Instrumentally Yours

Manny (My best friend for over 50 years, and very knowledgeable in Rock ‘N’ Roll history) and I were discussing the evolution of instrumentals from 1955 to the 1980′s. A lot has changed with the advancement and miniaturization of electronics along side the metamorphosis of music itself. we were thrilled as kids listening to the local AM station on our transistor radios, the forerunners of todays’ ipods( ? ). Then came 8-tracks, cassettes, CD’s and now downloads off the internet. I’m glad I was here to enjoy these transitions.

Anyway, moving on, what is an instrumental? In short , a musical composition without lyrics or singing. There might be some vocal input, but the melody is primarily originated from musical instruments. In most songs, usually centered, is an instrumental interlude. This was great for all the bands with a limited repertoire when they were playing to a live audience. It enabled them to stretch this “interlude” and lengthen the duration of the song they were playing. The local groups we went to see, would always employ this idea to fill their night.Instrumental Rock was very popular during the mid-1950′s to the mid-1960′s, before the British Invasion. Some of the most memorable were:                                                                                                         “Autumn Leaves Leaves” – Roger Williams                                                                                                   “Sleep Walk” – Santo and Johnny                                                                                                                     “Honky Tonk – Parts 1 and 2″ – Bill Doggett                                                                                                   “Rebel Rouser” – Duane Eddy                                                                                                                           “Tequila” – The Champs                                                                                                                                     “The Happy Organ” – Dave “Baby” Cortez
“Rumble” – Link Wray                                                                                                                                         “Raunchy” – Bill Justis                                                                                                                                       “Teen Beat” – Sandy Nelson                                                                                                                               “Red River Rock” – Johnny and the Hurricanes

Some instrumentals highlighted the organ or the saxophone, but the guitar was prominent. The Fireballs pioneered the two guitars, bass and drums with this arrangement. It set the stage for The Ventures, The Shadows and a few other bands. The Fireballs made the transition to vocal music. One of the few instrumental groups to accomplish that feat. They had a big hit with “Sugar Shack”. The Ventures precise guitar work was a huge influence on later instrumentalists.

Here are some of the unforgettable instrumentals of the 1960′s:                                                                     “The Stripper” – David Rose                                                                                                                               “Classical Gas” – Mason Williams                                                                                                                     “Wonderland By Night” – Bert Kaempfert                                                                                                     “Stranger on the Shore” – Acker Bilk                                                                                                               “Telstar” – The Tornados                                                                                                                                   “A Taste of Honey” – Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass                                                                               “Theme from A Summer Place” – Percy Faith

The 1970′s brought more changes to rock music, Disco arrived. It’s impact was tremendous. It will be covered in a later blog due to its’ importance in the history of rock music. Even with this new sound, there were still a number of popular instrumentals.                                                                     “Dueling Banjos” – Eric Weinberg and Steve Mandell                                                                                 “Star Wars Theme” – Meco                                                                                                                                 “The Entertainer” – Marvin Hamlisch                                                                                                             “Frankenstein” – The Edgar Winter Group                                                                                                     “Love’s Theme” – The Love Unlimited Orchestra

I believe instrumentals will always be with us, some we will remember, others, maybe not!

Source: Wikipedia

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