The early 1970s, more than any other time during the rock era, was good for instrumental hits. Several instrumentals made the top ten during that period, and no fewer than three of them (“Frankenstein”, “Love’s Theme”, and “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia”) went all the way to number one. One of those who capitalized on the then-popularity of instrumental music was a British musician named Tom Parker.
Not to be confused with Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’s manager, Tom Parker was proficient with multiple different instruments, starting with piano and incorporating several others. A session musician, Mr. Parker had played with several bands in the years prior to forming Apollo 100 in 1972.
Things started off quite well for Apollo 100, with their first album, Joy, quickly hitting the charts.
(Joy peaked at #47 on Billboard’s Top LPs and Tape chart. Album ℗1972 Mega Records. Photo courtesy Amazon.)
The title single from Joy was a remake of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”, as interpreted by the British band Jigsaw, later much more well known for “Sky High”. (Of course, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” was originally a work by Johann Sebastian Bach.) With the shortened title “Joy”, Apollo 100 debuted its single on Billboard’s Hot 100, just barely, at #100 for the week ending January 1, 1972 (chart | magazine). Happy new year, Apollo 100.
The single made its way up to the top ten, peaking at #6 for the week ending February 26, 1972 (chart | magazine). After peaking, “Joy” hung in the top 20 for another three weeks before starting a precipitous decline which ended in a nosedive right off the chart from #52. “Joy” spent 14 weeks in the Hot 100 altogether and ended the year as the #71 single.
“Joy” comprised pretty much all the success Apollo 100 was to have. A follow-up single with the ever-so-catchy title “Mendelssohn’s 4th (Second Movement)” peaked at #94, and after that, Apollo 100 never hit the Hot 100 again, though the group did place a third song on the Adult Contemporary chart (which was called the Easy Listening chart at the time).
Today, from my observations, instrumental hits, for the most part, are completely absent from the playlists of classic rock or classic hits stations (except for a very small few, including the aforementioned “Frankenstein” and “TSOP”…I haven’t heard “Love’s Theme” on American terrestrial radio in a while). “Joy”, while not having appeared much on radio in recent years*, has made its way into a few commercials here and there. The commercials were nice, but it would be nice to hear this on the radio again.