In 1939, Earl Hagen wrote the music for an instrumental he named Harlem Nocturne. Over 500 different acts recorded the song, but the only group to have chart success with the song was an American group named the Viscounts. There was also a British group named the Viscounts, but they had nothing to do with the song.
The American Viscounts were a group of five musicians from New Jersey who recorded an album for Madison Records in the late fifties. Their version of Harlem Nocturne was released in 1959 and peaked at #52 on the Hot 100. They released six more singles and a second album on Madison Records during the next two years but had no chart success at all. Four additional singles followed in 1962 and 1963 on two more record labels, but success continued to elude them.
In 1965, the Amy record label bought up the rights to the music released by Madison Records, and the new label released Harlem Nocturne as a single. This time the record did better, reaching into the top forty for one week. Amy released an album with a different mix of their old records. Neither the second single Amy issued nor the pair of singles released on Coral Records brought the Viscounts any additional success.
The song was used in the movie Christine (based on the Stephen King novel) in 1983 and was included on the soundtrack album for the film.
Earl Hagen later did extensive work on television. He was the co-writer and did the whistling for the theme song for The Andy Griffith Show. He followed that up with the theme songs for at least a half-dozen other shows and also composed the music for I-Spy and Eight Is Enough.