The Collins Kids, Have Mercy Oklahoma
The Collins Kids

Larrie was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1942, two years after Lorrie, the pair developed a close-harmony style similar to that of other male-female vocal duos. Their youth made them unique, and they caught on with the Town Hall Party not long after arriving in California. As they were singing straight country and gathering attention for their youth, Larry became entranced by Joe Maphis and his guitar work. His eyes bugged out when one night in 1954 on the Town Hall Party stage, an 18 year old guitar builder named Semie Moseley presented Maphis with a sunburst doubleneck electric guitar he'd custom built for him. Maphis's name was inlaid on one neck. Maphis, who'd taken the youngster under his wing, quickly arranged for Moseley to build a second guitar, this one with Larry Collins inlaid on one neck. And it was almost inevitable that Joe's playing style would influence Larry.

As the Collins Kids moved away from straight country as the specter of rockabilly loomed on the horizon, Maphis was there with them. By 1955 both Maphis and the Collins Kids were recording for Columbia, and Maphis worked on most of their sessions. By this time Larry Collins was sopping up ideas from Maphis like a sponge, realizing full well that the Maphis style was compatible with the rockers they played. The Maphis/Collins synergy was so solid that In 1957 the pair recorded four instrumentals together. The Collins Kids act eventually ended when Lorrie Collins married, but Larry began recording as a solo artist for Columbia. Again, his music changed. Lorrie's harmonies were replaced by those of background vocalists.

The production was done now in Nashville, in a style that combined the softer rock/pop of the time with Nashville Sound techniques that were clearly aimed at the teenage market. Saxophone (probably played by Boots Randolph) was used. No fiddles, no pedal steel. But the exciting, pulsating guitar remained, and here there was no change at all, except that Larrie Collins was beginning to develop the style that would influence the surf guitarists. Larrie Collins went on to carve out a career as a solo performer, returning (as did so many former rockers) to the country music that they'd grown up with. But Larry went further. He began to write songs, and co-wrote not only "Delta Dawn" but also "You're The Reason God Made Oklahoma". There can be little doubt that his relationship with Maphis benefited both, and that both country and rock music is all the richer for it. Great re-issues of all Collins Kids and Joe Maphis recordings can be obtained from Bear Family Records.