Album:The Best Of The Orlons: Cameo Parkway 1961-1966
The Orlons scored three top five hits in the early 60s including The Wah Watusi in 1962 which popularized the Watusi dance craze. The Orlons were from Philadelphia led by lead singer Rosetta Hightower. At first they were called Audrey and the Teenettes with Rosetta, Marlena Davis and Shirley, Jean and Audrey Brickley. When their parents wouldn't allow 13 year old Audrey to perform in some clubs, she and Jean left the group. So now they had to find a new name. Meanwhile the girls met Stephen Caldwell who was lead singer of The Romeos and they asked him to join the group. There was a rival group at their high school called The Cashmeres so they called themselves The Orlons as a gag. The Dovells lead singer Len Barry suggested The Orlons audition for The Dovells' label Cameo-Parkway Records which was also the home of Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell. Cameo-Parkway producer Dave Appell and label owner Kal Mann were known for popularizing dance crazes like the Twist, the Mashed Potato and the Bristol Stomp. There was a 1961 hit called The Watusi by The Vibrators. That inspired Appell to write The Wah Watusi. The record reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was covered by Chubby Checker and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. The Orlons had two more top five hits; Don't Hang Up and South Street. You can get all their hits on this comp. Davis and Caldwell left and were replaced. The Orlons continued to record but didn't have much success. The Orlons split up in 1968 when Rosetta Hightower moved to England. She had a long career as a session singer until her 2014 death. Shirley Brickley was murdered during a 1977 home robbery. Marlena Davis died in 1993. Caldwell still leads The Orlons touring the oldies circuit. Here are The Orlons performing The Wah Watusi on one of those PBS oldies specials.