The Collins Kids

Gary: “I was looking up a song from 1960 today by Paul Chaplin and the Emeralds.  The search took me  into the Rockabilly World which got me so far off track I ended up here, with this subject. 

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.

Lorrie Collins – (born May 7, 1942)
Larry (age 10 born 1944) with Lorrie

Rick Nelson and Lorrie Collins

Rose Maphis, Lorrie with Rick Nelson, Joe Maphis (Larry’s guitar mentor)

Present day…

… and now how they started…
Videos:
High School Confidential/ Town Hall Party 1958/
.
Hoy, Hoy, Hoy/ Town Hall Party/
.
Hot Rod/ Town Hall 1958/
.
This is the Talent – Larry and his, mentor, Joe Maphis, do Duane Eddy’s Ramrod on TV’s Town Hall Party – Larry was 14 or 15 by then/
.
How good was he? Check this out…
.
(Just for Marilyn) Lorrie and Rick 1957/
.
As they got Older/
.
On Shindig with a Rickenbacker/
.
And of course their Story/ take the 9 minutes to watch; it’s pretty good
.
Larry Collins at Nine in 1954/
Recordings that best represent who they were / are…
Hoy,Hoy, Hoy
Hot Rod
Beetle Bug Bop
Rock Boppin’ Baby (the song Lorrie was criticized for)

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.

Footnote from Gary –
Revered by rockabilly collectors the world over, their filmed television appearances and recordings are testimony to the fact that the Collins Kids weren’t just “good for their age,” they were just plain good, period!
–o–
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One response to “The Collins Kids

  1. Pingback: Town Hall Party! | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

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