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Jan Hammer

Janhammer

Miami Vice Characters
Wedding Musician ("One Way Ticket" and "Like a Hurricane")
Miami Vice Composer
Seasons 1-4
Born
April 17, 1948, Prague, Czechoslovakia
Active
1968-present


Jan Hammer (born April 17, 1948) is an Czech musician, keyboardist, and songwriter, who appeared in the show Miami Vice as an unnamed wedding musician in the episodes "One Way Ticket" and "Like a Hurricane". He also composed the famous "Miami Vice Theme" that featured in all 111 episodes of the series, as well as the rest of the show's background music for Season 1 through to Season 4 (although he was joined by John Petersen from Season 4's "Missing Hours" through to "A Bullet for Crockett").

CareerEdit

Hammer was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. He began studying music at the Prague Academy of the Arts, but left for the United States after the Soviet Union invasion of his homeland in 1968, studying at Boston's Berklee College of Music. After graduation, Hammer joined the Mahavishnu Orchestra as a keyboardist, where he played from 1971 until 1973. In 1975 he formed The Jan Hammer Group, and recorded four albums, two with rock star Jeff Beck, returning the favor for Beck's 1980 album There and Back when Hammer turned solo. Hammer then joined forces on albums for Neal Schon (of Journey), James Young (of Styx), Mick Jagger, and reuniting with Beck in 1985, Hammer's recording "Escape" won the 1985 Grammy for Best Instrumental Performance.

Miami ViceEdit

Janhammerwedding1

Jan Hammer's first on-screen cameo, in "One Way Ticket"

Hammer worked on made-for-TV movies, station bumpers and other small productions until the producers of Miami Vice approached him to provide score music for their new series. Hammer's time on Vice gave the composer by far his greatest success, and his smooth synthesised soundtrack is today considered not just one of the defining aspects of the show, but to be among the greatest television scores ever written. All of Hammer's most famous works are taken from the series, including the iconic "Miami Vice Theme" and "Crockett's Theme", both of which were hit singles around the world in the mid-1980s. Many of his other pieces, such as "The Talk", "Marina", "Lombard" and "Rico's Blues", are also immediately recognisable and incredibly popular with fans of the show. Hammer's "Miami Vice Theme" earned him two Grammys and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (the last TV theme song and the last instrumental to do so). Partly fuelled by this success, the first Miami Vice soundtrack album also reached the #1 spot on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart in 1985 (the last TV soundtrack to do so for over 20 years). During his time composing for Miami Vice, Hammer also appeared in two on-screen cameos on the show, in the episodes "One Way Ticket" and "Like a Hurricane"; on both occasions he played a musician at a wedding.

During the fourth season Hammer reduced his contributions to the series. John Petersen was brought in to share some of the workload after Hammer heard a demo tape of his and suggested him to the producers. While the two initially collaborated, Petersen later took over completely, reducing Hammer's involvement to the mere recycling of old cues, although Hammer's name remained in the opening credits. After briefly returning to the show (as per the producers' wishes) to compose the final two episodes of season 4, Hammer left completely at season's end, turning over the music scoring to Tim Truman for the fifth and final season.

Including the album mentioned previously, several Miami Vice soundtracks have been released since the show began, and each contains at least a small selection of Hammer's score music. The albums and their contributions from Hammer are as follows:

After ViceEdit

Hammer returned to the recording studio, performing on solo albums by Clarence Clemmons (of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band) and Steve Lukather (from Toto), scoring TV shows such as Tales From The Crypt and the British series Chancer, the movies I Come In Peace and The Taking of Beverly Hills, returned to perform on albums by Beck and his former band, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, performed on the movie Cocaine Cowboys, a documentary referencing the Miami drug trade during the 1980s (and the Vice era), and released new recordings of his Vice performances, including a new version of "Crockett's Theme" that featured singer/rapper TQ in 2006, which reached the top of Europe's iTunes download list. Other releases include "Made For Each Other" with Dutch DJ and producer, Junkie XL, published in 2010 on Junkie XL's Fairlight EP.

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