A Juilliard grad, composer Conti wrote the signature theme for “Rocky,” “Gonna Fly Now,” which went gold in 1977, selling more than 500,000 units.
Super ‘Fly’: “John (Avildsen) was thinking of a score along the lines of Beethoven’s ‘Heroic Symphony.’ He viewed ‘Rocky’ as a fairy tale. I said, ‘Yeah, but it’s set in the streets of Philadelphia.’ A straight-ahead classical score didn’t seem appropriate. I used six trumpets for ‘Gonna Fly Now’ which was unusual at the time. You ask about inspiration, but when you have three weeks to write a theme, you just do it.”
Continuity: “Because Rocky does the same thing from film to film — there’s always going to be a fight scene and a training sequence — you can’t change the style of music so drastically that it makes you unfamiliar with the character. So you tweak it. In one sequel, we had kids singing ‘Gonna Fly Now,’ in ‘Rocky Balboa,’ we’re using more brass.”
Opening fanfare: “It evolved from John having to piece together a title sequence for a screening. The largeness of the letters promise so much. That this is the opening of something big. That the film will deliver.”