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Harold Faltermeyer On The Making Of The Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack
On creating Axel Foley's theme

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Harold Faltermeyer On The Making Of The Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack


There were two forces back then: Don Simpson, the crazy guy who he had these tremendous ideas all day long, and Jerry Bruckheimer, the business man. They were kind of yin-and-yang. Working with them wasn't easy: they always looked under every stone to see what was underneath, poking and pushing you to the limit. It could be stressful, but on the other hand the outcome was - and is - great. They had a feel for music - especially Jerry. He even had the more distinct musical knowledge, and a great ear.

Whatever was new, Jerry was into... pop music, rock 'n' roll, although he adored classical as well. He adored Soft Cell, especially Tainted Love, so he had a very artistic and avant-garde taste in music. He was on top of everything.

Jerry had loved the way I used synthesisers on my first score, Thief Of Hearts, a very Tangerine Dream kind of thing, and decided to introduce me to Marty Brest. "I want you to meet him", he explained, "because we're doing another movie". It was Beverly Hills Cop. I was the first guy they asked because they didn't know who else was willing to do something so experimental – American comedies had always had orchestral scores and it was an absolute novelty to go with this sparse electronic music. But Marty was open to electronics, and Bruckheimer and Simpson supported him. It worked and it became iconic.

I listened back to my first attempts at Beverly Hills Cop a couple of months ago and thought, "Well, it was not so great." But when I look back now and remember that first sketch of Axel F, I knew that was going to be it. It was initially called 'The Banana Theme' because of the scene it accompanied. I'd tried several things – a collage of three or four little cues - and the more conservative guys in the studio kept telling me that it wasn't working. I gave it one more try and all of a sudden I was more or less against the world.

The first theme for Axel F emerged on my fourth or fifth attempt. I played it and it was the usual thing - nobody wanted to commit. Then Marty Brest heard it and - I'll never forget this sentence - he said, "I think it's delicious. This is exactly what this movie needs!" He turned it around. Don and Jerry were happy - everyone was happy. I told them what I was going to call it and Bruckheimer replied, "What do you mean, Axel F! Why don't you call it ‘Axel Foley's Theme'?" I explained that in Germany we had a hip way of abbreviating things and that Axel F was a great way of abbreviating it. He said, "Well, it might work in Germany, but not in the States." I think he was proved wrong!

I'm very proud of the track. When I saw it on Monsters Vs. Aliens I knew it had become a huge anthem. I even had the Crazy Frog ringtone on my phone for a couple of weeks, but it got annoying.

The Greatest Movie Soundtracks - Empire's Music Celebration

Interview by Phil de Semlyen

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