Friday, August 22, 2008
Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-The Tornados
Album:The British Are Coming
Believe it or not, The Tornados instrumental classic Telstar was the first British rock song to hit #1 on the US singles charts in 1962. Of course it came along at a time when Americans were obsessed with space travel but I'm sure most folks don't know they were British. Unfortunately there were legal issues that hurt the group and a tragic end. The man behind The Tornados was pioneering British record producer Joe Meek. He was born Apr. 5, 1929 in Newent, Gloucestershire, England. I guess he's kind of a British version of Phil Spector. He was a sound engineer who liked to mess around with electronics. He started his own record company and recording studio in his home in a flat above a store. He had some minor success but really hit the jackpot with Telstar. The song was supposed to evoke the dawning of the space age but came out of messing around with sound effects including a flushing toilet as the blast off sound at the start of the record. The Tornados were a real group who usually played on all of Meek's recordings. They were Alan Caddy on lead guitar, George Bellamy on rhythm guitar, Roger LaVern on keyboards, Heinz Burt on bass and Clem Cattini on drums. Unfortunately Meek was wrongly sued for plagiarism by French composer Jean Ledrut and that prevented him from taking full advantage of his success. But Joe Meek continued to compose music for films and had a #1 British hit with The Honeycombs 1964 song Have I The Right. As his business declined, Meek seemed to deteriorate mentally and he shot his landlady and then killed himself on Feb. 3, 1967 at age 37. The Tornados never were able to recreate their Telstar success but Heinz Burt led several versions of the group until his death in 2000. And this 4CD comp has Telstar and many other British Invasion hits. Here are The Tornados performing Telstar on TV in Germany.