In the UK, when the BBC lost their contract to cover the Formula 1 racing season to ITV (Independent Television) from 1997, the old theme tune just had to be replaced. Who better to ask than Jamiroquai.
As announced on this site on 9th February 1997 (thanks Girish!), the band were commissioned to compose the title track to be used throughout the UK ITV coverage of Formula 1. Getting paid an estimated ú100,000 to compose the track will put the music of Jamiroquai firmly on out TV sets throughout the year when the season began on Saturday 8 March 1997.
There was some media attention towards the new track and on 8 March, The Daily Telegraph included the following article (written by Giles Smith):
This week, ITV were guarding the brand new theme tune for their Formula One coverage with the kind of jealousy normally reserved for Michael Jackson albums and compilations of unheard Beatles material. No tapes, no previews or auditions. Eventually I called the agent for Jamiroquai, the band who wrote the theme. He didn't have a tape, either. But at least ITV had let him hear it. Just once. Down the phone.
"It goes like this," he said. "Durn durn durn, dum-dum-dum-dum, durn durn durn ..."
"Thanks a lot," I said.
Anticipation is as high for the opening music as for any other aspect of ITV's first season of Formula One coverage. Rarely have images and a tune locked together so tightly in the public mind as with the BBC's Formula One credits and Fleetwood Mac's The Chain. Everybody, it seemed, wanted to write the follow-up. Bids came in - often in the form of tracks from forthcoming albums, or hybrids thereof - from pop acts as wide apart as Oasis and Jean-Michel Jarre, as Depeche Mode and Wet Wet Wet.
There were also submissions from less famous names. "If I had a quid for every tape I received on which Nirvana met Guns & Roses I would be a very wealthy man," said Neil Duncanson, the head of Chrysalis Sport and ITV's Formula One producer.
Jamiroquai were always well up the grid for the job. "We'd approached Jamiroquai," Duncanson told me, "because I knew Jason Kay, the singer and writer, was a fan of Formula One, and because a lot of people on the team are Jamiroquai fans. It wasn't an easy commission, though: it had to be something which would hit people between the eyes on day one and still stand out five years from now."
Jason Kay's first shot missed. But unlike many of the other artists, who pitched once and then gave up, Kay carried on working at it. "He was in the studio at his own expense, trying out things," said Duncanson, who fielded urgent calls from Kay virtually every half hour during this period, in the office, at home, and, most memorably, in a restaurant where he was trying to celebrate his birthday with his wife. Kay would hum down the line at him, or hold the phone up to the speakers and ask Duncanson what he thought. "Eventually he nailed it."
On Thursday 6 March 1997, the short version of track was played as another Kiss 100 FM exclusive.