"The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle" is the opening theme song written by Sherwood Schwartz and George Wyle created to set the premise of "Gilligan's Island." Considered the most famous and most recognized TV theme song in television history, it was composed to replace the show's original calypso theme song created by film composer John Williams, most famous for the signature scores of the "Superman," "Star Wars" and "Close Encounters" soundtracks. During the change, the original length of the S.S. Minnow's voyage was changed from "a six-hour ride" to "a three-hour tour". Williams was also credited as the composer of the incidental music for the show from 1964 to 1965, replaced by Gerald Fried for the remaining 1965 to 1967 seasons.
After the first season, the theme song was re-edited from "and the rest" to "with the Professor and Mary Ann, who were then considered "second-billed co-stars", but Bob Denver, who played Gilligan, personally went to the studio and asked that the characters of Russell Johnson and Dawn Wells be added to the opening credits. Since his contract allowed him to choose where he could be placed in the credits, he was willing to have his name placed last to show his support to his co-stars. Although the studio was resistant at first, they relented and had the opening reshot with the altered lyrics and the faces of Johnson and Wells added to the sequence. (Coincidentally, the sequence was also updated as the series was being converted to color.) According to Dawn Wells, it was years after the show ended that this revelation was discovered.
During the first season version, the theme song was recorded by The Wellingtons, who went on to appear in the Second Season episode, Don't Bug the Mosquitoes, but during the Second Season, it was re-recorded by The Eligibles.
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.
The mate was a mighty sailin' man,
The Skipper brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day
For a three hour tour,
A three hour tour.
The weather started getting rough,
the tiny ship was tossed.
If not for the courage of the fearless crew,
The Minnow would be lost,
The Minnow would be lost.
The ship set ground on the shore of this
Uncharted desert isle
The Skipper too,
The Millionaire and his Wife,
The Movie Star,
The Professor and Mary Ann,
Here on Gilligan's Isle.
Now, this is the tale of our castaways,
They're here for a long, long time.
They'll have to make the best of things,
It's an uphill climb.
The first mate and his Skipper too
Will do their very best
To make the others comfortable
In their tropic island nest.
No phone, no lights, no motor car,
not a single luxury,
Like Robinson Crusoe,
It's primitive as can be.
So join us here each week my friends,
You're sure to get a smile,
From seven stranded castaways
Here on Gilligan's Isle!