The Official Miami Vice Music Site
The definitive collection of Jan Hammer's music from the classic Miami Vice series is testament to the visionary musical approach which helped define a television landmark
Hammer is a product of diverse locales. Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia,
he began his musical journey at the age of four as a piano prodigy; at
thirteen he formed a jazz trio; and as a young man came to the United States
to attend The Berklee School of Music in Boston. In New York City, Hammer
helped define a new standard for rock and jazz-fusion as a member of the
Mahavishnu Orchestra and later, from his studio in suburban New York, established
himself as a pioneer on many fronts through a series of inspired solo efforts
and collaborations with a who’s who of contemporary musicians. It is not
unexpected then, that Miami, a city half way around the world from where
Hammer began, would play such a huge part in his legendary career.
In 1984, Hammer was approached by producers of a soon to be released television pilot set in Miami and centering around two vice detectives. True to his personality, Hammer set out to create the score for these shows in his own ingenious way. He approached each show as its own one-hour film, and strove to stay away from the standard of “scoring by numbers” that was so prevalent in the industry. Never reading a script, Jan’s inspiration came when he first viewed the final cut, taking notes as he watched the cassettes sent from the west coast. From a distance of 3000 miles, he re-invented the art of scoring for television. Like Hammer himself, Miami Vice was a product of different locales: the shows were shot on location in Miami, posted in Los Angeles, and scored in New York. Miami Vice and Jan Hammer were a perfect fit.
In a dizzying 4 to 5 day turnaround, he wrote and performed approximately 20 minutes of new music for each episode. Hammer became the show’s third star--- his music its own character with its own dialogue. So integral was his contribution that, in the beginning, it seemed as though publicity focused mainly on the show’s two stars, Don Johnson, Phillip Michael Thomas, and around Jan Hammer. It is obvious that Universal and NBC knew what a valuable asset Hammer and his music were to the show, and the city of Miami soon knew what a valuable asset Miami Vice was---tourism increased 10% in the months following the show's debut.
In November 1985, Miami Vice hit number one on the Billboard Top Pop album charts---Henry Mancini’s Music From Peter Gunn, 26 years earlier, had been the last television soundtrack to do so. The following week “Miami Vice Theme” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart and, in so doing, became the first and only instrumental theme for television to reach this pinnacle of success. The album sold over 4 million copies domestically, over 7 million worldwide, and secured the number one position for 12 weeks. The follow-up, Miami Vice II, also enjoyed chart-topping international success with Hammer’s hit single “Crockett’s Theme”. At the 1986 Grammy Awards, “Miami Vice Theme” won Hammer two awards: “Best Pop Instrumental Performance” and “ Best Instrumental Composition”. Jan Hammer’s work on “Miami Vice”, the television show and its album, had warranted and received accolades from the public, his peers and industry critics alike.
Over the three and a half seasons he scored the series, Jan Hammer created an enormous body of original music from rock to reggae, from classical to jazz, and his own brand of cutting edge music. Yet while his overwhelming commercial success, his contribution to the Miami Vice phenomenon and its lasting imprint on the industry are indisputable, Hammer might never have dreamed of producing this definitive collection of his work were it not for the volume of fan requests which come his way even today via his web site. Says Hammer, “ Fans would make reference to themes that I had forgotten about after all of these years, so I went back, watched the shows for myself and realized how much music there was that cried out to be released ”.
In summing up Jan Hammer’s gift and his contribution to the Miami Vice series, co-star Phillip Michael Thomas once said, “If there is a soundtrack to life, Jan Hammer is the only one who can hear it”. His diverse and unique background, his life experiences and his visionary ideas allowed him to paint with musical notes the soundtrack of a television landmark.
- Programming and Graphics by Alan Ticheler © 2002-2011 -