Peter Gunn (song)

“Peter Gunn” is the theme music composed by Henry Mancini for the television show of the same name. The song was the opening track on the original soundtrack album, The Music from Peter Gunn, released in 1959 as RCA Victor LPM/LSP-1956. Mancini won an Emmy Award and two Grammys for Album of the Year and Best Arrangement.

In his autobiography Did They Mention the Music? Mancini stated: “The “Peter Gunn” title theme actually derives more from rock and roll than from jazz. I used guitar and piano in unison, playing what is known in music as an ostinato, which means obstinate. It was sustained throughout the piece, giving it a sinister effect, with some frightened saxophone sounds and some shouting brass. The piece has one chord throughout and a super-simple top line.”

Lyrics were added by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans and first recorded in 1964 by Sarah Vaughan in an arrangement by Bill Holman on her album Sarah Vaughan Sings the Mancini Songbook. Mancini also recorded a vocal version titled “Bye Bye” that is on his 1967 soundtrack album Gunn…Number One!.

Trumpeter Ray Anthony released the first single version of the song on Capitol Records in 1959. Arranged by Mancini and featuring tenor saxophonist Plas Johnson, it reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #12 on the R&B chart.