74. The Kalin Twins – When (1958)

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On 29 August, Move It, the debut single of a young act named Cliff Richard and the Drifters, was released. Eventually reaching number 2 in the charts, it is widely considered to be one of the first true rock’n’roll singles released by an act from this country. With his heart-throb appearance, and permanent scowl, it’s hard to imagine now, but Richard was considered to be a dangerous threat with his rebellious demeanour, and overtook Tommy Steele as the UK’s answer to Elvis Presley. The Drifters were in danger of getting into trouble with the US group of the same name, but that’s another story for another time.

The Everly Brothers All I Have to Do is Dream/Claudette outsold every other single that year, but after seven weeks, Don and Phil were usurped by another brotherly double act. The Kalin Twins, known to fans as Hal and Herbie, saw out most of the rest of the summer with five weeks at the top thanks to their one-hit wonder When. Harold and Herbert were born in Port Jervis, New York in 1934. They were discovered by Jimmy Jones, who among other things wrote I’m Alive for the Hollies. Their management hoped that twin brothers with Elvis-style quiffs would appeal to the youth, but were struggling to find decent material for them to record, until they came across When, written by Paul Evans and Jack Reardon. The Everly Brothers had already turned the song down, and producer Jack Pleis also rejected it, but was overruled. Evans went on to write for big stars like Elvis, and had recording success of his own.

I feel as though I’ve heard When before, but can’t be sure. It could be because it sounds so similar to so many uptempo hits of the time – particularly Runaround Sue, off the top of my head. That’s not necessarily a criticism – the song has a summery charm and energy (the castanets are a nice touch), and it’s easy to imagine teens in a dancehall going wild and dancing to this at the time. Despite five weeks at number 1 though, it seems to be largely forgotten now.

The Kalin Twins toured the UK with Cliff Richard as their support. However, they couldn’t follow up When. Hal and Herbie decided to pursue college degrees, and didn’t perform again until a mutual friend persuaded them to play his new nightclub in 1977. They would occasionally perform with their younger brother, Jack, as the Kalin Brothers, but disappeared from public view again until 1989, when Cliff Richard returned the favour and asked them to support him as part of a televised concert from Wembley Stadium. The twins would tour the cabaret circuit, now sporting beards, but sadly in August 2005, Hal died of injuries from a car accident, and the following July, Herbie died of a heart attack.

The day after the release of Move It, riots broke out in Notting Hill. An argument between Jamaican Raymond Morrison and his Swedish wife Majbritt resulted in fights between hundreds of Teddy Boys and West Indians. The riots lasted until 5 September, and on 1 September the first Cod War between the UK and Iceland began. So it wasn’t all summer loving in 1958.

Written by: Jack Reardon & Paul Evans

Producer: Jack Pleis

Weeks at number 1: 5 (22 August-25 September)

Births:

Comedian Lenny Henry – 29 August
Comedian Bobby Davro – 13 September
Model Linda Lusardi – 18 September
Radio presenter Simon Mayo – 21 September

Deaths:

Composer Ralph Vaughan Williams – 26 August
Politician Henry Arthur Evans – 25 September 

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