The Collins Kids
Members: Lorrie and Larry Collins
From: Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
First heard: in the mid 80s at one of the ‘record hops’ still taking place in London as part of the London’s remaining 50s/60s Teddy Boy/Rocker scene; locations being as varied as a rarely used upstairs function room in a backstreet Brixton pub to the staff social club in, of all places, Hackney Hospital (not really the place for firing up old British bikes at closing, but that’s what happened!).
Siblings Lorrie and Larry Collins were born in 1940 and 42 respectively. Their first recording is dated 1955; making them a mere fifteen and thirteen years old at the time; though their careers in entertainment started much earlier, being regular performers on Town Hall Party in 1954, having already won numerous talent shows.
In the above clip, dated 1958, Lorrie would have been approximately seventeen.
The footage is possibly the first airing of ‘Mercy’ and differs slightly from the studio version (below), which for my money does greater justice to the WOW! factor in Lorrie’s voice, thanks to a more aggressive entry into the word ‘mercy’. Larry—while singing vocals here and there, sometimes for whole songs—brings the WOW! factor in the shape of lead guitar, as the footage below for ‘Hoy Hoy’ taken the same year shows.
Both clips are from Tex Ritter’s Ranch Party (one is mislabelled Western Ranch Party), though possibly not the same episode; The Collins Kids being regular features. In the second clip, Johnny Cash’s name appears in the credits; he also appearing on the show often. Not only did The Collins Kids tour with Cash, Lorrie married his manager Stu Carnall.
Though that was only after dating Ricky Nelson; a period that included appearing in the show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet not only as his girlfriend, but her sister too; and as that girlfriend performing The Collins Kids’ song ‘Just Because’ with Ricky, albeit at a much slower pace than the original.
While Larry doesn’t seem to get as much of the limelight, he was considered a guitar genius aged ten, having been tutored by the legendary ‘King of the Strings’ Joe Maphis, who also used the same double neck style of Mosrite guitar.
The last given date of a recording found is 1959, the act disbanding in 1961 when Lorrie had her first child. They soon picked up performing again, making an appearance on US show Shindig and becoming regulars on Canadian TV show Star Route.
Though it was short lived; Larry moving forward writing songs made famous by other artists. But in 1993, they reunited for a rock ‘n’ roll/rockabilly revival concert in the UK and from there continued to perform live until Lorrie’s unfortunate passing a mere few years ago in 2018.
While today a hardly known name outside of devoted rockin’ circles, YouTube has lots of footage of The Collins Kids making various TV/live appearances; their music is still widely available in the form of ‘best of’ albums; there’s even a facebook page with pictures of them ranging their entire history.
The Collins Kids performing ‘Just Because’ at its original tempo:
The Studio version of ‘Mercy’
‘Mercy’ is featured amongst many other groovy tunes on the latest Kult DIY show with AJ and Vic; it can be listened to directly from here (below) or click/tap the flyer to go to the mix cloud page.
More on music from me, including reviews, here.
Thanks for reading 🙂
N. P. Ryan