On Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop

You’ve already read our recent coverage on TG Daily about Top Gun being converted into 3D, which will be hitting theaters next year. 

In another funny bit of serendipity, I was cruising through YouTube, and came across an interview with one of my favorite guitar players, Steve Stevens, who most of you know as the guitarist in Billy Idol. He also played guitar on the theme to Top Gun, which was composed by Harold Faltermeyer.

If the name Harold Faltermeyer isn’t immediately familiar, you probably know his best known work, the “Axel F” theme from Beverly Hills Cop. (In trying to capture the feel of Beverly Hills Cop, and other eighties cop comedies, Kevin Smith also hired Faltermeyer to compose the score for Cop Out).

In recent years, the Top Gun theme has only grown in popularity, with a lot of young guitar kids playing their version of it on YouTube, and in interviews with Stevens it’s also come up a lot lately as well. While demonstrating pedals for the company BBE Xotic, Stevens recalled that Faltermeyer was playing keyboards on the Billy Idol album Whiplash Smile, then told Stevens, “I’m working on this movie, this Top Gun, this fighter pilot who goes in for training. Would you be interested in this theme?”

Faltermeyer then lead Stevens into the studio lounge, and popped a tape in the VCR. He watched the fighter footage, “and at that time it was pretty state of the art. I said, ‘Absolutely.'”


Recording the theme took about an hour and a half. Stevens already had his gear set up, Faltermeyer had an idea for what he was going for with a guide guitar track.

“The only thing he was really looking for was a really anthemic, big guitar sound to play the theme. Everything else [was] ‘Just do your own thing, and we’ll use what’s appropriate.'”

Once the recording was done 90 minutes later, Stevens had pretty much forgotten about it until he got a call while he was on the road with Billy Idol, informing him the song had been nominated for a Grammy.


“We’re gonna win this f*cker!,” Faltermeyer said. “We’re gonna win!” Stevens didn’t think something he worked on for about ninety minutes would win a Grammy but it did, and he also played that night with Billy Idol at the ceremony. 

“It was more a validation for my parents,” Stevens said. “For them a Grammy meant something.”

And today, the Top Gun theme has developed a life of its own with fans, and guitar kids hoping to soar as high as Stevens did with Faltermeyer.