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Cleveland Banjo Player Gets Break with ‘Drew Carey’ Theme Song

July 6, 1996

CLEVELAND (AP) _ The song Robert ``Mad Dog″ McGuire wrote as a joke turned out to be his big break.

His ``Moon Over Parma,″ a folksy tribute to the Cleveland area, is the theme song for ``The Drew Carey Show,″ an ABC sitcom set in Cleveland, Carey’s hometown.

Carey first heard McGuire playing the catchy tune on the banjo when he happened to stop at a local nightspot, the House of Swing. Now the 60-year-old McGuire _ who got the nickname ``Mad Dog″ from a former band leader after he started howling during a solo _ has Los Angeles music publishers wanting copies of his 13-year-old tune.

``I always thought of `Moon Over Parma’ as a bit of local humor,″ McGuire said. ``A Cleveland thing, and that’s it. But they’re not going to do it just to sell a few hundred copies in Cleveland. They must know something that I don’t.″

The song, about a guy who gives his girl a radish bouquet, dates back to 1983, when McGuire wrote it for a local comedy show on WJW-TV. Spoofing local suburbs like Parma, its has lines like ``We’re goin’ bowlin’, so don’t lose her in Solon″ that capture Carey’s homespun, working-class flavor.

The TV royalties for ``Moon Over Parma″ run about $750 to $1,100 per show, and there were 22 shows last season. It’s not enough for early retirement, but McGuire isn’t complaining.

``It’ll do,″ he said. ``I can take a day off with that. It’s kind of like having another job and not going to work.″

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