What a story can be told about the original members of this popular group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States. Orlon is a brand name for the synthetic fibre acrylic, and when The Orlons formed in the early 60s, it was in response to a rival band called The Cashmeres.
The original Orlons consisted of 3 girls and a guy, and the group - with different faces - still continues today. In 2010 they were one of the first groups to have been listed in the US Top 100 charts, which had enjoyed a career lasting half a century.
But getting back to the original members, the group started in 1960, but broke up in 1968. Of these three original members, after the split one became a secretary, one a shop steward, and another was murdered in her home by a gun-wielding stranger. In the late '80s, two of the original Orlons, plus two new faces, reformed the group and toured for five years. Stephen Caldwell, the original and only male performer in the group, and who at one stage ran a bus drivers' union, still performs with others as The Orlons today. His musical bus has just kept on … truckin'.
The Orlons were a rhythm and blues vocal group who had some spectacular success with a number of their songs. "The Wah-Watusi" was their first big hit and it climbed to #2 on the US charts. "Don't Hang Up" followed, which climbed to #4 on the charts, and then came "South Street," which made it to #3. So three hits, three gold discs in the top 5 is a great result. They were also popular backing vocalists for other recording artists and Bobby Rydell used The Orlons on some his records.
South Street in Philly was a lively place when The Orlons sang about it in the 1960s. Today it's a major tourist precinct of the city and, unlike many other US cities, is alive and well at night. The city employs many plainclothes and undercover police to patrol South Street making it safe and attractive for both the locals and the tourists day and night. South Street is a mixing bowl of the white collar elite blending seamlessly with the more bohemian-minded folks who frequent the 360-plus shops and eateries lining the street. There are even a few of museums scattered here and there. Few, if any, of the businesses along South Street are corporate owned, and every one of them features the private owners' unique style and sign design.
When The Orlons began in the 1960s, South Street was famous for its bars and clubs and fans would bar-hop the street to catch different artists. In the 1980s South Street became somewhat of a victim of its own success. Tourists came to the area in such numbers that some clubs closed to be replaced by fashionable stores and restaurants catering for the many tourists.
The Orlons probably best summed it up with their 1960s song dedicated to area. "Where do all the hippest meet?" That's easy. The hip folk all meet in South Street. ~ Cenarth Fox