One-Hit Wonders Apollo 100


Apollo 100 was a short-lived 1972 group of studio musicians put together by multi-instrumentalist and arranger Tom Parker. The band was also known as Apollo 100, featuring Tom Parker. The group consisted of Parker on keyboards, ex-Tornados drummer Clem Cattini, guitarist Vic Flick (of “James Bond Theme” fame), guitarist Zed Jenkins, percussionist Jim Lawless, and bassist Brian Odgers.

The band’s first recording on Mega Records was the hit song “Joy,” based on Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” which peaked at #6 on The Billboard Hot 100 chart. Subsequent singles “Beethoven 9,” “Valleys,” “Mendelssohn’s 4th,” “Classical Wind,” “Custer’s Last Stand,” “Listening to Mozart,” and “Orange Blossom Special” did not chart, and the band broke up in 1973. The song “Joy” is still a favorite on 1970s oldie radio stations.

Other Apollo 100 songs:

  • “Hall of the Mountain King”
  • “Danse Macabre”
  • “Reach for the Sky”
  • “Air for the G String”
  • “Libido”
  • “Tamara”
  • “Exercise”
  • “Telstar”
  • “Nut Rocker”
  • “William Tell”
  • “Amazing Grace”
  • “Besame Mucho”
  • “I Will Return”
  • “Matthew and Son”
  • “On the Rebound”
  • “Lady Madonna”
  • “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”
  • “A Walk in the Black Forest”
  • “Soul Coaxing”
  • “Tapestry”
  • “Melody on My Mind”
  • “Nabucco”

Origins of Apollo 100

Apollo 100  was a short-lived British instrumental act in the 1970s whose members composed of studio musicians. It was formed by multi-instrumentalist and arranger Tom Parker (from Newcastle, northeast of England). A talented musician, you could say that Parker was a child prodigy; by age six he was already playing the piano. By his teens Parker was already performing in jazz clubs in London. During the 1960s he worked as a session musician, as well as became one-time member of The Animals.

Aside from the piano, Parker could also play several other instruments including keyboards, clarinet, saxophone, trombone and trumpet.

In 1972 Parker formed Apollo 100, and recruited several new other members that consisted of Zed Jenkin (guitar), Jim Lawless (percussions), Clem Cattini (drums), Vick Flick (guitars) and Brian Odgers (bass). Lawless has played with former British musical group Collective Consciousness Society (CCS), widely regarded UK’s leading and most versatile jazz orchestra The BBC Big Band, jazz/swing group Nelson Riddle and His Orchestra and many others.  

Cattini had previously played on recordings of The Kinks, The Hollies, Herman’s Hermits, The Mersys, Lulu, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, Jeff Beck, Donovan, Bee Gees, Nirvana, etc. Vic Flick, on the other hand, had contributed his memorable guitar riff in “The James Bond Theme.”

Apollo 100’s only hit with “Joy”

The group released their debut single, “Joy” from their self-titled first LP. “Joy” was inspired by Sebastian Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring but was otherwise augmented with percussion and bass for a more contemporary pop feel. It became a big hit, climbing up to #6 spot on The Billboard Hot 100 chart.  “Joy” peaked at number 24 in Canada. It was the 71st-biggest hit in the United States during 1972. The song would be featured in the soundtrack of several films including Boogie Nights, One Day In September and The 40-Year Old Virgin.

It was also in the television series The Man Who Fell to Earth. While not featured in the Battle of the Sexes soundtrack, the song was played during a scene in the movie and was cited in the end credits. The song Mendelssohn’s 4th appears in Gaslit S1E4 as the backing track of a montage.

Later in 1972, Apollo 100 released their second LP, Master Pieces along with the second single, “Telstar.”  Telstar by Apollo 100 was written by Joe Meek and was first released by The Tornados in 1962. Apollo 100 released it on the album Master Pieces in 1972. Neither album nor single gained much attention compared to the band’s previous effort. The following year Apollo disbanded. Despite that, 70s AM radio listeners still fondly  remember the tune that they probably grew up with.

Man Behind the Apollo 100

Tom Parker was a skilled multi-instrumentalist who began playing keyboards at a young age and later mastered the clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, and a variety of other instruments. The majority of the popular Young Blood arrangements, including the Top 20 American song “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” and other records by Don Fardon, were created by him. He was also an arranger. He served as the New London Chorale’s inspiration. On April 18, 2013, Parker passed away.

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