Jan 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.
On November 2, 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 original version
of an 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 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