It’s impossible to think about the hit NBC sitcom Friends without humming the theme song, “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts. The lyrics perfectly spoke to the point of the series, which was exploring adult friendships and all the triumphs and tragedies of becoming an adult.
The song says, “I’ll be there for you (When the rain starts to pour)/I’ll be there for you (Like I’ve been there before)/I’ll be there for you (‘Cause you’re there for me too).” It all sounds so positive and upbeat plus has a tempo to match.
There’s just one problem: The Rembrandts singer Danny Wilde said it’s this exact song that made the band break up. Here’s why creating the Friends anthem became their downfall.
Who were The Rembrandts?
Before Friends came along and made them mega-famous, The Rembrandts was an alternative band with a modest following who started making music in 1989. The duo was made up of Danny Wilde and Phil Solem.
Most bands could only dream of finding the success they did with a catchy song on a hit show. But for a band with fans in the alternative scene, the newfound notoriety was slightly problematic. “We went from being the darlings of the alternative scene to a proper mainstream band,” Wilde told Independent UK in an interview.
“Before Friends we’d been playing all these underground venues. But ‘I’ll Be There’ was so huge that we ended up playing stadiums almost overnight… I think we lost a lot of our original fans at that point, and many people stopped taking us seriously.”
The band never expected to become famous from ‘Friends’
As Wilde explained in the interview, The Rembrandts didn’t think anyone would know they were the band behind the song. They hadn’t even written it in the first place.
“We liked [the song] immediately, and it had some good people working on it. So we thought ‘Why not? Nobody will even know it was us, anyway’. During the first season [of Friends], we weren’t even listed on the credits,” he continued.
But the song became more and more popular, which led to a few unfortunate events. “I remember thinking it was awesome, a really cool little pop tune. It had great harmonies and this upbeat vibe… It was only when it all blew up and we became known for this Monkees-style jingle, that the shine kind of wore off.”
The Rembrandts broke up because of the song ‘I’ll Be There for You’
Besides alienating core fans and becoming annoyed with their new commercial success, The Rembrandts began experiencing turmoil between themselves. Singer Wilde fully credits the Friends theme song with the band’s eventual breakup in 1997.
“You could say [‘I’ll Be There for You’] became something of a curse, yes,” he admitted. “We were tired of it being the only thing we were known for, and we were tired of being on the road.”
He continued: “After the third album came out and did so well we toured for three years. We weren’t writing any new songs and we weren’t spending any time in the studio. The whole thing became a grind. There was no outright animosity between us, but we needed a break from each other.”
Wilde has mixed feelings about his success
Even though the song became a curse, it also made Wilde a wealthy musician. He admitted during the interview that he “managed to put both kids through college” thanks in part to “I’ll Be There for You.”
It also left him a legacy. “With the repeats, that show is sure to outlive me,” he said. “But I guess that’s kind of cool, isn’t it? That way, The Rembrandts will never be forgotten.”