Return To 60’s Main Menu Recording Artists Of The 60s 




(Joe Meek)

London 9561

No. 1    December 22, 1962




As a   recording engineer, Joe Meek (b. 1933, Gloucester, England) did sessions for CHRIS BARBER’S JAZZ

BAND, SHIRLEY BASSEY, Petula Clark, Lonnie Donegan, and FRANKIE VAUGHN.    Meek also wrote

songs, and when one in particular was recorded by Tommy Steele, he took his royalties and  opened his

own studio and record label in North London–respectively, RGM Sound and Triumph Records.


To equip the studio with back-up musicians for recording sessions, Joe ran an ad in a London trade paper

early in 1962.    Five respondents were chosen:   guitarist George Bellamy (b. Oct. 8, 1941, Sunderland,

England),  bassist Heinz Burt (b. July 25, 1942,  Hargin, Germany), keyboardist Roger Lavern (b. Roger

Jackson, Nov. 11 , 1938,  Kidderminster,  England), violinist/guitarist Alan Caddy (b. Feb. 2, 1940, London)

and drummer Clem Cattini (b. Aug. 28, 1939, London); the later two former members of Johnny Kidd’s

outfit, the Pirates.


Meek  rehearsed the guys, tightened up their sound, and issued an unsuccessful debut 45, “Love And Fury.”

In 1962, when the U.S. launched the world’s first communications satellite, Telstar, Joe was inspired to

compose a commemorative instrumental featuring futuristic sound effects.  Legend has it that he managed

to teach and tape the tune within 90 minutes.


British Decca acquired the rights, and London Records released “Telstar” in the States.   The response was

astounding.    In a matter of weeks, the Tornadoes managed to do what no British   group had ever done

before–have a number-one hit in the U.S.    The disk sold over 5,000,000 copies  worldwide. Numerous

follow-ups were duly shipped, but only “Ride The Wind” (#57, 1 963) charted, and while three more 45s

clicked in the U. K., by year’s end, the game was pretty much played out.


Burt was the first to leave, for a semi-successful solo singing career.    Next went Bellamy, then Caddy, then

Lavern.    In 1965, Cattini, the last original Tornado, quit.    Meek persisted and carried on the group’s name

with a completely new line-up, but with no further success.      On February 3, 1966 –eight years to the day

after the death of Buddy Holly–he took his own life, with a shotgun.

As Bellamy complained to Fred Dellar, author of Where Did You Go To, My Lovely?: “Though [“Telstar”]

made a fortune, somewhere in the link between Decca, Joe Meek, and ourselves, the money seemed to

disappear.    Certainly Decca paid all the royalties, there’s no doubt about that.    But we received very little–

and when Joe Meek died, he was penniless.    So you figure it out.”


Bellamy recorded some solo singles for EMI, worked for a British publishing house, did studio sessions,

and in 1971 formed his own SRT label.    In 1975, he reassembled all the original Tornadoes except Caddy

for one last effort as the New Tornadoes.     Their remake of “Telstar” passed largely with out notice.


Lavern now lives in Mexico, where he works in advertising.    Cattini lives in North London and is a top-

flight studio drummer.     Burt lives in Southampton, where he has worked as a baker and a potato delivery