The Tornados

The Tornados (in the U.S. they were credited as The Tornadoes) were an English instrumental group of the 1960s, who acted as the in-house back-up group for many of Joe Meek's productions.


The Tornados also enjoyed several chart hits in their own right, including the Number One "Telstar" (named after the satellite and composed by Meek). It was the first U.S. Number One by a British group. Up to that point, and since World War II, there had been only three British names that topped the U.S. chart: In May of 1962 "Stranger on the Shore" by clarinetist Mr. Acker Bilk; the second was "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" by Laurie London (1958), whilst the first was "Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart" by Vera Lynn (1952).

For a time, the Tornados were considered serious rivals to The Shadows. They were also one of the biggest influences on The Who and on the early Pink Floyd. Their next single, "Globetrotter", made it to number 5 in the UK Singles Chart, but when bassist Heinz Burt left in 1963 for a solo career, the group began to fall apart. By 1965, none of the original lineup remained. Later lineups were therefore credited as Tornados '65 and The New Tornados.

A scopitone film (an early form of music video) for "Robot", one of the Tornados' chart hits was filmed, featuring members of the group walking around woodland dressed in appropriate headgear with their guitars, flirting with various young women and being finally arrested by policemen after lighting a campfire.

After drummer and bandleader Clem Cattini left the Tornados in 1965, he became a successful session musician, played on recording sessions for other artists, and was featured in Cliff Richard's backing bands. He holds the record for appearing on the most UK Number One singles in chart history.

Rhythm guitarist George Bellamy is the father of Matthew Bellamy, frontman for the successful British rock band, Muse. The introduction in "Knights Of Cydonia" by Muse is very similar to the one used in "Telstar".

In 1975, four of the five original members tried an unsuccessful comeback as the Original Tornados.

Do You Come Here Often?

The B-side on the final single that the group released in 1966 ("Do You Come Here Often") is now generally acknowledged to be the first openly "gay" pop record released in the mainstream. It started off as a standard organ-inspired instrumental, but about two-thirds into the song, we hear a conversation between what is obviously intended to be two gay men at a bar. Joe Meek, himself a homosexual, who wrote the song, committed suicide early the following year. The song was featured, along with other gay-flavoured releases, on a CD compilation, Queer Noises..

Panda Bear

Panda Bear, real name Noah Lennox, used samples from two Tornados tracks on his critically acclaimed third album, Person Pitch. Lennox uses sections from the tracks 'Red Roses And Sky Of Blue' and 'Popeye Twist' on his own tracks 'Bros' and 'Take Pills', respectively. He also lists The Tornados as an influence in the sleeve notes of Person Pitch.




  • "Love and Fury" (Meek) / "Popeye Twist" (Cattini) (Decca F11449, 1962)
  • "Telstar" (Meek) / "Jungle Fever" (Goddard) (Decca F11494, 1962) - UK & U.S. Number 1
  • "Globetrotter" (Meek) / "Locomotion With Me" (Decca F11562, 1963) - UK Number 5
  • "Robot" (Meek) / "Life On Venus" (Meek) (Decca F11606, 1963) - UK Number 19
  • "The Ice Cream Man" (Meek) / "Scales Of Justice (Theme)" (Decca F11662, 1963) - UK Number 21
  • "Dragonfly" / "Hymn For Teenagers" (Meek) (Decca F11745, 1963) - UK Number 41
  • "Joystick" (Meek) / "Hot Pot" (Meek) (Decca F11838, 1964)
  • "Monte Carlo" / "Blue Blue Beat" (Irwin) (Decca F11889, 1964)
  • "Exodus" / "Blackpool Rock" (Cattini) (Decca F11946, 1964) - Number 41
  • "Granada" / "Ragunboneman" (Meek) (Columbia DB7455, 1965)
  • "Early Bird" (Meek) / "Stomping Thru The Rye" (Tornados) (Columbia DB7589, 1965)
  • "Stingray" (Gray) / "Aqua Marina" (Gray) (Columbia DB 7687, 1965)
  • "Pop-Art Goes Mozart" (Mozart arr. Meek) / "Too Much In Love Too Hear" (Gale; Holder) (Columbia DB7856, 1966)
  • "Is That A Ship I Hear" (Meek) / "Do You Come Here Often?" (Tornados) (Columbia DB7894, 1966)


  • The Sounds Of The Tornados (Decca DFE 8510, 1962)

"Ridin The Wind"; "Earthy"; "Dreamin On A Cloud"; "Red Roses And A Sky Of Blue"

  • Telstar (Decca DFE 8511, 1962)

"Love and Fury"; "Popeye Twist"; "Telstar"; "Jungle Fever"

  • More Sounds From The Tornados (Decca DFE 8521, 1962)

"Chasing Moonbeams"; "Theme From A Summer Place"; "Swinging Beefeater"; "The Breeze And I"

  • Tornado Rock (Decca DFE 8533, 1963)

"Ready Teddy"; "My Babe"; "Blue Moon of Kentucky"; "Long Tall Sally"


  • The Original Telstar: The Sounds of the Tornadoes (1962)

Side 1: "Telstar" / "Red Roses and a Sky of Blue" / "Chasing Moonbeams" / "Earthy" / "Swinging Beefeater" / "Theme from a Summer Place" Side 2: "Love and Fury" / "Dreamin' on a Cloud" / "Ridin' the Wind" / "The Breeze and I" / "Jungle Fever" / "Popeye Twist"

  • Away From It All (Decca LK4552, 1964)

"Indian Brave" / "Flycatcher" / "Lullaby For Guilla" / "Dreams Do Come True" / "Costa Monger" / "Lonely Paradise" / "Chattanooga Choo Choo" / "Rip It Up" (Vocal) / "Cootenanny" / "Night Rider" / "Hymn For Teenagers".


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