Between late 1979 and the end of 1989, there were nearly 500 (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s that reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100 just one time, a list that includes Soft Cell, Gary Numan, Timbuk 3, The Church, Bronski Beat, Nik Kershaw, The Buggles, The Waitresses, Ultravox and two different bands named The Silencers. Once a week, I’ll highlight a (real) one-hit wonder for you.
In April 2004, I put together a theme show for my little 80s radio program, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine). This wasn’t your ordinary theme show – it was actually about themes, TV themes to be exact. The show was called DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ADJUST YOUR SET. In the course of 120 minutes, I played a total of 63 80s TV themes, along with some bits from shows like WKRP IN CINCINNATI and CHEERS. I also played a special remix on TeeVee Toons Records (later TVT Records), named after a line in one of the favorite cartoons of my youth (THE JETSONS), “Jane, Get Me Off This Crazy Thing!” It was co-produced by Ivan Ivan (who produced Book Of Love’s wonderful debut album), and featured TV themes from the 50s and 60s.
Fast forward 12-and-a-half years, and on tomorrow night’s show (10.23.2016), I’m going to revisit the show – DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ADJUST YOUR SET: THE SERIES FINALE. In listening to the 2004 show this week, apparently I concentrated more on quantity than quality, but this time I’ll bring back the coolest and most memorable themes of the 80s, and some I didn’t get to last time, including “Falling” by Julee Cruise (the vocal version of the theme from TWIN PEAKS), and an entire set dedicated to 80s TV theme show legend, Mike Post.
One song I did get to last time and will play again tomorrow night was the biggest TV theme song of the 80s, and the last instrumental to reach No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Hot 100 singles chart until 2013 – The “Miami Vice Theme” by Jan Hammer.
MIAMI VICE, starring Don Johnson, Philip Michael Thomas and Edward James Olmos was prolly the flashiest (and grittiest?) crime drama of the decade, and was one of the biggest TV shows during the second half of the 80s. The show debuted on NBC in September 1984, and in August 1985, the show’s theme, by the Prague-born American musician, composer and producer, was released.
While Jan Hammer will forever be best known for his Synthpop work on MIAMI VICE, his specialty has been Experimental music and Prog Rock, and over the years, he has contributed to and collaborated on several albums with the NYC Jazz / Rock Fusion group, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, legendary Rocker Jeff Beck, Jazz Fusion guitarist Al Di Meola, plus work with Carlos Santana, Joni Mitchell, Mick Jagger (on his 1985 solo album, SHE’S THE BOSS), Journey’s Neil Schon, the late, great Clarence Clemons and many more.
In August 1985, the popular theme from MIAMI VICE was released as a single, in advance of the TV soundtrack. Another song that would appear on the soundtrack, “Smuggler’s Blues” by Glenn Frey, originally appeared on his 1984 album, THE ALLNIGHTER, but due to its inclusion on the TV show, it became a Top 15 hit in late June 1985.
Jan Hammer’s “Miami Vice Theme” debuted on the Hot 100 in early September 1985, reaching the Top 40 a couple of weeks later. It was climbing the Top 10 this week in October, and in November 1985, it spent a week at No. 1 and a total of 22 weeks on the chart. It was also a big multi-format hit, charting on BILLBOARD’s Adult Contemporary, Dance, Rock and even the R&B chart, where it reached No. 10.
Around the globe, the “Miami Vice Theme” reached the Top 10 in the U.K., Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland. And though his follow-up from the MIAMI VICE soundtrack, “Crockett’s Theme,” was a big hit in the U.K., Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, and Holland (where it spent four weeks at No. 1), the “Miami Vice Theme” was the only hit Jan Hammer had on the Hot 100.
With music from Jan Hammer, Glenn Frey (“Smuggler’s Blues” and the No. 2 hit, “You Belong To The City”), Phil Collins, Tina Turner and more, the first MIAMI VICE soundtrack spent 11 weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s album chart. It was the biggest TV soundtrack ever until Disney Channel’s HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL in 2006.
On top of composing the theme for MIAMI VICE and music for 90 of its 112 episodes, Jan Hammer has composed and produced music for at least 14 films, and 20 episodes for a popular early 90s British television show called CHANCER, starring Academy Award nominee Clive Owen.
Jan Hammer turned 68 this year, is still working nearly 50 years after his start in the music business. In a 2014 interview with ROLLING STONE about MIAMI VICE and the show’s 30th anniversary, Jan was asked about the show’s legacy (and that of his one American hit), and he said, “We definitely shook up the TV world. You can still feel certain aftershocks, even at this late date. [Musical] shades of it show up here and there, but it’s more of an intangible thing. I get [Google News] alerts with reviews, and they’ll say, ‘There’s this synth, and it’s very much Jan Hammer-like…’ It’s really amusing. And then I’ll go and listen to it and I’m like, ‘Yeah, they have a point’.”