The Tornados’ Telstar; When Instrumentals Were Fun!

Joe Meek: Ill-fated Genius & Innovator.

The Tornados’ Telstar was the first British hit to reach #1 in the USA. The tune composed and produced by Joe Meek, seemed to be playing everywhere when I was 9 years old in 1961. It brings on so many memories and evokes so many sentiments. Although I never tried to play it, the melody is such a part of me in a way different from my other memory music. After all, Telstar helped to usher in a new political era, a new communication technology era and was innovative in the popular use of analogue electronics.

The Telstar melody was played on a Clavioline similar to this; a very distinctive sound, almost eerie when in unison with the voice.

Telstar was quite sophisticated and really, well ahead of most pop offerings of this period with its arrangement, production and performance. It still sounds unique and well-deserves its place in music history.

Let’s go into orbit, back to 1961, a time of Sputnik, AT&T’s Communication Satellite Telstar (for which the tune was named) and the beginning of the Kennedy era…

Personnel as determined: Geoff Goddard clavioline, vocal; Alan Caddy lead guitar; George Bellamy rhythm guitar; Heinz Burt bass; Clem Cattini drums; Roger LaVern additional keyboards.

We were, of course, THE garageband generation.* We started the whole three chord, bass guitar, rhythm guitar, lead guitar and drum thing. Looking back to the music of those times, things seemed to be less complicated but, our desire to get proficient was insatiable. Those of us who couldn’t keep up with the skill needed for the evolving music, simply dropped off the radar. Me? Well, I just couldn’t get enough! Things haven’t changed!

*When a doctor checks out my ears with his scope, this is a HUGE part of what he sees.


3 thoughts on “The Tornados’ Telstar; When Instrumentals Were Fun!

  1. I played the clavioline since the 1960’s and have been playing Telstar ever since. Buy and sell old claviolines and at the moment I have five. Wrote a 28 page booklet, ‘An Introduction To The Clavioline’. Loads of info on the Clavioline page on my music web site.

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