It is known that the Miami Vice episode "Smuggler's Blues" (S01E15) was inspired by the eponymous song by Glenn Frey, who also appears in the episode as a smuggling pilot. But while this direction of the connection seems to be clear (if one is to believe Wikipedia), this song and especially its accompanying music video in turn seem so influenced by Miami Vice that I initially thought Glenn Frey had written the song specifically for the TV-show, as he did with "You Belong to the City" for S02E01.

Looking at the rather simultaneous release of both things, it is hard to make a temporal connection, though, and I might be very well making things up here. But is there any information that the Glenn Frey song "Smuggler's Blues" or its music video were influenced by the TV show Miami Vice and they thus provided each other with a mutual fertilization? Is there any more background to it than just a coincidental similarity and the episode being inspired by the song? Or were they both really just independent products of their zeitgeist?

  • I see that I'm basically asking for the inspiration of a song and music video, so this might be regarded as off-topic in this regard. Yet, if seen the other way around it can also be understood as asking for the broader cultural influence of a TV-show and its position inside its broader pop-cultural environment. It's probably equally on-topic here and on Music Fans.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jan 24, 2016 at 21:56

1 Answer 1


Smuggler's Blues was a single on Glen Frey's album, The Allnighter released on June 19, 1984. The song was written by Glenn Frey and Jack Tempchin.

Miami Vice creator, Michael Mann heard Smuggler's Blues on the radio after Miami Vice had only been on the air for a few months. Mann immediately started working on an episode of Miami Vice inspired by the song.

Miami Vice had only been on the air for a few months when show creator Michael Mann heard Glenn Frey's song "Smuggler's Blues" on the radio. The tune, like the show, dealt with the seedy world of drug smuggling in Florida; Mann quickly commissioned an episode with the same title. Writer Miguel Piñero worked lines from the song straight into the dialogue, and Frey himself was cast as Jimmy Cole, a pilot who helps Crockett and Tubbs track their man into Colombia.

The music video for Smuggler's Blues was released in 1985. Since the episode of Miami Vice of the same name aired on February 1, 1985. Although the song was released in 1984, it did not peak on the charts until June 22, 1985, after the episode had aired. It is reasonable to assume that the video was inspired by the episode of Miami Vice.

The episode of Miami Vice titled "Smuggler's Blues" starring Glenn Frey aired on February 1, 1985. The song that inspired the show was released June 19, 1984 and was not inspired by the television show. There is no evidence suggesting that Glenn Frey used Miami Vice as an inspiration while writing the song, "Smuggler's Blues".

  • Hmm, that much Wikipedia says too and the answer already admits that. However, was there really no mutual influence? Or are you proposing that the song was released so early that there couldn't have been any backward influence? If that's what you're saying, then you might want to clarify that a little more in the answer.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jan 25, 2016 at 15:55
  • @NapoleonWilson I added some information and hopefully clarified a little more :) Jan 30, 2016 at 5:39

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