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Last Update 04/03/16

Instrumental One Hit Wonders

Ever since the dawn of history, the instrumentals have always been an essential part of the mainstream music. Although its popularity may has decreased in the recent years - compare to the standard vocal songs. But none can dispute that fact that these non-vocal songs played an important role in shaping the music genes and pop cultures in every eras. From big bands to studio groups. From movie themes to commercials. From rock 'n' rolls to electronics. Its lyric-less content make instrumentals the true borderless entertainment. And like any other music genes, while many managed to make it big, a number of them were not as lucky. Here are the lists of artists who have made their name in the music industry with an instrumental song - but could never get past their first hit.

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  • Artist
  • Anton Karas
  • Year
  • 1950
  • Song
  • The Third Man Theme
  • Chart
  • 1
An Austrian Anton Karas was the world's most renowned zither player during the first half of the century. His fame began when a filmmaker Carol Reed asked him to play for his 1949's thriller 'The Third Man'. The opening theme was so popular that it spent 7 weeks at the top of Billboard chart. It was Karas' only big success on US chart until his death in 1985.
buddy morrow - night train

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  • Artist
  • Buddy Morrow
  • Year
  • 1953
  • Song
  • Night Train
  • Chart
  • UK 12
Buddy Morrow was an American trombonist who worked with many musicians and band leaders including Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Paul Whiteman and Bing Cosby. He specialized in combining a R&B sound to an old standard music. His biggest hit was an adpatation of blue standard "Night Train" which became no.12 hit on UK chart in 1953. He never made another hit again till hes death in 2010.
ferko string band - alabama jubilee

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  • Artist
  • Ferko String Band
  • Year
  • 1955
  • Song
  • Alabama Jubilee
  • Chart
  • 14
Ferko String Band was a large and long-lasting mummers organization from Philadelphia since 1920s. The band began their recording in the late 1940s and finally broke into the Billboard chart in 1955. Their instrumental version of "Alabama Jubilee" charted at no.14 and became the only charted version of the song. It was their only Top40 to date.
steve allen - autumn leaves

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  • Artist
  • Steve Allen with George Cates with His Orchestra & Chorus
  • Year
  • 1955
  • Song
  • Autumn Leaves
  • Chart
  • 35
A New York musician Steve Allen had been playing jazz for the television audiences since the mid 1950s. He was credited for thousands of jazz classics also frequently recorded for several labels. Despite his enormous body of works, he broke into Top40 territory only once with his version of the popular "Autumn Leaves" in 1955. He died in 2000 at the age of 78.

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  • Artist
  • Eddie Barclay
  • Year
  • 1955
  • Song
  • The Bandit (O'Cangaceiro)
  • Chart
  • 18
Eddie Barclay was a French pianist who enjoyed his success during the 1950s to 1970s. He also found the Barclay Records which presented many famous French artists - before being sold to PolyGram in 1979. He also once placed his name on US chart when his recording "The Bandit" became Top20 in 1955. He died in 2005 at the age of 84.
johnny maddox - the crazy otto

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  • Artist
  • Johnny Maddox & the Rhythmasters
  • Year
  • 1955
  • Song
  • The Crazy Otto
  • Chart
  • 2
The pianist Johnny Maddox was a ragtime master and the star of Dot Records back in the 1950s. His most famous piece was the collection of German folk songs titled "The Crazy Otto Medley", which spent 14 weeks at no.1 on Billboard chart in 1955 and became the first piano million-selling records. He haven't made another chart hit so far.
lenny dee - plantation boogie

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  • Artist
  • Lenny Dee
  • Year
  • 1955
  • Song
  • Plantation Boogie
  • Chart
  • 19
Lenny Dee was a organist from Illinois who specialized in mimicking other instruments' sound with his organ. He also famed for his rhythmic records "Plantation Boogie", which became Top20 hit in 1955. Sadly, he quickly ran out of hits and retired from the scene in the mid 1970s.
lou busch - 11th hour melody

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  • Artist
  • Lou Busch
  • Year
  • 1956
  • Song
  • 11th Hour Melody
  • Chart
  • 35
An American pianist Louis F. Busch initially worked as a producer for Capital Records in the 1940s. During the ragtime era in the 1950s, he began releasing his own recordings and produced some hits under different alias. In 1956, he finally put his real name on the chart with an instrumental version of "11th Hour Melody" - and the only time he ever did.
count basie - april in paris

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  • Artist
  • Count Basie and His Orchestra
  • Year
  • 1956
  • Song
  • April in Paris
  • Chart
  • 28
Count Basie was one of the biggest names in the jazz world. He led a big band from 1935 till his death almost five decades later. He penned numerous classics and popular songs in the pre-Billboard Hot 100 era. Despite all that fame, he only appear in Billboard Pop chart once with "April In Paris". This instrumental swing became no.28 hit in 1956 and the only Top40 hit Count Basie ever made.
hugo winterhalter - canadian sunset

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  • Artist
  • Hugo Winterhalter
  • Year
  • 1956
  • Song
  • Canadian Sunset
  • Chart
  • 2
Hugo Winterhalter was an American composer and arranger who worked with several bands in the mid 1930s. In 1950s, He began releasing his own albums under RCA. His best effort was "Canadian Sunset" which almost topped the chart in 1956. It was his only Top40 hit in his career until his death in 1973.
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