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May 7, 2020 10:27 am  #1


Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

They were quite literally too much for words. And they used to be huge hits in the 40s, 50s and 60s. By the mid-70s, they began to fade away and now I’m not sure if they’ve made the charts in the past half century.
 
Instrumentals were once part of every Top 40 station playlist and the titles are legendary. “Love Is Blue” by Paul Muriat, “Classical Gas” from Mason Williams, “Cast Your Fate To The Wind” by Sounds Orchestral, “Green Onions” and “Time Is Tight,” the Booker T classics, “Soulful Strut” from Young-Holt Unlimited, “Nadia’s Theme,” the Olympic routine music for a great athlete that later became a soap opera title tune (but was originally called "Cotton's Theme" from a movie named “Bless The Beasts & The Children"), and two different versions of The Ventures’ “Walk Don’t Run.”
 
Just to name a few.
 
And then there’s the all time classic, “Theme From A Summer Place” from Percy Faith, which was not only a #1 hit, but the top song of the entire year in 1960. Not sure that’s happened since.
 
But outside of a few anomalies, mostly from hit movies, the instrumental on the radio had largely disappeared by the mid-70s. My question is: why? What happened to public taste or record company logic to make this genre of music suddenly fall silent on the charts? I like singing along to my favorite tune, too, but I always appreciated – and even bought a few – of those old lyric-less 45s.
 
Why do you think they disappeared?

 

May 7, 2020 1:03 pm  #2


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

The same reason kids would prefer to sit all day long and text messages rather than go play sandlot baseball.  Bob Dylan had it figured out a long time ago:  "The Times They Continue To Change."  And not necessarily for the better.

 

May 7, 2020 2:26 pm  #3


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Instrumentals were my favorites through the years.  I found your list missing a lot of my favorites so I’ve listed a few more here.  Since you mentioned Top 40, I pretty much stuck to that for my list and left out The Dorseys, Liberace, Miller, etc.
 
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass - Lonely Bull, Taste Of Honey, Tijuana Taxi, Zorba The Greek
Apollo 100 - Joy
B. Bumble - Bumble Boogie
Baja Marimba Band
Baxter, Les - Poor People Of Paris
Magic Organ - Street Fair
Mr. Acker Bilk - Stranger On The Shore
Bill Combo Black's
Brass Ring - Dis-advantages Of You
Don Costa - Never On Sunday
Duane Eddy - Rebel-'Rouser
Bent Fabric ... Alley Cat
Ferrante & Teicher - Exodus, Midnight Cowboy
Jorgen Ingmann - Apache
Horst Jankowski - Walk In The Black Forest
Moe Koffman Quartette - Swingin' Shepherd Blues
Los Indios Tabajaras - Maria Elena
Love Unlimited Orchestra - Love's Theme
Marketts - Out Of Limits
Frank Mills - Music Box Dancer
Perez Prado - Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White
Ramrods - (Ghost) Riders In The Sky
David Rose - The Stripper
String-a-longs - Wheels
T-bones - No Matter What Shape (Your Stomachs In)
Tornadoes - Telstar
Vangelis - Chariots Of Fire
Lawrence Welk - Calcutta
Mason Williams - Classical Gas
Link Wray- Raw-Hide, Rumble
 
As to what happened, they went the way of anything which might be considered music.  Pop music and R&R transitioned to protest and acid rock.  The norm had to be rejected.  Now for instrumental music, you tie trash can lids to your shoes and stomp around.

 

May 7, 2020 2:53 pm  #4


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Two more obscure ones:

Keem-o-Sabe by Electric Indian (a studio group that reportedly included Daryl Hall of a future Hall and Oates) and Jerry "Piano" Smith, who hit with "Truck Stop" in 1969.

     Thread Starter
 

May 7, 2020 4:17 pm  #5


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

I too was a fan of the instrumentals A few more perhaps
A Swingin' Safari.......Billy Vaughn
Route 66 Theme.....Nelson Riddle
Mission Impossible......Lalo Schifrin
Watermelon Man....Mongo Santamaria
Washington Square.....Village Stompers
The Pink Panther Theme.....Henry Mancini
A Walk In The Black Forest.....Horst Jankowski
Take 5....Dave Brubeck
many many more

 

May 7, 2020 4:43 pm  #6


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

there's no profanity

 

May 8, 2020 12:11 am  #7


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Beverly Cardinals wrote:

there's no profanity

and, a drum machine without bad poetry does not hip-hop make?
 

Last edited by gopher (May 8, 2020 12:14 am)

 

May 8, 2020 9:08 am  #8


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

aflem wrote:

They were quite literally too much for words. And they used to be huge hits in the 40s, 50s and 60s. By the mid-70s, they began to fade away and now I’m not sure if they’ve made the charts in the past half century.
 
Why do you think they disappeared?

Kenny G.
 

 

May 8, 2020 2:47 pm  #9


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

aflem wrote:

Two more obscure ones:

Keem-o-Sabe by Electric Indian (a studio group that reportedly included Daryl Hall of a future Hall and Oates) and Jerry "Piano" Smith, who hit with "Truck Stop" in 1969.

 
Got both of ‘em but my version of Truck Stop is by Magic Organ.
 
 

memphis boy wrote:

I too was a fan of the instrumentals A few more perhaps
A Swingin' Safari.......Billy Vaughn
Route 66 Theme.....Nelson Riddle
Mission Impossible......Lalo Schifrin
Watermelon Man....Mongo Santamaria
Washington Square.....Village Stompers
The Pink Panther Theme.....Henry Mancini
A Walk In The Black Forest.....Horst Jankowski
Take 5....Dave Brubeck
many many more

 
How could I forget Washington Square.....Village Stompers?  That was one I looked long and hard for on CD.  Found it on the disc “Havin a 60's Hootenanny”.  Don’t know what  Washington Square has to do with hootenanny.
 
Also looks like I missed a biggie in my list, Pipeline by Chantays.
 

 

May 8, 2020 7:58 pm  #10


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Taz wrote:

aflem wrote:

Two more obscure ones:

Keem-o-Sabe by Electric Indian (a studio group that reportedly included Daryl Hall of a future Hall and Oates) and Jerry "Piano" Smith, who hit with "Truck Stop" in 1969.

 
Got both of ‘em but my version of Truck Stop is by Magic Organ.
 
 

memphis boy wrote:

I too was a fan of the instrumentals A few more perhaps
A Swingin' Safari.......Billy Vaughn
Route 66 Theme.....Nelson Riddle
Mission Impossible......Lalo Schifrin
Watermelon Man....Mongo Santamaria
Washington Square.....Village Stompers
The Pink Panther Theme.....Henry Mancini
A Walk In The Black Forest.....Horst Jankowski
Take 5....Dave Brubeck
many many more

 
How could I forget Washington Square.....Village Stompers?  That was one I looked long and hard for on CD.  Found it on the disc “Havin a 60's Hootenanny”.  Don’t know what  Washington Square has to do with hootenanny.
 
Also looks like I missed a biggie in my list, Pipeline by Chantays.
 

I used to play Washington Square for my daughters driving to school years ago. As I posted this last night my 24 yr old was visiting and of course remembered it. I always thought it was odd that a, I assume,  Greenwich Village folk band playing a song about Washington Square would at the end be playing Dixieland Jazz!
 

 

May 8, 2020 11:20 pm  #11


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Here are a few more..."Let's Go Trippin'" by Dick Dale & Deltones, a minor hit in late '61, but a long career for the artist.  I'll also mention his Cashbox #102 hit.  Not too much as a single but "Miserlou" was a key part of the 3X Platinum soundtrack LP from the movie "Pulp Fiction".  I still recall being in the theater and jumping to my feet when it came blasting out of the big house speakers behind the opening credits.
What?!? I didn't see any mention of "Wipeout", the two-times hit by the Surfaris.
Speaking of surf hits, I'll also throw in "Penetration" by the Pyramids,  a Top 20 hit in early 1964.
"Tuff" by Ace Cannon.
Gots to mention a big one, "Memphis" by Lonnie Mack

 

Last edited by Jim Southern (May 8, 2020 11:22 pm)

 

May 9, 2020 8:54 am  #12


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Raunchy....Bill Justis
 

 

May 10, 2020 5:44 am  #13


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Beverly Cardinals wrote:

there's no profanity

the infamous exception being just past the one minute mark on Duane Eddy's "Forty Miles of Bad Road"
 

 

May 10, 2020 8:20 am  #14


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

I made a list of the most famous instrumentals for playing in a music club.
So far, it has 460 items. From Africaan Beat, Air, Air Mail Special, Albatross, through Ja-Da, Jalopy, Java, ... Orange Blossom Special,...to Yelow Bird, Yellow Jacket, Zambesi and Zorba The Greek.

I say this about instrumentals:
The instrumentals are nice, but there is a problem with them. Few ordinary listeners know their names.
Few ordinary listeners can name them correctly...

 

May 10, 2020 10:54 am  #15


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Just a quick note on how deep this can go.  I have two 3-pack CD's of instrumental hits, spotlighting the years 1961 & 1962.  All tracks were researched and actually made the Billboard Hot 100.
1961....86 hits
1962....92 hits

 

May 10, 2020 12:58 pm  #16


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Between Elvis and the Beatles.       Coincidence?

 

May 10, 2020 4:24 pm  #17


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

All those songs and no Last Date

 

May 10, 2020 6:20 pm  #18


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

How could we forget Last Date? One of my mom's favorites
 

 

May 13, 2020 7:29 pm  #19


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Thought I'd mention a couple more that I heard last weekend on Marion Rodrigues' Soul Jazz show on G98.7,  Wonderland By Night by Bert Kaempfert and Soul Coaxing by Raymond Lefèvre and His Orchestra. The songs caused a wave of nostalgia to come over me as I certainly remembered the melodies, but I wouldn't have known the titles or artists without the DJ's help. I highly recommend checking out her show which is on Sundays from 10 to noon. 
http://g987fm.com/marion-rodrigues

Last edited by Roman (May 14, 2020 8:26 am)

 

May 15, 2020 11:21 am  #20


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

It's nice to see a mention of "Soul Coaxing" by Raymond Lefevre in this topic.  It was a staple of the old board with numerous discussions posted.  I seem to recall that it placed pretty high on the various charts that showed up on Labor Day and anywhere else.

 

May 15, 2020 3:27 pm  #21


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Hi. First-time poster with a few more...

Pick Up The Pieces - Average White Band
The 'In' Crowd - Ramsey Lewis Trio
Desafinado - Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd
Breezin' - George Benson
Love Theme from Romeo & Juliet - Henry Mancini
Rise - Herb Alpert
Misty - Erroll Garner
Feels So Good - Chuck Mangione
Walk On The Wild Side - Jimmy Smith/BB cond by Oliver Nelson
Tequila - Champs
Moonglow/Theme from Picnic - Morris Stoloff
Angela (Theme from Taxi) - Bob James
Songbird - Kenny G
Sleepwalk - Santo & Johnny

Last edited by mike marshall (May 15, 2020 3:56 pm)

 

May 15, 2020 4:41 pm  #22


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

I believe the last instrumental to make the Top Forty was "Chariots of Fire" by Vangelis which was Number One for one week in May 1982.  Open to discussion

 

May 15, 2020 5:51 pm  #23


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Instrumental hits have been few and far between over the past few decades, but there have been others ... the following article lists six that made Billboard's top 10 from 1983 to 2014. Roman will probably like the comment about Kenny G. https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png
https://medium.com/cuepoint/what-do-the-harlem-shake-star-wars-gary-glitter-hawaii-five-o-and-barry-white-have-in-common-542dc7c0c545

 

May 15, 2020 8:19 pm  #24


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Another tune that comes to mind is one of my favourites, huge, in the late '50s/early '60s, a track which became Ahmad Jamal's signature song -- Poinciana.
It was also a lifesaver one night at CKKW in Kitchener-Waterloo.
I ran out of cigarettes, went down one floor to street level on the way to the restaurant a couple of doors up the street, as Jamal tickled the 88s.
The front door lock on the Dunker building clicked behind me, just as I realized I'd, yup, forgotten my keys.
Rushed to get ciggies and decided to climb the fire escape at the rear of the building, hoping the window in the music library was unlocked. It was. By the time I got back to Master, there was still about a minute to go on the record that clocked in at just over eight minutes.
Thank goodness for Poinciana.

 

May 15, 2020 10:43 pm  #25


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Just to chip in on the Kenny G mention...
"Songbird"...#4  --- 5/87
"Silhouette"... #14 --- 11/88
"Forever In Love"... #16 --- 1/93
I'll also second the inclusion of "Poinciana".  It was in the AFRTS library and was a big favorite at my base statioin in Wakkanai, Japan.

 

May 16, 2020 9:05 pm  #26


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

mike marshall wrote:

Another tune that comes to mind is one of my favourites, huge, in the late '50s/early '60s, a track which became Ahmad Jamal's signature song -- Poinciana.
It was also a lifesaver one night at CKKW in Kitchener-Waterloo.
I ran out of cigarettes, went down one floor to street level on the way to the restaurant a couple of doors up the street, as Jamal tickled the 88s.
The front door lock on the Dunker building clicked behind me, just as I realized I'd, yup, forgotten my keys.
Rushed to get ciggies and decided to climb the fire escape at the rear of the building, hoping the window in the music library was unlocked. It was. By the time I got back to Master, there was still about a minute to go on the record that clocked in at just over eight minutes.
Thank goodness for Poinciana.

The thing I find amazing about this story is that even knowing that the door locked behind you and you could potentially lose your job for sneaking out if there was dead air, you still went to get the cigarettes first! I'd be more worried about getting back in, but then again, I'm not a smoker.

I love stories like this!

Last edited by aflem (May 16, 2020 9:06 pm)

     Thread Starter
 

May 17, 2020 6:30 am  #27


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

actually, to be fair, they haven't gone anywhere. depends upon which "chart" you're looking at, i suppose. jazz, americana, and jam bands, among other genres, continue to create and perform popular, if not "hit" instrumental songs today.

for example, last night i saw the marcus king band (fairly popular with the youngsters, i believe) play "thespian espionage" on ditty tv's concert series.

Last edited by gopher (May 17, 2020 6:40 am)

 

May 17, 2020 5:54 pm  #28


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Yes, instrumentals are great, but can they compete with the sounds of nature?
Listen to - Sweet People - "Et les oiseaux chantaient" (And The Birds Were Singing) (1978).

 

May 17, 2020 8:13 pm  #29


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

This article - although it's from 2016 - says only one instrumental has made it to #1 on Billboard since 1985. It's a song called "Harlem Shake" by Baauer. Since then, as far as I know, zilch. 

Instrumental hits that reached No. 1 on Billboard charts

     Thread Starter
 

May 19, 2020 9:10 pm  #30


Re: Whatever Happened To Instrumentals?

Magnificent Seven - Al Caiola

 

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