Saturday, August 11, 2018

Lorrie Collins of The Collins Kids RIP

Lorrie Collins - 2000
One of Rock-a-billy's greats has passed away. Lorrie Collins, the beautiful half of the Collins Kids, died on August 4th as the result of a fall. She was 76.

Many folks now may not be  aware of the popularity of this duo during their heyday.

The Collins Kids - 1958
The Collins Kids, Lorrie and Larry, were very big in Southern California in the late 1950's and early 1960's due to their appearances of popular television shows, such as Town Hall Party in 1954 where they were regulars, Western Ranch Party in 1957 and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1958.

The duo was discovered by Leon Leon McAuliffe, the steel guitarist of the Bob Wills band when they were playing music in a Tulsa Oklahoma ballroom. She was 12 and her brother Larry was 10 years old.

Lorrie Collins "In My Teens"

Lorrie, whose actual name was Lawercine, had begun at age 8 appearing in and winning talent shows. Her father was a dairy farmer and crane operator, while her mother was an amateur singer, and mandolin player. After hearing the kids,

The Collins Kids Town Hall Party

McAuliffe urged the family to move to southern California. Their act consisted of Lorrie, singing and playing guitar, and looking gorgeous, while her little brother played amazing guitar breaks, and danced around the stage. Both wore customized Western clothing.

Larry Collins - Joe Maphis
Guitarist Joe Maphis trained Larry, and he did a great job. Maphis made sure that Larry was equipped with a one-of-a-kind handmade, double neck guitar from Semie Moseley. Though it appeared to be similar to Maphis' instrument, Larry's guitar was equipped with 2 six on a side headstocks, while Maphis' guitar had 3 on a side headstocks on both necks.

Larry and Lorrie
with Moseley guitars

Lorrie played a Martin D-28 guitar, that had been re imagined by Moseley, by replacing the neck with one of his custom-made creations that had a six-on-a-side headstock.

Lorrie's Mosrite/Martin
He also put on a bridge that looked almost like the one on a Gibson J-200. Moseley also crafted a huge black pickguard, that had white eighth notes, a flying eagle, and flowers. Her name was inlaid on the fretboard. It was an impressive instrument, made to stand out. 

Though she was just a youngster at the time, hear voice was amazing. Lorrie was right up there with Wanda Jackson, Brenda Lee and Patsy Cline.

The Collins Kids - Town Hall Party

Back in that era, California had experienced an influx of workers migrating from the southern states, Texas, and even Detroit, in search of work in the newer factories. They brought with them their love of Country Music.

Locally produced black and white television shows picked up on this, and the performers became stars.

Ricky Nelson & Lorrie Collins
It was on Town Hall Party that Lorrie met Ricky Nelson. Although it was never mentioned on the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Ozzie Nelson got his start as the leader and vocalist of his own big band. His wife Harriet was the singer. The show had a great following in the late 1950's.

Ricky Nelson & Lorrie Collins

When Ozzie discovered Ricky had a great singing voice, he talent was put on display. Ricky Nelson met Lorrie on the set, and eventually dated her. She was asked to appear on two episodes, and played identical twin sisters.

The Collins Kids
Sadly, during the era of the 1950's Lorrie, and her brother Larry took a lot of flak for singing rock-a-billy music. In her own words she says that people were awful to her parents, telling them, "You shouldn’t let her sing those kinds of songs! You shouldn’t let her dress like that!”

When Lorrie was 17 and the Collin's Kids were on a road show with Johnny Cash, she met and eloped with Stu Carnall, Cash's manager.

In 1961 she gave birth to her first child, and decided to quit the music business.

Lorrie and Larry - 2006

Larry pursued a career as a songwriter, and scored a hit with the song, Delta Dawn. The Collin's Kids eventually reunited in 1993 for a performance at a rock-a-billy festival in England, and continued to perform right up until Lorrie's death.

Her brother Larry recalls “We grew up with Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Carl Perkins,” Larry Collins told The Post. “Everybody that came to California when they first started did ‘Town Hall Party.’ All those acts, Lorrie and I got to meet them, know them, travel with them, work with them.” “Lorrie and I had the luckiest childhoods of anyone that you can imagine.”

No comments: