The Tornadoes (a.k.a. The Tornados) were an English instrumental backing pop/rock band with ever-changing members that became famous during the early 1960s. (This band is not to be confused with the early 1960s California-based surf rock group of the same name best known for "Bustin' Surfboards.") Formed in 1961 by pioneering producer Joe Meek (April 5, 1929 - February 3, 1967), The Tornadoes backed British rock & roll star Billy Fury as well as a number of other acts produced by Meek. The band made a splash worldwide with the fiery Meek-penned and produced "Telstar," which first topped the U.K. charts soon after its release in August 1962 before making its way to the U.S. and other countries later that year. The Tornadoes' lineup at that time consisted of George Bellamy (rhythm guitar), Clem Cattini (drums), bassist Heinz Burt (July 24, 1942 - April 7, 2000), lead guitarist Alan Caddy (February 2, 1940 - August 16, 2000), and keyboardist Roger LaVern (November 11, 1937 - June 15, 2013). Additional instrumental support for "Telstar" was provided by Geoff Goddard (November 19, 1937 - May 15, 2000) whose use of the clavioline gave this space age smash its distinctive sci-fi sound.
The Tornadoes made their U.S. debut in late 1962 with "Telstar," which topped the Pop/Rock charts, became a Top 5 R&B hit, and soon after went gold. Named after the Telstar 1 communications satellite launched by NASA on July 10, 1962, this futuristic surf rock classic became the first hit by a British Invasion band to reach #1 on the U.S. charts. Since its original release, "Telstar" has been covered by The Ventures, The Shadows, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (OMD), and many other bands and artists over the years. In late 1962, Meek also produced a sung version titled "Magic Star" as performed by Kenny Hollywood which was covered soon after by country singer Margie Singleton.
After "Telstar," The Tornadoes had several minor hits that included "Ridin' The Wind" (1963), "Globetrottin'" (1963), and "The Ice Cream Man" (1963). In addition to four EPs and four albums (two with Billy Fury), the band also released several more singles through 1966, with many personnel changes along the way, before finally dissolving in 1967. George Bellamy, Heinz Burt, Clem Cattini, and Roger LaVern reunited in 1975 and re-recorded "Telstar" as The Original Tornados. Billy Fury formed a new backing band in the 1970s with a completely different lineup, known as Fury's Tornados, who also covered this song.
- The Independent remembers Joe Meek and Roger LaVern.
- The Guardian remembers Heinz Burt, Alan Caddy and Geoff Goddard.
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- Telstar 1962
(This instrumental hit topped the charts, and Margie Singleton soon after had a minor hit with a sung version in 1963 (as "Magic Star (Tel-Star)").)
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