Emerson, Lake & Palmer often used this song to open their shows (their version can be heard on their 1979 album In Concert
). "'Peter Gunn' has got this sort of great satisfying feeling when you're playing it, because it is simple," Carl Palmer said in his Songfacts interview
. "It's not very technical, but it means a lot. It gets right to the point. It's a great piece of writing. Musically, it works on keyboards or guitars or both."
There was also a practical reason why ELP used it to start their concerts: It's a relatively straightforward song that uses lots of frequency bands, which makes it a good one for sound engineers to work with as they try to sort out the mix.