The Orlons


The Orlons  are an American R&B group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that formed in 1960.  The group won gold discs for three of their singles which sold over a million copies.  In 2010, the Orlons became one of first US Top 100-charting groups to have a career spanning 50 years.   
One of my favorite “girl groups” of the early 1960’s was the Orlons; to me, their hit songs “The Wah-Watusi”, “Don’t Hang Up” and “South Street” – all three million-selling hits that made the Top 5 – sound every bit as fresh today as they did 50 years ago.  They had a couple of secret weapons:  Baritone singer Stephen Caldwell would throw in an unexpected male vocal from time to time, and they had a great saxophone player also.  Their name was adopted in a nod to the friendly rivalry with a group in their high school called the Cashmeres.  However, I wonder how many people remember orlon anymore.  If I were writing articles on Under-Appreciated Artificial Fibers, this would be one of the first:  Unlike rayon and nylon, Wikipedia sends the link for “orlon” directly to the generic “acrylic fiber”.  
(July 2012)
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A torrent of girl groups followed, among them Martha and the Vandellasthe Supremes, the Marvelettesthe Shirellesthe Ronettes, and the Orlons.  Bette Midler’s revival of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” in 1973 reminded rock audiences of the Andrews Sisters, who had had the original hit with “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” during World War II.  More recently, the Spice GirlsTLC and Destiny’s Child (whence came Beyoncé) continued the tradition. 


(October 2013)

Last edited: March 22, 2021