Stories Behind the Music -- Telstar

By
Home Inspector with King of the House Home Inspection, Inc
A week ago I wrote about the first song from England to go to the top of the American charts. That song was a couple years before the Beatles and when the British Invasion officially got underway. Those of you who read the post know that that first song was by Mr. Acker Bilk and it was called Stranger on the Shore. That was an instrumental. Honestly, it is not that common for instrumentals to make it to the top of the charts -- ever.

That makes it doubly interesting that the next song from the UK to hit the top of the US charts, pre-British Invasion, was also an instrumental. This one was, in my view, a more exciting and innovative creation than the one featured last week and it was in tune with the times. The musicians hit on the excitement of the era.

In July 1962, the USA launched Telstar. It was the first communications satellite. The purpose was to relay television signals between the USA and Europe. I was alive and this was a big deal:Call it the dawning of the space age.

Joe Meek was an innovative electronics technician and musician in Great Britain. His band of guys, the Tornadoes, put together this really spacey song called Telstar. It was huge. I remember, as a kid, a local deejay barricaded himself in the studio and played the song over and over and over and over again. Finally the management took him away. Years later I would work at that radio station but I did not do anything that weird.

Here it is, number one from December 1962, the Tornados and Telstar.

 

 For more "Stories Behind the Music" click on the guitar  

  Steven L. Smith

 Bellingham WA Home Inspections

  

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Check out "This Day In History" -- music and vintage television from the 1950's through the 1980's.  I enjoy writing these articles because they take me back to my days in radio broadcasting. Click on Elvis' gold record, below, to revisit those golden hits of yesteryear.

           

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Comments 15 New Comment

Rainmaker
1,172,511
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Owen,

The radio station was here in Bellingham. KPUG. It was owned, at the time, by Robert Pollack. He was called Mr KPUG. The disc jockey was named Mike Forne. He locked himself in the control room and played the song over and over. He asked listeners to come fill the parking lot and to keep Mr KPUG out, so he could stay on air. I do not know how much was real and how much was just a publicity stunt. I had an audio tape of much of this until ten years ago. When I sold my station I donated the tape to KPUG. They did not have a copy of it. The fellow who took it is still alive, not sure if you could get a copy or not. I can give you his contact info, by private Email, if you want.

So, if you know lots about this, what is the deal with that video. Any idea as to why and where and when that came from, any original members there?

November 27, 2008 10:18 AM
Rainer
31,082
Deborah Fisher
Fisher & Company, P.A., Marketing & Creative Strategists

Another great post, Stephen.  I have an original copy of this record - a 45 - that my brother brought back from college with him.  Still sounds great.  This was certainly a song that was unique at the time.  The first 'space' music that I can recall.  No one was playing anything like this back then. The Ventures were another great instrumental group at that time, and they played some really great stuff as well. 

January 02, 2009 10:43 PM
Rainmaker
1,172,511
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Deborah,

As I recall the Ventures did Walk Don't Run. They were from the northwest here.

January 02, 2009 10:45 PM
Anonymous #14
Anonymous
Anonymous

I remember Telstar well, its one of those unforgettable songs.  I also remember watching for Sputnik to go overhead at night.

January 11, 2009 06:48 PM
Rainmaker
1,172,511
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Terry,

Along with wipe out it has to be one of the most memorable of the instrumentals.

January 11, 2009 07:45 PM
Rainmaker
1,172,511

Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspector
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Additional Information

Steven L. Smith, King of the House Home Inspection, provides information for real estate buyers, sellers and real estate industry professionals. Blog posts emphasize issues commonly found in Bellingham, WA and Whatcom County. Smith is Washington State Licensed Home Inspector #207, a state licensed structural pest inspector, ASHI certified inspector #252760 and one of the most experienced inspectors in the northwest corner of the Pacific Northwest. Steven L. Smith is lead instructor of home inspection at Bellingham Technical College and teaches classes for Washington State University and the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Steve was a two-term member of the state licensing board.