Rockabilly singer Mack Vickery recorded songs for Sun Records in 1957 but left Memphis and moved back to Ohio when Sun decided not to release any of his material.
Meanwhile, saxophone player Johnny Paris formed the instrumental group the Orbits in Ohio. The Orbits played as Mack’s backup band but moved to Detroit in hopes of finding another singer to back up. Instead, the group wound up signing with Warwick Records and recorded the song Crossfire. The recording was done in a movie theater in Dearborn, Michigan, giving the single an appealing echo. The single was released in 1959 and got up to #23 on the Hot 100.
Later that year the group recorded a rocking version of Red River Valley entitled Red River Rock that got to #5 in the US and #3 in the UK.
One more release in 1959 got onto the charts. The group recorded their version of the military tune Reville and Reville Rock reached #25.
One last hit came in the US in 1960 when they recorded their version of Jimmy Crack Corn (The Blue Tail Fly) was released as Beatnik Fly and climbed to #15.
The group followed that single with Revival, their instrumental interpretation of When The Saints Go Marching In. The record only reached #97 in the US, but in the UK disc jockeys turned the record over and played Rockin’ Goose. Somehow that side reached #3 on the UK charts!
Johnny was the only permanent member of the group, whose members list appears to total more than 300 different musicians over time. They continued touring, and thanks to hits like Rockin’ Goose (well, and maybe the other hits as well) the group built up a following in Europe. In 1962, Johnny and the Hurricanes played in Hamburg, Germany, at the Star-Club. While that may not sound important, their warm-up act was The Silver Beetles…who later changed their name to The Beatles and moved on to fame and fortune.
Johnny and the Hurricanes continued recording until 1987 and touring until Johnny’s death in 2006.