I keep trying to recall my favorites and can only name a handful. My favorites fall in the 20’s-60’s, from old Rags to Al Hirt, but you may have newer or older ones.
In response to the subject, if not the OP:
“Wipeout” is ever popular, and I’ve always loved “St. Elmo’s Fire” (although I’m not sure that’s old enough for you).
‘Green Onions’ - Booker T and the MGs
‘Walk dont run’ - i cant remember
‘Tequila’ is almost an instrumental.
I can’t think of any more right now. Someone else will come along shortly with a bunch more I’m sure.
Just what popped into mind on reading the thread title:
Take Five (IIRC the lyrics were written later, possibly by another artist).
Telstar - Tornados
Let there be drums - Sandy Nelson
Peter Gunne - Duane Eddy.
Just about everything by Duane Eddy in the early 60’s in fact.
Apache - Shadows again loads of instrumentals by them.
Dick Dale - Too much stuff to mention but he invented surf music long before the Beach Boys were around.
The Ventures were big on instrumentals.
“Walk Don’t Run” was by the Ventures, as was the big 1968 hit “Hawaii Five-O”.
There was "Classical Gas" by Mason Williams and "Love Is blue" by Paul Mauriat. And the T-Bones had a smash in 1965 with "No Matter What Shape Your Stomach's In", from a classic Alka-Seltzer commercial.
A few movie themes received considerable air play in their day, “Star Wars” “Rocky” and “The Magnificent Seven” among them. I remember a few stations played the “Superman” in that movie’s first release.
I would have to agree with “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris as the best, though. How many out there can hear the drum solo in your head right now?
1962 was the year in which the most instrumentals topped Billboard’s Hot 100. They were:
“The Stripper” by David Rose
“Telstar” by the Tornadoes
“Stranger on the Shore” by Mr Acker Bilk
The biggest instrumental chart topper in the past 50 years was Perez Prado’s “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White,” which was a landmark recording. Not only did it hold #1 for 10 weeks in 1955, but it was displaced by “Rock Around the Clock,” (8 weeks). It was the end of one era and the beginning of another. Perez Prado would later top the charts with “Patricia,” which incidentally is the theme some for one of HBO’s erotic series (“Real Sex,” or “Sex Bytes”)
Percy Faith held #1 for nine weeks in 1960 with the theme from “A Summer Place,” which is the theme music in Animal House when (I think) Dean Wormer’s wife is about to get nailed. (You have to be familiar with “A Summer Place” to get the relevance.)
Also in 1960, Lawrence Weld reached #1 with “Calcutta.”
Bert Kaempfert hit #1 with “Wonderland by Night” (1960 or 1961).
Chuck Mangione had a big hit (don’t recall whether or not it reached #1) in 1979 or so with “Feels So Good.”
Vangelis reached the top spot with the theme from “Chariots of Fire” in 1982 (or so).
Herb Alpert hit #1 with “Rise,” in 1980 or thereabouts. Ironically, his first (and only other) #1 from 1968 was a vocal, “This Guy’s in Love with You.”
The Walter Murphy Band reached #1 @1977 with “A Fifth of Beethoven.”
Dave “Baby” Cortez hit #1 in the late 50’s with “The Happy Organ.”
I think the longest running #1 of all time was entitled “Frenesi” from the early 1950s. I don’t recall the artist, but it held #1 for 13 weeks. (That is, I think it was an instrumental, but I’ve never actually heard that one.)
Er, make that Lawrence Welk.
I see “Apache” was also mentioned. I really liked the Sugarhill Gang’s version. I would play that song over and over in the Pizza Hut juke box, much to the dismay of the clients.
Oh, and one more, although it wasn’t a hit: Jeff Wayne’s “The Eve of War,” which was the B-side of Justin Hayward’s “Forever Autumn” from 1978’s “War of the Worlds”
“Grazin’ in the Grass”
I realize that those two had versions that had words, but I’ve heard the instrumentals. There’s also another one I can’t think of, that features piano prominently. I think a Motown group did the version with words.
I’m pretty sure there was an instrumental called “Stardust.”
And who could forget Frank Mills’ “Music Box Dancer” from around 1983. (I think it might have gone as high as #3 or #4.)
How about “Happy Organ” by Dave Baby Cortez?
“Popcorn” - Hot Butter (circa 1972?)
“Amazing Grace” - Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (same time)
“Canadian Sunset” - Roger Williams (gah, no idea, but I still have the 45!)
Here’s a few not already mentioned:
Sleepwalk – Santo & Johnny
The In Crowd – The Ramsey Lewis Trio
A Thousand Miles Away – Santo & Johnny
Rebel Rouser – Duane Eddy
Soul Finger (well, there’s a little bit of vocal) – I forget
Let There Be Drums – I forget
1952 - Blue Tango by Leroy Anderson went gold, I believe the first instrumental to do so. Anderson also wrote a slew of popular instrumentals: Sleigh Ride, The Syncopated Clock, The Typewriter, and many more.
1967(?) - Cast Your Fate to the Winds (performed by Vince Guaraldi and his group, I think) was popular.
Well, I beat Coldy in with these…
“La Villa Strangiato” and “YYZ,” Rush.
My favorite oldie instrumentals:
Stick Shift – The Duals
South Of The Border – Herb Alpert & The T.J.B.
Secret Agent Man – The Ventures
Lots of others, but these came to mind first.
Linus and Lucy (Vince Guaraldi, but also done by David Benoit in the late 80s.)
Classical Gas by Mason Williams
Pink Panther by Henry Mancini
Manhattan Skyline from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I don’t know if it ever saw airplay, but the University of Southern California marching band used it for football games.
I second a lot of these listed here. Of the ones I read, my favorite is “Pipeline”.
I’ve got a question to ask of the people in this thread. I’m not a country music fanatic,but I’ve been trying to find the name of an instrumental song by Buck Owens for quite a time.(Buck Owens?!) I’ve only heard it twice on the radio in over 15 years, and never caught the title. I can only guess it was done in the late sixties and may have been a live rendition. The only other clue is it sounds very Southern Rock,way ahead of it’s time. Any help? thanks.
I’ve always dug that acid rock chestnut “Hocus Pocus” by Focus. This song contains yodeling. How cool is that?