Jessica (instrumental)

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For other songs named "Jessica", see Jessica (song).
Single by The Allman Brothers Band
from the album Brothers and Sisters
B-side "Come and Go Blues"
Released August 1973
Recorded December 1972
Genre Southern rock, instrumental rock
Length 7:28 (album version)
4:00 (single version)
Label Capricorn Records 0036
Writer(s) Dickey Betts
Producer(s) Johnny Sandlin, The Allman Brothers Band
The Allman Brothers Band singles chronology
"Ramblin' Man"

"Jessica" is a rock instrumental written by Dickey Betts,[1][2][3][4] guitarist and founding member of The Allman Brothers Band.

Jessica was first released on the band's 1973 album Brothers and Sisters, and has subsequently been used in many different contexts. A January 2006 Wall Street Journal article referred to the piece as "a true national heirloom." It is widely known as the theme to the BBC Two motoring program Top Gear and its popular reformatted revival.

The tune, along with "Ramblin' Man", is one of several tracks from the album which reflect a transition for the Allman Brothers foreshadowed by the stylistically similar Betts composition "Blue Sky" on the band's previous album, Eat a Peach, and accelerated with the deaths of band leader Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley.

The song is named for Jessica Betts, the daughter of Dickey Betts and Sandy Bluesky.[5]


The tune is in the key of A Major, with the main guitar solo using the D Major scale, which is the Mixolydian mode of A. The signature melody line, as with all of Dickey Betts' instrumental compositions, is played harmonically among various instruments, in this case, Betts taking the melody on guitar, Chuck Leavell playing the top harmony line on the Fender Rhodes electric piano, and Gregg Allman playing the bottom harmony line on the Hammond organ. Leavell also plays grand piano on this tune, playing a solo around the 2:30 mark. Betts plays his guitar solo in the scale of D Major (A Mixolydian) at 3:45. The acoustic guitar is played by Les Dudek.

The original version on Brothers and Sisters clocks in at 7:30, although there is a shortened single edit, which cuts out some of the main theme at the end of the piece, trimming it to 4:00 exactly. This version is the one heard on most classic rock radio stations, and any kind of various artist compilation on which "Jessica" has been featured. However, most Allman Brothers compilations use the full 7:30 version.


"Jessica" was the first Allman Brothers tune recorded with new bassist Lamar Williams after Berry Oakley's fatal motorcycle accident.

Although not successful as a single, topping out at #65 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the tune achieved considerable airplay on progressive rock and album oriented rock radio and helped make Brothers and Sisters a commercial success. A later live version of "Jessica" won a Grammy Award in 1996, twenty-three years after the initial release, for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. The BBC television show Top Gear has used the song in its intro since 1978.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1973) Peak
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary 68
Canadian RPM Top Singles 35
Dutch Top 40 29
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 65
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary 29

Cover versions[edit]

  • Country band Shenandoah does a cover of Jessica at the end of their number one hit "I Got You."
  • Chuck Leavell continues to perform it as a piano-based piece, as with his version on the Southscape album.[6]
  • Jazz fusion band Dixie Dregs also covered the song on their album California Screamin, released in 2000.
  • The BBC series Top Gear nowadays features a heavier electric version of the tune as its opening theme, produced by Christian Henson, a British soundtrack composer.
  • Hank Marvin did a cover version of the tune on his 1992 album Into the Light.
  • On Top Gear, broadcast on BBC Two on 11 March 2012, Slash played an alternative version of the theme at the show's ending.
  • The Spanish group Pata Negra featured a cover of the song in their album Rock Gitano.

Appearances in popular culture[edit]

The tune is perhaps most famous as the opening theme to the original BBC TV show Top Gear, and for the 2002 format of the show, albeit a modernised cover version. In one episode, James May recreated the tune using nothing but exhaust notes from several cars, while in another episode the tune in its full version was heard to be played over the radio when the three presenters tested in America (Series 12, Episode 2). At the last episode's end of the 18th series of the show, ex Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash played his version of the tune. "Jessica" is also used for most international versions of Top Gear, including the US version, which used it as its theme only during the first season.

The tune was also featured in the movies Field of Dreams, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, Fear and Lassie, and was used as the opening theme tune for the Dr. Dean Edell radio show.

In the 1990s, the American wrestling promotion Smoky Mountain Wrestling used this song when advertising their live events.

More recently, the tune was featured in the video game Guitar Hero II, in the "Relentless Riffs" section of the PlayStation 2 version and in the "Return of the Shred" section of the Xbox 360 version. It also made an appearance in the phone version of Guitar Hero 3[citation needed] and has been released as DLC for Rocksmith and most versions of Rock Band (as of 20 November 2012).[7]

In television series, "Jessica" has been featured in The Simpsons episode "Little Big Girl" and the episode "Randy in Charge" of My Name is Earl. In addition, during the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "The Thing That Couldn't Die", Tom Servo would mimic the first few bars whenever someone referred to a character named Jessica by name.

The tune was featured as background music to an AAMCO commercial.

The tune was featured on the "Local on the 8s" monthly playlists several times between 2000 and 2010 on The Weather Channel.

CFMJ Toronto's Leaf Talk with Andy Frost used the song to conclude its programs.

The tune is often played as background music on Angel Stadium of Anaheim's sound system as fans leave the stadium after an Angels loss.

The tune makes an appearance in the 2012 version of The Three Stooges during the scene where Curly tries to dislodge a peanut from the blow hole of a dolphin.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Jessica (Legal Title)". 
  2. ^ "Brothers and Sisters Album". 
  3. ^ "100 Greatest Guitar Solos". 
  4. ^ "Brothers and Sisters Track List". 
  5. ^ "Jessica". 
  6. ^ "Google: Albums - Southscape"
  7. ^ Harmonix. "Six Singles from Six Decades to Celebrate the Five-Year Anniversary of Rock Band". Rock Band Blog. Retrieved 19 November 2012.