Kalin Twins Biography

A classic example of the one-hit-wonder syndrome, the Kalin Twins have a more interesting history than many who fall into that bracket. Herbie (Herbert Harry Kalin, 16 February 1934, Port Jervis, New York State, USA, d. 21 July 2006) and Harold ‘Hal’ Kalin (b. 16 February 1934, Port Jervis, New York State, USA, d. 24 August 2005, Waldorf, Maryland, USA) were real life twins (many references give their birth date as 1939 but this was a Decca Records diversion, in an attempt to make them appear younger than they were). Their first public performances came at just five years of age at a local Christmas party, and the bug stayed with them. They graduated from Port Jervis High School in June 1952, but plans to break into the music industry were delayed when Hal was drafted into the Air Force as a radio operator. They kept in touch during this period, recording and writing songs on a tape recorder and sending them back and forth. After Hal’s discharge in 1956 they set about resurrecting their double act. During these early struggles a demo single was pressed, combining the compositions ‘Beggar Of Love’ and ‘The Spider And The Fly’. The result was an audition for Decca, and their first single proper, ‘Jumpin’ Jack’/‘Walkin’ To School’.

While searching through piles of writers’ demo tapes to find a suitable follow-up the twins discovered a song entitled ‘When’, written by Paul Evans and Jack Reardon. It became their second single. However, the record company chose to plug its flip side, ‘Three O’Clock Thrill’, instead. It was not until disc jockeys belatedly began to play ‘When’ that the single took off. It reached number 5 in the Billboard charts but topped the UK charts for no less than five weeks (selling over two million copies worldwide). Coast to coast touring of the USA ensued before a two week engagement at the Prince Of Wales Theatre in England (later dates introduced Cliff Richard as support artist on his first national tour). The subsequent ‘Forget Me Not’ and ‘Oh! My Goodness’ both made reasonable showings in the Billboard charts, but neither entered the UK equivalent. Two more minor US hits followed, ‘It’s Only The Beginning’ and ‘Sweet Sugar Lips’, but their remaining Decca sides failed to sell. With the arrival of the Beatles there seemed little place in the market for the Kalin Twins’ innocent harmonies, although a further single, ‘Sometimes It Comes, Sometimes It Goes’ for Amy Records, did appear in 1966.

Disillusioned with their diminishing rewards, the brothers mutually agreed to return to their day jobs, with each pursuing college degrees. They did not perform again until 1977 when a friend booked them to appear weekly at his new night spot, the River Boat Club. This led to further one-off engagements, in which they were sometimes joined by younger sibling Jack to appear as the Kalin Brothers. A brace of singles appeared for small labels: ‘Silver Seagull’ and ‘American Eagle’ both used the same backing track. They disappeared again until old support hand Cliff Richard invited them to play at his 30th Anniversary shows in 1989. Harold Kalin was killed in an automobile accident in August 2005. His brother suffered a fatal heart attack less than a year later.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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