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Joy – Apollo 100

We love the silly, distinctive instrumental one-hit wonders that break through all the traditional pop music to become an unexpected hit. “Joy” by Apollo 100 definitely fits that description. Who would have guessed that a rock version that is basically a note-for-note remake of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Sebastian Bach would ever become a hit that was played on Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 radio show.

Then again, in the early 1970s, rock music was still evolving. There were no set genres yet. You could turn on the radio and hear the progressive rock of “Fragile” by Yes followed by “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone. It was a way better era for radio.

“Joy” is silly, inessential fun. But a popular enough arrangement to reach #6 on the Billboard Top 40 in 1972. Not surprisingly, follow-up efforts met with little audience interest and Apollo 100, which was really just a studio band anyways, broke up.

Click to hear more British One-Hit Wonders

But classical songs set to rock or disco beats was far from over. Just a few years later Deodato took “Also Sprach Zarathustra” to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Then in 1982, “Hooked on Classics” by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra reached #10 on the Billboard Top 40.

Click to hear even more Instrumental One-Hit Wonders

One other side note: the original version of “Joy” was recorded by British band Jigsaw, who is actually a three-hit wonder but is really only remembered for their 1975 hit, “Sky High.” We’re including it below because it’s an example of a band that people think is a one-hit wonder, but isn’t. Plus, we love the song. And any song that has a drummer as the lead singer gets bonus style points in our book.

You can find “Joy” on the soundtracks of the films Boogie Nights, One Day in September, and The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

Listen to “Joy” by Apollo 100

Listen to “Sky High” by Jigsaw

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I'm an obsessive music collector, cataloger, commenter and trivia nut. Sometimes I'm even a listener. One-hit wonders have always been a guilty pleasure.

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9 Responses to "Joy – Apollo 100"

  1. John K. Walker says:

    The first 45 I bought (in 6th grade, Louisville, KY), when I started actually collecting records. (I had previously owned a few singles in 1st/2nd grade in Utah, but they had long disappeared by then.) I still have my original copy (thoroughly unplayable), but did not even know the record had a picture sleeve until seeing it here. I later got a replacement oldies 45 (I also liked the flip side, “Baroque-A-Nova”), and “Joy” also appears on Rhino’s HAVE NICE DAY: SUPER HITS OF THE 1970’s series.

  2. Michael Waterman says:

    John,

    Thanks for sharing your story. Great little song from the early 1970s.
    Michael

  3. John K. Walker says:

    BTW, Apollo 100’s “Joy’ Is now being used in the background of a beer TV commercial (Bud Lite, I think).

  4. John K. Walker says:

    No, saw it again, in fact two different versions. It’s Miller Lite, looking back on their history of TV commercials from the 1970’s. And it is not specifically identified, but one of the commercials shows old footage (probably not genuine) from one of their adverts back then set in my home town of Springfield IL, since that actually was where they first test-marketed the product. “Joy” plays throughout, all the way to the ending of the record.

  5. John K. Walker says:

    RE: “But classical songs set to rock or disco beats was far from over”

    Miguel Rios’ “Song of Joy” (Beethoven’s 9th) was also a Top 40 hit in 1970.

  6. John K. Walker says:

    And now, a year later, Apollo 100’s “Joy” is being used in still another TV commercial, for HP (I believe) computers.

  7. Fran Prickett says:

    Is this version of “Joy” (from 1972 Apollo 100) available on cd anywhere? My husband has it on tape from 1972 and loves it. I would like to find a CD for him. Thanks for your help.
    — Fran Prickett —

  8. Michael Waterman says:

    Fran,

    Try Amazon.com. I found this link: http://www.amazon.com/Joy-Best-Apollo-100-APOLLO/dp/B0007SMERC

    Good luck!
    Michael

  9. Fran Prickett says:

    Thanks Michael…it’ll even arrive before Christmas!
    — Fran —

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