What Was the ‘Family Matter’s Theme Song?

Family Matters is a show that has broken boundaries, redefined the world of television sitcoms, and earned millions of fans of all ages. The show, which premiered on TV in 1989, went on to become the second-longest-running live-action U.S. sitcom with a predominantly African-American cast — with the title of longest-running going to The Jeffersons.

Family Matters introduced characters like Harriette Winslow and Steve Urkel into popular culture, and catchphrases such as “did I do that?” Helping to make the show memorable was the theme song, which managed to be both peppy and heartwarming.

‘Family Matters’ originated as a spinoff of ‘Perfect Strangers’

Estelle (Rosetta LeNoire), Rachel (Telma Hopkins), Harriette (Jo Marie Payton), Judy (Jaimee Foxworth), Eddie (Darius McCrary), Laura (Kellie Shanygne Williams), Richie (Bryton McClure), Urkel (Jaleel White) and Carl (Reginald VelJohnson)
Estelle (Rosetta LeNoire), Rachel (Telma Hopkins), Harriette (Jo Marie Payton), Judy (Jaimee Foxworth), Eddie (Darius McCrary), Laura (Kellie Shanygne Williams), Richie (Bryton McClure), Urkel (Jaleel White) and Carl (Reginald VelJohnson) | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

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When Family Matters premiered on television in 1989, very few people might have expected the show to really become a hit. The show was conceived as a spinoff of the show Perfect Strangers, and was based around the character of Harriette Winslow, the sassy, spunky matriarch of the Winslow family.

It is true that the series began on an unassuming note. But by the middle of the first season, viewers everywhere were well aware of the Winslow family — and of Steve Urkel, who quickly became the show’s breakout star, a pop culture phenomenon in and of himself.

Full of humor and heart, Family Matters focused on a middle-class African-American family in Chicago, Illinois. With talented character actors in the leading roles, the series ushered in a golden age of sitcoms, alongside other shows like Full House, The Cosby Show, and Step by Step.

Viewers who tuned into Family Matters would be treated not only to the joys and struggles of family life but also to the sounds of a theme song that brought them right into a warm, welcoming atmosphere. 

What was the theme song to ‘Family Matters’?

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The original theme song to Family Matters was written by Jesse Frederick, an established singer and songwriter who had worked on theme songs for a number of popular television productions. Frederick wrote the theme song, “As Days Go By” with his writing partner, composer Bennett Salvay.

According to Mental Floss, the first few episodes of Family Matters featured the music to Louis Armstrong’s iconic song “What a Wonderful World.” However, by the time the sixth episode rolled around, showrunners decided that the series needed a more sitcom-sounding opening theme, and Frederick’s song was utilized.

“As Days Go By” is a jazzy tune that features Frederick’s soulful voice in the foreground, with a chorus in the background. For the first few seasons, “As Days Go By” was an integral part of Family Matters. However, in the seventh season, showrunners once again decided to change things up, going without an opening theme and choosing to list the names of the cast and crew during each episode’s teaser scene. 

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With or without a theme song in place, Family Matters has managed to capture viewers’ hearts for decades. The show ultimately ran on television until 1998, and even after it went off the air, the series continued to run almost continuously in syndication.

To this day, new fans, many of whom weren’t alive when the show originally premiered, are discovering the joy and fun of Family Matters — and acquainting themselves with the peppy theme song “As Days Go By.”