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Ask Billboard: Instrumentals, Part 2

Readers add to last week's list of hit instrumental songs from the '60s through the '90s, including one by U2's Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr.

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Gary Trust at askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Thanks to all who posted comments below last week’s Ask Billboard regarding hit instrumental songs. With so many e-mails received since, as well, let’s devote this week’s edition to expanding the list of songs that, simply, let the music play.


Hey Gary,

I just wanted to add a few entries regarding the query sent by Lynn McKeag.

Jan Hammer: “Theme from Miami Vice” peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985.

Harold Faltermeyer: “Axel F” from the “Beverly Hills Cop” soundtrack peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100 in 1985.

Herbie Hancock: “Rockit” from his 1983 album “Future Shock” did not become a mainstream hit, stalling at No. 71 on the Hot 100 (although it did peak at No. 6 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 1 on Dance/Club Play Songs) but has become a classic, nonetheless. It also nabbed five MTV Awards [editor’s note: happy 28th birthday, MTV, tomorrow, Aug. 1!] in 1984 for its wildly creative video directed by Godley & Creme.


Christopher Brisson

Hi Gary,

This e-mail is in response to Lynn McKeag’s request for instrumentals from the ’70s and ’80s (even though some of the songs listed in the e-mail were from the ’60s). Here are a few more. I have included some Canadian and British hits, as well as U.S. hits:

“Joy” Apollo 100
“Outa Space” Billy Preston
“The Entertainer (Theme from The Sting)” Marvin Hamlisch
“Nadia’s Theme (The Young and the Restless)” Barry DeVorzon and Perry Botkin, Jr.
“Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” Meco
“Feels So Good” Chuck Mangione
“Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)” Deodato
“Dueling Banjos (Deliverance)” Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell
“Tubular Bells (Theme from The Exorcist)” Mike Oldfield
“Theme from S.W.A.T.” Rhythm Heritage
“The Homecoming” Hagood Hardy
“Bongo Rock” The Incredible Bongo Band
“Morning Dance” Spyro Gyra
“Dolannes Melodie” Jean-Claude Borelly
“Hocus Pocus” Focus
“Music Box Dancer” Frank Mills
“The Ranger’s Waltz” The Mom and Dads
“Eye Level” Simon Park Orchestra
“Amazing Grace” Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Pipes, Drums and Band
“Frankenstein” The Edgar Winter Group
“Magic Fly” Space
“Autobahn” Kraftwerk
“Chariots of Fire” Vangelis

Honourable mentions: The following songs are mainly instrumental, with only a few lyrics:
“TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)” MFSB featuring the Three Degrees
“The Hustle” Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony
“Gonna Fly Now (Theme From Rocky)” Bill Conti
“Disco Lucy” Wilton Place Street Band
“Mouldy Old Dough” Lieutenant Pigeon


Blair Buchta
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Hi Gary,

When I read Lynn McKeag’s question about ’70s and ’80s instrumentals, I thought, “How exciting to help out in a subject I know a bit about!”

With my ’80s radio show, “Stuck in the ’80s,” I actually ran a special show about “The Instrumental ’80s: Songs that didn’t involve TV, movies … or words.” “Rise” was on there, plus other popular tracks like Duran Duran’s “Tiger Tiger” (a B-side of “New Moon on Monday” and a hit in Japan), “Pimpf” by Depeche Mode (from “Music for the Masses”), “Elegia” by New Order (featured in the film “Pretty in Pink”), two instrumentals featured in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Taking the Day Off” by General Public and “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” by the Dream Academy, the Smiths’ “Oscillate Wildly,” select works from the Art of Noise, including its cover of “Peter Gunn” (a No. 50 Hot 100 hit in 1986), “Follow That Bliss” and “Work That Skirt” by the B-52’s, “Switch 625” by Def Leppard (or the second half of “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak,” if you will, from the band’s “High ‘n’ Dry” album), “Lily Was Here” by the Eurythmics’ David A. Stewart and saxophonist Candy Dulfer (released in November 1989 and a No. 11 hit on the Hot 100 in 1991) and Paul Hardcastle’s “Rainforest” (No. 57 in 1985), to name a few.

Don’t forget Chuck Mangione’s “Feels So Good” (No. 4 Hot 100, No. 1 AC in 1978) and “Give It All You Got” (No. 18 Hot 100, No. 1 AC in 1980), “Morning Dance” by Spyro Gyra (No. 24 in 1979) and “Music Box Dancer” by Frank Mills (No. 3 Hot 100 in 1979).

You could, for good measure, also throw in Meco’s take on the “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” (No. 1 Hot 100 in 1977), “Theme From Close Encounters” and “Themes From the Wizard of Oz” (both top 40 hits in 1978), “Empire Strikes Back” (Medley)” (No. 18 Hot 100 in 1980), plus “Theme From Mission Impossible” by U2‘s Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. (No. 8 Hot 100 in 1996).

Hope this helps!

Ron Raymond, Jr.
Music Director, WMPG-FM
University of Southern Maine
Portland, Maine