Top 100 Instrumental Songs 1940-1987

 
Wild Weekend Rockin Rebels

Wild Weekend Rockin Rebels

How would you like to know the most popular instrumental songs ever recorded for years 1940-1987? This covers a total of 48 years. I hope you are excited as I am.

This site will provide a listing of the all the greatest popular instrumental songs for this era. Country and Western instrumental hits were not included in this survey.

Some ground rules had to be established for determining the instrumental status for the songs. Each song must have more than 75% of the song without lyrics to qualify as an instrumental. A source had to be used which was Joel Whitburn’s “Billboards’s Top 3000 1955-1987” and “Pop Memories 1890-1954” reference books.

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Determining The Top Instrumentals

Armed with this reference material, a decision had to be made on how to rank the songs. The greatest instrumental songs rankings was determined by the following criteria:

1. Peak position.
2. Weeks at the peak position.
3. Total weeks charted in the Top 10.
4. Total weeks charted in the Top 40.
5. Total weeks charted.

Knowing this criteria, we are now ready to rank the greatest instrumental songs of all time for this era. There were over 1,000 songs recorded and charted as instrumentals during this period. A large pool to choose from.

Percy Faith Theme From A Summer Place

Percy Faith Theme From A Summer Place

Interesting Facts

  • All the top songs for each decade reached #1 on the charts.
  • The 40’s had 19 charted singles.
  • The 50’s had 28 charted singles.
  • The 60’s had 31 charted singles.
  • The 70’s had 18 charted singles.
  • The 80’s had 4 charted singles.
  • A total of 45 songs peaked at the #1 position.
  • The years 1941 & 1961 had 8 singles to chart in the top 100.
  • The artist with the most charted hits on the top 100 is Glenn Miller with seven.
  • The year of 1941, had the most #1 songs with four.

Another interesting fact, to make this chart listing, all the songs had to rank at #4 or higher, which meant these songs were very popular nationally at the time of their release.

  • The highest ranking song of the 40’s is Frenesi (#1) – Artie Shaw
  • The highest ranking song of the 50’s is Third Man Theme (#3) – Anton Karas
  • The highest ranking song of the 60’s is The Theme From A Summer Place (#7) – Percy Faith
  • The highest ranking song of the 70’s is Rise (#22) – Herb Albert
  • The highest ranking song of the 80’s is Chariots of Fire (#34) – Vangelis
Rock Instrumental Classics Vol 1 Cover

Rock Instrumental Classics Vol 1 Cover

The Top 100 Instrumentals 1-100

Rank Title  Artist/Year/Peak Position/Weeks at Peak  Position()

1. Frenesi / Artie Shaw 1940 #1 (13)
2. In The Mood / Glenn Miller 1940 #1 (12)
3. The Third Man Theme / Anton Karas 1950 #1 (11)
4. The Third Man Theme / Guy Lambardo 1950 #1 (11)
5. Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White / Perez Prado 1955 #1 (10)
6. Moonlight Cocktail / Glenn Miller 1942 #1 (10)
7. The Theme From A Summer Place / Percy Faith 1960 #1 (9)
8. Tuxedo Junction / Glenn Miller 1940 #1 (9)
9. Peg O’ My Heart / Harmonicats 1947 #1 (8)
10. Piano Concerto In B Flat / Freddy Martin 1941 #1 (8)
11. The Poor People Of Paris / Les Baxter 1956 #1 (6)
12. Blue Tango / Leroy Anderson 1951 #1 (5)
13. Tequila / The Champs 1958 #1 (5)
14. Love Is Blue / Paul Mauriat 1968 #1 (5)
15. Autumn Leaves / Roger Williams 1955 #1 (4)
16. Lisbon Antigua / Nelson Riddle 1956 #1 (4)
17. Jersey Bounce / Benny Goodman 1942 #1 (4)
18. Sleepy Lagoon / Harry James 1942 #1 (4)
19. Moonglow and Theme From “Picnic” / Morris Stoloff 1956 #1 (3)
20. Wonderland By Night / Bert Kaempfert 1961 #1 (3)
21. Telstar / The Tornadoes 1962 #1 (3)
22. Rise / Herb Alpert 1979 #1 (2)
23. A String Of Pearls / Glenn Miller 1942 #1 (2)
24. Sleep Walk / Santo & Johnny 1959 #1 (2)
25. Calcutta / Lawrence Welk 1961 #1 (2)
26. Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet / Henry Mancini 1969 #1 (2)
27. Grazing In The Grass / Hugh Masekela 1968 #1 (2)
28. TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) / MFSB 1974 #1 (2)
29. Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band / Meco 1977 #1 (2)
30. Delicado / Percy Faith 1952 #1 (1)
31. Patricia / Perez Prado / 1958 #1 (1)
32. Stranger On The Shore / Acker Bilk 1962 #1 (1)
33. A Fifth Of Beethoven / Walter Murphy/Big Apple Band 1978 #1 (1)
34. Chariots Of Fire / Vangelis 1982 #1 (1)
35. The Stripper / David Rose 1962 #1 (1)
36. Gonna Fly Now / Bill Conti 1977 #1 (1)
37. Love’s Theme / Love Unlimited Orchestra 1974 #1 (1)
38. Frankenstein / The Edger Winter Group 1973 #1 (1)
39. The Happy Organ / Dave “Baby” Cortez 1959 #1 (1)
40. Miami Vice Theme / Jan Hammer 1985 #1 (1)
41. Pick Up The Pieces / AWB Average White Band 1975 #1 (1)
42. The Hustle / Van McCoy 1975 #1 (1)
43. Theme From S.W.A.T. / Rhythm Heritage 1976 #1 (1)
44. Intermezzo / Guy Lambardo 1941 #1 (1)
45. Song Of The Volga Boatmen / Glenn Miller 1941 #1 (1)
46. The Crazy Otto / Johnny Maddox 1955 #2 (7)
47. I Hear A Rhapsody / Charlie Barnet 1941 #2 (5)
48. The Last Date / Floyd Cramer 1960 #2 (4)
49. Dueling Banjos / Eric Weissberg/Steve Mandell 1973 #2 (4)
50. Honky Tonk (Parts 1 & 2) / Bill Doggett 1956 #2 (3)
51. April In Portugal / Les Baxter 1953 #2 (3)
52. The Horse / Cliff Nobles & Co. 1968 #2 (3)
53. Canadian Sunset / Hugo Winterhalter 1956 #2 (2)
54. Velvet Moon / Harry James 1943 #2 (2)
55. Classical Gas / Mason Williams 1968 #2 (2)
56. Apache / Jorgen Ingmann 1961 #2 (2)
57. Melody Of Love / Billy Vaughn 1955 #2 (1)
58. Exodus / Ferrante & Teicher 1961 #2 (1)
59. Raunchy / Bill Justis 1957 #2 (1)
60. Walk-Don’t Run / The Ventures 1960 #2 (1)
61. Wipe Out / The Surfaris 1963 #2 (1)
62. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly / Hugo Montenegro 1968 #2 (1)
63. Midnight In Moscow / Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen 1962 #2 (1)
64. Washington Square / The Village Stompers 1963 #2 (1)
65. Outa-Space / Billy Preston 1972 #2 (1)
66. Dragnet / Ray Anthony 1953 #2 (1)
67. Also Sprach Zarathustra / Deodato 1973 #2 (1)
68. Star Dust / Artie Shaw 1941 (#2 (1)
69. Topsy II / Cozy Cole 1958 #3 (3)
70. Axel F / Harold Faltermeyer 1985 #3 (3)
71. The Entertainer / Marvin Hamlisch 1974 #3 (2)
72. Wheels / The String-A-Longs 1961 #3 (2)
73. Last Night / Mar-Keys 1961 #3 (2)
74. Out Of Limits / The Marketts 1964 #3 (2)
75. Green Onions / Booker T. & The MG’s 1962 #3 (1)
76. No Matter What Shape / The T-Bones 1966 #3 (1)
77. Music Box Dancer / Frank Mills 1979 #3 (1)
78. Chopin’s Polonaise / Carmen Cavallaro 1945 #3 (1)
79. Ruby / Richard Hayman 1953 #3 (1)
80. Anvil Chorus / Glenn Miller 1941 #3 (1)
81. Perfidia (Tonight) / Xavier Cugat 1941 #3 (1)
82. Soulful Strut / Young-Holt Unlimited 1969 #3 (1)
83. Pomption Turnpike / Charlie Barnet 1940 #3 (1)
84. I Dreamt I Dwelt In Harlem / Glenn Miller 1941 #3 (1)
85. Down Yonder / Del Wood 1951 #4 (4)
86. Express / B.T. Express 1975 #4 (3)
87. Teen Beat / Sandy Nelson 1959 #4 (2)
88. Quiet Village / Martin Denny 1959 #4 (2)
89. Space Race / Billy Preston / 1973 #4 (2)
90. Pipeline / Chantay’s 1963 #4 (2)
91. Because They’re Young / Duane Eddy & The Rebels 1960 #4 (2)
92. Moonglow And Theme From “Picnic” / George Cates 1956 #4 (1)
93. Raunchy / Ernie Freeman 1957 #4 (1)
94. Java / Al Hurt 1964 #4 (1)
95. On The Rebound / Floyd Cramer 1961 #4 (1)
96. Feels So Good / Chuck Manglone 1978 #4 (1)
97. Yellow Bird / The Arthur Lyman Group 1961 #4 (1)
98. In The Mood / Ernie Field’s Orch. 1959 #4 (1)
99. Songbird / Kenny G 1987 #4 (1)
100. Hawaii Five-O/ The Ventures 1969 #4 (1)

Excerpts for this article was taken from my published article in Squidoo.com/alltimetop100instrumentalsongs.

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 Posted by at 11:54 pm