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The Tornados

One of the saddest stories in rock & roll history surrounds the Tornados, an instrumental group from Britain. Although there were other groups with the same name (see listing for their American surf-band counterparts), this batch of Tornados were the creation of British producer Joe Meek. Meek was England's first independent producer, being equal parts Thomas Edison, Phil Spector, and Ed Wood. An inveterate tinkerer, he designed his own compression units and microphone pre-amps, giving his productions their own distinct sound. Setting up a homemade studio in a three-story flat on Holloway Road in London, Meek pioneered such recording techniques as close miking of instruments, distortion, his aforementioned trademark compression, loud drums fortified by percussion from pocket combs, milk bottles, and stomping the floorboards himself. He put together the original Tornados in late 1961 as a studio session group, its original lineup consisting of Alan Caddy and George Bellamy on guitars, Roger LaVern on organ, Heinz Burt on bass, and Clem Cattini on drums. After one single flopped, Meek had the group do one of his compositions, an instrumental called "Telstar." Utilizing willful distortion, cheap tape echo, beeping satellite sound effects, a cheesy-sounding Clavioline (a two-octave keyboard powered by a battery), and massive amounts of tube compression, the resulting production sounded like nothing else at the time, or since. It became the first number one record on the American charts by a British rock group and ended up selling five million copies worldwide. It should have made Meek a millionaire and the Tornados a household name. But a French copyright infringement suit kept all royalties tied up for six years, and the Tornados were kept from touring the United States behind their international hit due to a contract employing them as a backup group to U.K. pretty boy Billy Fury. By the time the dust settled, the Tornados had gone hitless for several years, and so had Joe Meek. After numerous personnel changes, the original members scattered to various groups, Heinz Burt starting his own solo career and Cattini becoming a British session mainstay of producer Shel Talmy. The copyright infringement suit was ruled in Meek's favor six years later, a year after he had blown his face off with a hunting rifle after murdering his landlady, ending his life in his beloved but debt-ridden studio. ~ Cub Koda
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Ridin' The Wind: The Anthology

Disc 1

1. Love And Fury

2. Popeye Twist

3. Telstar

4. Jungle Fever

5. Globe Trotter

6. Locomotion With Me

7. Ridin' The Wind (U.S.Version)

8. The Breeze And I

9. Robot

10. Life On Venus

11. The Ice Cream Man

12. Theme From 'The Scales Of Justice'

13. Dragonfly

14. Hymn For Teenagers

15. Joystick

16. Hot Pot

17. Monte Carlo

18. Blue, Blue Beat

19. Exodus

20. Blackpool Rock

21. Granada

22. Ragunboneman

23. Early Bird

24. Stompin' Through The Rye

25. Stingray

26. Aqua Marina

27. Pop-Art Goes Mozart

28. Too Much In Love To Hear

29. Is That A Ship I Hear?

30. Do You Come Here Often

Disc 2

1. Ridin' The Wind (U.K. Version)

2. Dreaming On A Cloud

3. Red Roses And A Sky Of Blue

4. Earthy

5. All The Stars In The Sky

6. Swinging Beefeater

7. Chasing Moonbeams

8. Theme From 'A Summer Place'

9. Ready Teddy

10. My Babe

11. Blue Moon Of Kentucky

12. Long Tall Sally

13. Indian Brave

14. Flycatcher

15. Dreams Do Come True

16. Lullaby For Guila

17. Costa Monger

18. Lonely Paradise

19. Chattanooga Choo Choo

20. Rip It Up

21. Alan's Tune

22. Cootenanny

23. Night Rider

24. Lullaby Of The Stars

25. Shakedown

26. Party Spirit

27. Sidewalk Serenade

28. Alright

29. Fortune Teller

30. Telstar (Live)

31. Exodus (Live)

32. Czardas (Live)

33. Lawrence Of Arabia

34. No More You And Me

x

Track List: Telstar

1. Telstar

2. Love and Fury

3. Jungle Fever

4. Globetrotter

5. The Ice Cream Man

6. Hot Pot

7. Exodus

8. Early Bird

9. Stompin' Through the Rye

10. Aqua Marina

11. Pop Art Goes Mozart

12. Too Much In Love to Hear

13. Do You Come Here Often?

14. Red Roses and a Sky of Blue

15. Earthy

16. Swinging Beefeater

17. My Babe

18. Long Tall Sally

19. Indian Brave

Comments

Report as inappropriate
tc4all
I agree. A made for TV, a la PBS special, about this man and his contribution s would be great.
Report as inappropriate
Make a movie about this guy. Meek deserves some kind of notoriety if not for his accomplishme n t s for his sad story.
Report as inappropriate
I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET TELSTAR TO BE PLAYED AND I'VE HAD NO SUCCESS PLEASE SEE IF YOU CAN ADD THIS TO THE TORNADOS MUSIC THANKS A LOT BOB
Report as inappropriate
Man. I wish every band in the world was this weird. Thank God for that psycho Joe Meek. Rock on in hell you beautiful freak.
Report as inappropriate
Surf Nut. Covers Dick Dale and The Trashmen.
Report as inappropriate
sad
Report as inappropriate
affajbar
hey ding dong wrong freeekin tornados 1 badazz do wop group
Report as inappropriate
Wow...what a sad story, damn French!

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