No. 1 Instrumentals

Since 1950, how many instrumentals have claimed the # 1 spot on Billboard’s weekly list? Have any ever done it twice, either by the same or a different artist?

This will probably get better results in Cafe Society.

Off to Cafe Society.

DrMatrix General Questions Moderator

In the UK, as far as I am aware, we have:

O Mein Papa Eddie Calvert (Jan 1954)
Let’s Have Another Party Winifred Atwell (Dec 1954)
Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White Perez Prado (Apr 1955)
Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White Eddie Calvert (May 1955)
Poor People Of Paris Winifred Atwell (Apr 1956)
Side Saddle Russ Conway (Mar 1959)
Roulette Russ Conway (Jun 1959)
Apache The Shadows* (Aug 1960)
On The Rebound Floyd Cramer (May 1961)
Kon-Tiki The Shadows (Oct 1961)
Wonderful Land The Shadows (Mar 1962)
Nut Rocker B Bumble & The Stingers (May 1962)
Telstar The Tornados (Oct 1962)
Dance On! The Shadows (Jan 1963)
Diamonds Jet Harris & Tony Meehan (Jan 1963)
Foot Tapper The Shadows (Mar 1963)
The Good The Bad & the Ugly Hugo Montenegro (Nov 1968)
Albatross Fleetwood Mac (Jan 1969)
Amazing Grace Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Apr 1972)
Eye Level Simon Park Orchestra (Sep 1973)

The above list may contain errors & omissions for which I apologise in advance. I was unable to locate a definitive breakdown of No. 1 instrumentals.

Love Is Blue by Paul Mauriat in 1968 comes to mind…

Also Wonderland by Night by Bert Kampfert in 1961.

Thanks to my handy dandy Joel Whitburn collection, including “Top Pop singles 1940-1955” and “Top Pop Artists & Singles 1955-1978” and “Top 40 hits 1955-1995,”
here’s what we get, including the week it peaked at #1 (or the middle of its run at the top if it stayed longer)

1950 - 4/21 “Third Man Theme” Anton Karas

1952 - 5/9 “Blue Tango” LeRoy Anderson
1952 - 6/7 “Delicado” Percy Faith

1953 - 5/9 “Song from Moulin Rouge” Percy Faith

1955 - 4/20 “Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White” Perez Prado
1955 - 5/4 “Unchained Melody” Les Baxter
1955 - 10/19 “Autumn Leaves” Roger Williams

1956 - 2/15 “Lisbon Antigua” Nelson Riddle
1956 - 3/7 “The Poor People of Paris” Les Baxter
1956 - 5/23 “Moonglow and Theme from ‘Picnic’” Morris Stoloff

1958 - 3/8 “Tequila” The Champs
1958 - 7/19 “Patricia” Perez Prado

1959 - 5/17 “The Happy Organ” Dave “Baby” Cortez
1959 - 9/27 “Sleep Walk” Santo & Johnny

1960 - 2/28 “The Theme from ‘A Summer’s Place’” Percy Faith

1961 - 1/15 “Wonderland by Night” Bert Kaempfert
1961 - 2/19 “Calcutta” Lawrence Welk

1962 - 5/26 “Stranger on the Shore” Mr. Acker Bilk
1962 - 7/7 “The Stripper” David Rose
1962 - 12/22 “Telstar” The Tornadoes

1968 - 2/10 “Love is Blue” Paul Mauriat
1968 - 7/20 “Grazing in the Grass” Hugh Masekela

1969 - 6/28 “Love Theme from Romeo & Juliet” Henry Mancini

1974 - 2/9 “Love’s Theme” Love Unlimited Orchestra

1975 - 2/8 “Fire” Ohio Players
1975 - 2/22 “Pick Up the Pieces” AWB
1975 - 7/26 “The Hustle” Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony

1976 - 2/28 “Theme from S.W.A.T.” Rhythm Heritage
1976 - 10/9 "A Fifth of Beethoven " Walter Murphy & the Big Apple Band

1977 - 7/2 “Gonna Fly Now (Theme from ‘Rocky’)” Bill Conti
1977 - 10/1 “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” Meco

1978 - 12/09 “Le Freak” Chic

1979 - 10/20 “Rise” Herb Alpert

1982 - 5/08 “Chariots of Fire” Vangelis

1985 - 11/09 “Miami Vice Theme” Jan Hammer

To be honest, I’m not sure if “Deliciado” has lyrics.

And some of the others are open to interpretation. How much vocal disqualifies a song as an instrumental? Surely the occaisional shouted “Tequila” shouldn’t remove The Champs from the list, but how about the chorus on “Calcutta,” which remains (IMHO) primarily an instrumental? Then there are disco era tunes like “The Hustle,” “Le Freak,” etc. and others, with some proportion of lyrics. I may have missed some other disco era songs I have tried to block out.

As always, YMMV.


P.S. On this side of the pond, “Apache” made it to #2

by The Ventures didn’t make it?



I think that Tubular Bells may have been at #1 in 1974.

Last Date by Floyd Cramer? And Wipeout? No? Bongo Rock by Preston Epps? Sorry.

Not Billboard, but Horst Jankowski’s unforgettable A Walk in the Black Forest occupied the number 1 spot for several weeks in Australia in the Summer of 1965 :eek: (thereby blocking “Help” by the Beatles)

[sub][sup]Note that various revisionist factions Down-Under would prefer that this fact remain suppressed.[/sup][/sub]

My limited resources suggest that * Washington Square * by The Village Stompers made #1 on Billboard, 10/5/63

(Neat thread!)

Below, in bold, I’ve added a couple more songs to the list of U.S. #1 instumental hits:

Also, the following two songs, from the original list, are not listed as instrumentals in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, and I agree with him:

**1975 - 2/8 “Fire” Ohio Players
1978 - 12/09 “Le Freak” Chic

Answering some other questions, The Ventures’ biggest hit, “Walk-Don’t Run” only got to #2 in the U.S., as did “Last Date”, “Wipe Out” and “Washington Square”. “Bongo Rock” and “A Walk in the Black Forest” both peaked at #14. “Tubular Bells” got no higher than 7th.

How high did Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F” reach on the charts? That was the first one I thought of (I’m such a child of the '80s).

“Axel F” made it to #3 on the Billboard U.S. Hot 100 chart.

Many thanks to whitethofor his smoothly-done amaendments. I knew I would miss a few and I really was not sure of the lyrical content of some of the disco numbers.

Also thanks for looking up some of the other likely supects. Very nicely done.

You know, I really ought to use that Preview feature. It’s so handy.:wally