(I’m ‘politicked out’ for one day, so here’s some lighter fare…)
“Telstar” was released in 1962, shortly after the world’s first telecommunications satellite had been launched from Cape Canaveral. Named after the satellite to capitalise on the ‘space age’ craze, the song reached #1 on both the US and UK pop charts. You could hear this little ditty coming out of AM car radios everywhere.
I didn’t know this until just now when I looked it up, but the ‘Tornados’ were an early ‘Merseyside’ instrumental rock combo roughly contemporaneous with The Beatles and they also backed Liverpool pop singer Billy Fury. Their clearest musical influence was the American instrumental ‘surf’ group ‘The Ventures’ (out of Seattle).
The distinctive keyboard sound was provided by a ‘Clavioline’, an early electronic keyboard instrument preceding ‘true’ synthesisers like the Moog, Buchla and Arp by a few years. Sounds like a mutant organ!
Telstar I (I’d hate to have to tighten all those screws!)
Because the rocket boosters of the day didn’t yet possess the ‘oomph’ to launch Telstar into a geosynchronous (‘Clarke’) orbit of apogee ~20,000 miles, where today’s communications satellites orbit, it could only perform trans-atlantic duties for maybe 20 min. during each 2.5 hour orbit. So the Telstar was really a ‘proof of concept’ test program… successful as it turned out.
By the mid-1960′s, satellite communications came of age with the first geo-synchronous satellites capable of true simultaneous global communications. In June 1967, a live world-wide broadcast was planned by the BBC, CBS, CBC (Canada) and NHK (Japan). The Russkies dropped out at the last minute because they were pissed off (as usual) at us ‘war-mongering Capitalist/Imperialist pigs’… [to which we replied "yeah, whatever comrade."]
Anyway, on the evening of 25 June we tuned into the Very First World Wide satellite ‘simulcast’ in history along with 400 million other folks. And this (among other things) was what we saw and heard:
I for one thought it was pretty flippin’ cool!