That happened most frequently during rock's early years, which constituted a sort of golden age for Instrumental rock before the British Invasion. One notable early instrumental was "Honky Tonk" by the Bill Doggett Combo, with its slinky beat and sinuous saxophone-organ lead. And bluesman Jimmy Reed charted with "Boogie in the Dark" and "Roll and Rhumba".
Jazz saxophonist Earl Bostic had a career renaissance with his rocking instrumentals like "Harlem Nocturne" and "Earl's Rhumboogie". Other jazz players with early pop hits included Tab Smith and Arnett Cobb. Indeed, many straight rhythm and blues sax players also had success with instrumentals, including Big Jay MacNeeley, Red Prysock, and New Orleans stalwart Lee Allen, whose "Walking with Mr. Lee" was a major hit.
The lead melodies of hit instrumentals could emphasize the organ (The Tornados' "Telstar") or the saxophone (the Champs' "Tequila"), but most often it was the guitar, as the twangy sound of Duane Eddy ("Rebel 'Rouser") and the visceral fuzz tone of Link Wray. Wray's song, the menacing "Rumble", has the distinction of being the only instrumental ever banned from broadcast. The clean, reverbed picking of The Ventures also had a tremendous impact on many of the rock guitarists who followed them. The Ventures were especially influential on the development of surf music, which usually consisted of heavily reverbed guitar instrumentals. (Although groups like the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean were identified with surfing as subject matter, they are not usually considered surf music proper.)
Despite the rapid-fire picking and Middle Eastern scales sometimes employed by surf-guitar innovator (and genuine surfer) Dick Dale, most surf music was fairly simple, retaining its melodic emphasis.
Following the British Invasion, instrumental hits were mostly confined to the R&B realm, among artists like Booker T. & the MG's, who were also the house band at Stax records and saxophonist Junior Walker.
Steve Cropper of the MG's asserts:
Instrumental Rock Performers