If we had American Idol Star Power in the mid-fifties, this brother & sister act would have been huge. Why? Because they were loaded with talent.
Well, unfortunately they never reached the stardom I feel they deserved. Brother Larry, one of the best guitarists around, introduced the Dual Neck Mosrite to the world.
Sister Lorrie was actually Rick Nelson’s girlfriend and received TV exposure on Ozzie and Harriet. With all of this raw talent, the Rock Market was exploding, but they never really made it.
They were “cute” and looked good on TV, how could they miss? Well they chose the wrong record company, Columbia, headed by Mitch Miller. Mitch did not like Rockabilly or Rock and Roll. Why he signed them, I will never know. He was still playing the theme from “The Bridge on the River Kwai”.
Then Lorrie, left Rick Nelson and married a man twice her age – “Johnny Cash’s” manager! Well things started down hill after that. It’s just a shame, because they had it. They never cracked the coveted Billboard Top 40, yet as you will see they were exciting even on 50’s TV – and Larry gets to play with his mentor, Joe Maphis.
The Collins Kids were a juvenile rockabilly duo, featuring brother Larry Collins (born October 4, 1944, in Tulsa, Oklahoma) and his sister Lorrie Collins (born May 7, 1942, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma).
Their hits, such as “Hop, Skip and Jump“, “Beetle Bug Bop” and “Hoy Hoy“, were geared towards kids, but their infectious singing and playing crossed over generations.
Larry, a lightning-fingered guitar whiz at the age of 10, was known for playing a double-neck Mosrite guitar, like his mentor Joe Maphis. They were regular performers on Tex Ritter’s Town Hall Party and Ranch Party television series in 1958-59.
Lorrie Collins is notable as one of the first female rock and roll singers, as she and her brother performed versions of songs such as “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and “Chantilly Lace“, as well as “Hoy Hoy” and other early rockabilly numbers.
Many of their performances on the TV show Town Hall Party survive and have been released on DVD.
In an early 2000s interview for PBS, Lorrie also stated that she sparked some controversy for her youthful sex appeal and torch song performances (most notably the hit “Rock Boppin’ Baby“).
For reasons unknown, when performing covers of songs such as “Shake Rattle and Roll” and Paul Anka’s “Lonely Boy” for TV, Lorrie almost always retained the original, often male-oriented lyrics.
In the late 1950s, Lorrie was the first girlfriend of television star and teen idol Ricky Nelson, in his family’s top rated show, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, and in private life as well.
In 1959, when Lorrie was 17, she married Stu Carnall, who was Johnny Cash’s manager and twice her age. She continued acting and singing with Ricky on the television show and recording and touring with her brother Larry until 1961 when she gave birth to her first child and retired at the age of 19 (although the Internet Movie Database lists further appearances by the Collins Kids on The Jackie Gleason Show and The Hollywood Palace as late as 1967.
Larry went on to produce many country hits and wrote the songs “Delta Dawn” and “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma.”
The Collins reunited for a rockabilly revival concert in England in 1993 and continue to perform together as of 2006.
Larry and Lorrie Collins may never have achieved the massive stardom the ’50’s promised them, but their work managed to endure, spreading the word to fans as far-flung as Elvis Costello and Richard Thompson, who both offered to write songs for any forthcoming Collins Kids comeback.
Oddly enough, more than thirty years after their last rock and roll record, the Collins Kids’ time may have finally come.