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The Collins Kids are more than all right

Sibling rockabilly duo makes an explosive return to the L.A. area.

November 23, 2012|By Jonny Whiteside
  • As children, siblings Larry and Lorrie Collins broke into local prominence on the popular KTTV television show "Town Hall Party." The rockabilly pioneers are back in action as adults, performing their first Los Angeles-area show in 17 years at Joe's Great American Bar & Grill in Burbank.
As children, siblings Larry and Lorrie Collins broke… (Courtesy photo…)

Mid-20th century Los Angeles country music performers were such a wildly colorful community that they made their competitors in Nashville seem more like undertakers than entertainers.

One of the most dazzling acts were the Collins Kids, who will make their first Los Angeles-area appearance in 19 years on Dec. 3 at Joe's Great American Bar & Grill in Burbank.

The duo, consisting of siblings Larry and Lorrie Collins, broke into local prominence on the popular KTTV television show “Town Hall Party” at ages 10 and 12, respectively, trading in some of the hottest, flat-out explosive rockabilly and boogie of the era. Within a few short years, they were a nationally known force, traveling to New York for guest shots on NBC's “The Steve Allen Show” and playing at Madison Square Garden.

Clad in the elaborately embroidered and rhinestone-spangled uniforms of rodeo tailor Nudie and specializing in a hot, aggressively amplified brand of hillbilly music, the Collinses' energetic, fly-heel presentation — showcasing Larry's dazzling fretwork and Lorrie's clear-toned, declarative vocals — was nothing short of astonishing. And while Larry was mentored, on “Town Hall Party,” by the prominent Los Angeles-based banjo-guitar virtuoso Joe Maphis, the self-taught prodigy was already a self-made phenomenon.

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“Joe and his wife Rose Lee were a huge part of our lives,” Lorrie Collins said recently. “And Larry and Joe played together on the show, but I think Larry blew Joe's mind with how talented he was, at such a young age. Joe would play something and Larry could remember it note for note. He never really taught Larry anything — Larry just inhaled everything that Joe did.”

Big sister Lorrie was no less impressive a talent, and gained even greater fame after a smitten Ricky Nelson, himself a burgeoning teen idol, began dating her, which led to an appearance on ABC's highly rated “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.”

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