August 1986: Don Johnson Releases "Heartbeat"

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 01: 12/8/86-12/16/86 Met museum costume opening "Three Amigos" premiere Jessica Lange honored at Plaza Mark Gero Gallery opening "Golden Child" premiere Miami Vice Carnegie Hall opening Cyndi Lauper at "Screaming Mimis"Don Johnson (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)
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(The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

In 1986, there were few stars in the world bigger than Don Johnson. Miami Vice was at its peak, with the show routinely in the top 10 of the weekly ratings. The show's flashy depiction of fighting crime in southern Miami had a global impact, fueling European tourism to Miami's South Beach district.

RELATED: December 1985: The Miami Vice Soundtrack Takes Over America

The show was so hot that Johnson was inspired to grab the microphone and make an album. The result was Heartbeat, released in November 1986. It was well ahead of the full-length that the actor turned singer dropped lead single, "Heartbeat," on August 19, 1986. Actually a cover of a track first recorded by Helen Reddy, Johnson's take on the tune struck a chord with listeners already sprung on Miami Vice and all things Crockett and Tubbs. Johnson went on MTV News to talk about making the record. He brought along one of the album's guest musicians: Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones.

“I wanted the record to be modern, tough rock and I think I achieved that on some level,” Johnson told the L.A. Times about getting his musical project off the ground with CBS Records president, Walter Yetnikoff. "I didn’t want it to sound like something that other people designed and I just stopped by for a few minutes to do the vocals. And I made it clear to Walter that I would walk away from it if I didn’t think it was credible. I was prepared every step of the way to throw it away and walk away."

There was no need to trash the music. "Heartbeat" was an instant hit, cruising up the charts to peak at #5 on the Hot 100 for the week of October 18, 1986. The #1 song in America that week: Janet Jackson's "When I Think of You."

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