One of the best stories from the early days of rock and roll might be that of the brother and sister rockabilly act known as the Collins Kids. When the Oklahoma-born siblings first joined radio’s Town Hall Party in 1954, Larry (Lawrence) was just ten and Lorrie (Lawrencine) a couple of years older, but they wowed fans with their lively performances. When the show moved to TV they began a march to pop music stardom that would eventually even include Lorrie pairing up romantically with Ricky Nelson.
The duo started as a country music act, complete with fancy Western costumes and a definite twang to the music, but it didn’t take long for the boppin’ and rockin’ to take over. Larry was a bouncing, duck-walking wiz on the double-neck guitar and Lorrie was a pint-sized Wanda Jackson-style belter. Audiences loved them, and as their popularity rose they even attracted the attention of Ricky Nelson, who ended up making Lorrie his first steady girlfriend and singing with her on his family’s hit TV show.
The Collins Kids sold a ton of records with songs like “Hoy Hoy,” “Hop, Skip and Jump,” and “Beetle Bug Bop,” and the duo had several years of success before a career hiccup occurred. That happened in 1959 when 17-year-old Lorrie eloped with Johnny Cash’s manager (who was twice her age).
The siblings did reunite and perform again in the 1960s, but the act eventually wound down. In subsequent years, Larry found some success as a guitarist and songwriter, with songs like “Delta Dawn” and “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma” earning him lots of royalties. He and Lorrie again began working together in the 1990s and continue to appear from time to time even now.