In his 1989 autobiography, Did They Mention the Music?, Mancini states:
The Peter Gunn title theme actually derives more from rock and roll than from jazz. I used guitar and piano in
unison, playing what is known in music as an
ostinato, which means obstinate. It was sustained throughout the piece, giving it a sinister effect, with some frightened saxophone sounds and some shouting brass. The piece has one chord throughout and a super-simple top line.
Mancini has recorded several different versions of his theme music including "Señor Peter Gunn" on his 1965 album, The Latin Sound of Henry Mancini, and in a new arrangement for the 1967 movie Gunn...Number One!.
In addition to the many different arrangements of the "Peter Gunn" theme recorded by Mancini, the music has also been recorded by numerous other artists. Versions that reached the record charts include:
Deodato released a version of the song in 1976, which reached number 20 on the
US dance chart, number 84 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number 96 on the
Art of Noise released a version of the song featuring Eddy in 1986, which reached number two on the US dance chart, number eight in the UK, number 14 in Canada, and number 50 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was featured on their 1986 album In Visible Silence, and was awarded a
Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. In Canada, the song spent 20 weeks in the top 100, and was number 84 in the year-end chart.
The B-52's adapted Mancini's ostinato or riff and added lyrics for their song "
Planet Claire". It is used as the opening track on the group's 1979
self-titled debut album. In
AllMusic review, Stewart Mason describes the instrumental opening to the song as "space sounds blend[ing] into a jumpy, speeded-up version of Henry Mancini's 'Peter Gunn' theme mixed with sounds that could have been lifted from one of
Joe Meek's '
Telstar' follow-ups, followed by a lengthy wordless vocal and organ section that recalls the
theme from Star Trek." Released on an
EP, it reached number 24 on
Billboard's Disco Hot 100 chart.
^Henry Mancini: Sounds and Scores, Northridge Music, Inc. 1973, 1986