Harold Faltermeyer

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Harold Faltermeyer
Faltermeyer in 2019
Faltermeyer in 2019
Background information
Birth nameHans Hugo Harold Faltermeier
Born (1952-10-05) 5 October 1952 (age 70)
Munich, West Germany[1]
GenresFilm score, synth-pop[2]
  • Musician
  • record producer
  • songwriter
  • composer
Years active1978–present

Hans Hugo Harold Faltermeier (born 5 October 1952[1]) is a German musician, composer and record producer.

Faltermeyer is best known for composing the "Axel F"[2] theme for the feature film Beverly Hills Cop, an influential synth-pop hit in the 1980s. He also composed the "Top Gun Anthem" for the feature film Top Gun and the music for the Chevy Chase Fletch feature films, Fletch and Fletch Lives. The Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun projects earned him two Grammy Awards: the first in 1986 for Best Album of original score written for a motion picture or television special, as a co-writer of the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack; and the second in 1987 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance with guitarist Steve Stevens for "Top Gun Anthem" from the Top Gun soundtrack.

As a session musician, arranger and producer, Faltermeyer has worked with numerous international pop stars including Donna Summer, Amanda Lear, Patti LaBelle, Barbra Streisand, Glenn Frey, Blondie, Laura Branigan, La Toya Jackson, Billy Idol, Jennifer Rush, Bonnie Tyler and Pet Shop Boys.


Faltermeyer was born in Munich, Bavaria, in what was then West Germany, the son of Anneliese (née Schmidt), a homemaker, and Hugo Faltermeier, a construction businessman.[3] Encouraged by his parents (the owners of a civil engineering firm), he started playing piano at the age of six. At 11, a Nuremberg music professor discovered that Faltermeyer had absolute pitch. His boyhood years combined training in classical music with a developing interest in rock 'n roll. He played organ in a rock combo and studied trumpet and piano at the Munich music academy. While waiting to begin university studies he found work at a recording studio. Within three years he was engineering major classical sessions for the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon label. Then in 1978, Giorgio Moroder recognized his talent and brought him to Los Angeles to play keyboards and arrange the soundtrack for the film Midnight Express. Moroder and Faltermeyer continued their collaboration in the next decade,[4] producing Donna Summer albums and several hits for various artists. Soon Faltermeyer was earning an international reputation for both precise workmanship and trendsetting creativity in his use of synthesizer technology.[5]

Soundtrack work[edit]

Alongside a busy schedule as a record producer, he became increasingly involved in soundtrack work on Moroder's scores (Midnight Express, American Gigolo and Foxes) and was soon hired as composer in his own right—usually composing, performing and producing the complete score as well as a number of pop songs penned for various artists. Early on he created work for 1984's Thief of Hearts, with electronic scoring and songs for Melissa Manchester, Annabella Lwin, Elizabeth Daily and others. Then came his big break with the landmark hip hop / breakdance-influenced score for Beverly Hills Cop, featuring the worldwide hit, the "Axel F" theme (referred to by Faltermeyer himself as the "banana theme",[6] as it was originally written for a specific scene where Detroit policeman Axel Foley gives a pair of Beverly Hills police officers the slip by shoving bananas up their exhaust pipe, causing their car to stall when they try and tail him).

The year after, the Fletch theme expanded on his trademark electronic soundscapes with experimental phase modulated percussion effects woven into the largely analog synth melodies. He also composed the theme song, "Bit by Bit", sung by Stephanie Mills.

The full scores of these films were not released on album. Only a handful of additional score tracks complemented these hits on vinyl: "The Discovery" and "Shoot-out" from Beverly Hills Cop and "Memories" from Top Gun, and only ever as B-sides on singles. However, The Running Man and Kuffs were graced with full score albums and the Thief of Hearts and Fletch scores also received reasonably good coverage on their respective soundtrack albums. In January 2007, La La Land Records finally released a limited edition soundtrack (3000 CD copies) for Tango & Cash. In December 2016, the same label issued albums of his work on the Beverly Hills Cop series.

In 1987, Faltermeyer recorded an album called Harold F with vocal tracks featuring various guest singers plus "Axel F" which appears as a bonus track. The song "Bad Guys" is based on the (otherwise unavailable) main theme for Beverly Hills Cop II.

In 1989, Faltermeyer composed soundtrack music on the Fletch sequel Fletch Lives.

In 1990, he co-produced the album Behaviour with Pet Shop Boys at his studio near Munich.[7] The album was released later the same year.

Later career[edit]

In Vienna, Faltermeyer and Rainhard Fendrich collaborated on the 2002 musical Wake Up. Faltermeyer also provided the soundtrack for the 2007 computer game Two Worlds. He returned to film scoring for Kevin Smith's 2010 action comedy Cop Out starring Bruce Willis. Faltermeyer has his music featured in Top Gun sequel.[8]

In May 2022 Faltermeyer published his autobiography Where's the Orchestra? My Story as an ebook[9] to coincide with the release of Top Gun: Maverick.[10]


Film scores[edit]

Year Title Director Notes
1980 American Gigolo Paul Schrader
Foxes Adrian Lyne
1984 Non-Stop Trouble with My Double [de] Reinhard Schwabenitzky With Arthur Lauber
Thief of Hearts Douglas Day Stewart
Beverly Hills Cop Martin Brest
1985 Fletch Michael Ritchie
1986 Top Gun Tony Scott
Fire and Ice (Feuer und Eis) Willy Bogner Jr. With Hermann Weindorf, one song
1987 Fatal Beauty Tom Holland
Beverly Hills Cop II Tony Scott Also co-wrote and produced "Shakedown"
The Running Man Paul Michael Glaser Deluxe Edition soundtrack released in 2020
Starlight Express Andrew Lloyd Webber "The Race is On"
1989 Fletch Lives Michael Ritchie
Tango & Cash Andrei Konchalovsky Soundtrack released in 2006
1990 Blue Blood Sidney Hayers TV mini-series, with Hermann Weindorf
Fire, Ice & Dynamite Willy Bogner Jr.
1992 Kuffs Bruce A. Evans
1994 White Magic Willy Bogner Jr.
Asterix Conquers America Gerhard Hahn
1995 Frankie Christoph Schrewe TV mini-series
1997 The King of St. Pauli [de] Dieter Wedel
Jack Orlando Toontraxx Video game
2002 Wake Up Jorge Navarro Fica
2007 Two Worlds Reality Pump Video game
2010 Cop Out Kevin Smith
2022 Top Gun: Maverick Joseph Kosinski With Hans Zimmer and Lady Gaga
TBA Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley Mark Molloy


As songwriter / producer / arranger / musician / remixer

Selected singles[edit]

As songwriter / arranger / producer
  • Camino De Lobo: "Carmen Disco Suite" (1983)
  • Glenn Frey: "The Heat Is On" (1984)
  • Patti LaBelle: "Stir It Up" (1984)
  • Valerie Claire: "I'm a Model (Tonight's the Night)" (1984)
  • Valerie Claire: "Shoot Me Gino" (1985)
  • Marietta: "Fire and Ice" (1986)
  • John Parr: "Restless Heart (Running Away with You)" (1988) (not available on the Running Man soundtrack album)
  • Chris Thompson: "The Challenge (Face It)" (Wimbledon 1989 theme, 7" & CD including instrumental version)
  • Artists United for Nature: "Yes We Can" (1989) (7" & CD including instrumental version)
  • Kathy Joe Daylor: "With Every Beat of My Heart" (1990)

Solo albums[edit]

  • Worldhits (1987) (Instrumental disco arrangements of various well-known songs)
  • Harold F (1988)
  • Harold Faltermeyer featuring Joe Pizzulo: "Olympic Dreams" (1992) (CD single)

Solo singles including instrumental themes[edit]

Year Single Peak chart positions Certifications
US Pop
US Adult
US Dance
1984 "Axel F" 3 1 1 13 2
"Final Confrontation"
1985 "Fletch Theme" 74
1986 "Formula One"
1987 "The Race Is On"
1988 "Must Be Paradise"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  • Portrait of Harold Faltermeyer: His Greatest Hits (2003 double CD)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Harold Faltermeyer: About". faltermeyer.com/. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 February 2022.
  3. ^ "Harold Faltermeyer Biography (1952–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 15 February 2012.
  4. ^ "Harold Faltermayer (interview)". Daeida Magazine. October 2012. Archived from the original on 18 October 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  5. ^ Schweiger, Daniel – "AUDIO: On The Score With Harold Faltermeyer". Archived from the original on 30 April 2010. Retrieved 17 February 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) – FilmMusicMag.com
  6. ^ "Music Behind The Scenes, Episode 4 – Humour". CreaTVty Ltd, Take 2 TV Partnerships and NBD Television Ltd. Archived from the original on 13 November 2006.
  7. ^ Zuberi, Nabeel (2001). Sounds English: transnational popular music. University of Illinois Press. p. 100. ISBN 9780252026201.
  8. ^ "Harold Faltermeyer to Return for 'Top Gun: Maverick'". Film Music Reporter. 2 June 2018. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  9. ^ Faltermeyer, Harold (3 May 2022). Where's the Orchestra? My Story - Kindle edition. Amazon.com.
  10. ^ Cremona, Patrick (13 May 2022). "Top Gun soundtrack – All the songs in original and Maverick sequel". Radio Times.
  11. ^ a b c d "Harold Faltermeyer - Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2022.
  12. ^ "HAROLD FALTERMEYER - full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 6 February 2022.
  13. ^ "British certifications". British Phonographic Industry.

Further reading[edit]

  • Kuffs soundtrack, liner notes (unknown author), Milan 10151-2 (1992 CD).
  • Tango & Cash soundtrack, liner notes by Randall D. Larson, La-La Land Records LLLCD 1052 (2006 CD).

External links[edit]