’re happy for it.

Soon, he decided picking on the ol’ guitar was way more fun that working with integers and tangents, or whatever it is that math students look at all day. He dropped out of school and hopped on the road with his blues outfit Stray Dog. He moved to England, later joined the Eric Burdon Band, and throughout the 70s and 80s played with musicians like Burdon, Donna Summer, Chaka Khan, and Stevie Wonder.

He eventually moved to L.A, and in 1987 he was approached to compose music for a television show. He wasn’t instantly sure whether he wanted the gig, but accepted, figuring the time was running out on his days as a touring musician. He took the gig, and it turned out to be the theme song for the massive hit thirtysomething. This piece of fortune started a whole new career as a TV composer.

Pretty hip.

Pretty hip.

He’s worked on more than 80 TV and film soundtracks since then, including the aforementioned West Wing, as well as Roseanne, Ellen, The Drew Carey Show, and Friday Night Lights.

He is currently also serving as an artistic advisor to the BMI Foundation, which oddly has nothing whatsoever to do with body mass index.


About Arto

Co-founder of the Funny Names Blog, Hawaiian shirt enthusiast, and holder of a funny name himself with too many vowels for any sensible person. Currently residing in San Diego, California, scouring through obscure documents on a hunt for more funny names. www.funnynamesblog.wordpress.com
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26 Responses to W.G. Snuffy Walden

  1. wdydfae says:

    “. . . nothing to ‘fret’ about with Arto’s latest–a great ‘pick’ . . .”

    “. . . Arto really struck a chord with his latest Snuffy Walden post . . .”

    “. . . Arto’s back on track, or should we say soundtrack, with this latest foray into the music and tv world . . ”

    “. . . Arto’s found a great theme, themes, which makes his post a theme of themes, and makes this review kind of like a theme of a theme of themes, or something . . .”

    “. . . Arto turns that amp up to 11 with his explosive Season 3 premier . . .”

  2. kerbey says:

    And all this time, the only Snuffy I’ve known is Snuffy Smith, the cartoon character from Hootin’ Holler. He looks nothing like this Snuffy in whisky filters. Where can I get my hands on those filters? And that gorgeous guitar?

    Over the years, I have seen folks take a “pinch of snuff” from Red Man Chewing Tobacco, but after seeing a health show on mouth cancer and people’s jaws being cut into, it didn’t look too glamorous to me. Composing TV themes would be pretty glamorous, though. And that’s coming from a girl with a cassette (and also MP3s) of 70-80s TV theme songs.

    • Dave says:

      I completely agree…. I wish people could only view me through the lens of Whiskey commercial filters. A few years back I got hooked on the fascinatingly weird series of Dewar’s ads starring Claire Forlani… and they definitely had that kind of lighting.

      What are your favorite 70s-80s TV themes? The Cheers theme is a favorite of mine, and it’s one of those songs that instantly brings back good memories of binge-watching Cheers… although I skipped ahead when Kirstie Alley replaced Shelley Long, and jumped straight to the finale, which was wonderful.

      • kerbey says:

        Oh, yes, I loved Cheers. That song is always comforting. I always liked happy upbeat songs: “The Jeffersons,” “Good Times,” “Love Boat,” “Happy Days.” It was like they were saying, “This next half hour is going to be magical.”

    • Arto says:

      There are never enough Snuffys, or 80s TV themes for that matter. But I guess we aren’t getting more of the latter, so better campaign for more Snuffys (Snuffies?) instead.

      • kerbey says:

        I do wonder why new shows don’t have cheesy theme songs. 😦 Hearing “The Tonight Show” theme start in used to fill us with anticipation. And then the “Heeeeeere’s Johnny!”

  3. Now that’s something. I remember “the guys” chewing Levi Garrett when I was a youngster. It was a habit that caused me to move to a different part of the state.

    Glad Snuffy made these hallowed pages. It appears music and math go together. Glad the music won out. 🙂

    • Dave says:

      I got so distracted by the idea of “playing guitar at a strip club” (is that even a job? they have guitarists at strip clubs? none of this makes any sense to me…) that I completely overlooked the math part. What a fascinating career trajectory…

      • I’ve never been in a strip club, I can only imagine they pipe in music any more these days. But like the silent movies of yesteryear, I’m sure live music ruled.

        • Dave says:

          I went to one once. Almost 10 years ago. It was a weird experience. One guy seemed really into it though.

          I agree… the live music in strip clubs was probably pretty awesome! Especially if Snuffy was playing it. I’m assuming this kind of stuff isn’t in the history that shows up in the old magazines Kerbey devours, haha

      • Arto says:

        Well, they have DJs these days, so that’s not so far removed, eh?

        You know, at least, that’s what I’ve heard, uh. Yeah.

        • Dave says:

          Haha, they have DJs? I haven’t been to a strip club in a long long time…. like 9 years. Man, that was a weird experience!

    • Arto says:

      Music and math do seem to go together, though don’t tell musicians that!

      I do suppose the snuff has gone out of style in most parts. Probably a good thing.

  4. ksbeth says:

    wow, what an interesting route he has taken. i do wish he would have hooked up with donna and become snuffy summer, however.

  5. markbialczak says:

    Dude can flat out play, Arto. Good call here. 🙂

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