Orleans Biography

This US soft rock outfit was formed in 1972 by John Hall (Baltimore, Maryland, USA; guitar/vocals), Larry Hoppen (guitar/vocals) and Wells Kelly (d. 1984; drums/keyboards/vocals). Drawing from a variety of sources - country, rock, soul and calypso - Orleans acquired a cult following as one of the more intelligent mainstream bands of their era. With Larry Hoppen’s brother Lance (b. Bayshore, New York, USA; bass/vocals) added to the line-up, Orleans signed with ABC Records in 1973, but were dropped after two albums and picked up by Asylum Records. Success for their new label came immediately with "Dance With Me" a U.S. Top 10 hit in 1975. Drummer Jerry Marotta was added to the line-up as Orleans continued from strength to strength, enjoying their biggest U.S. hit with the number 5 single "Still The One." On a side note, the album front for the self-titled album on which it appeared, a still life of the members of the band shirtless, would periodically show up on lists of worst cover art of all time.

Hall left to pursue a solo career in 1977 (he was a planner of the historic 1980 "No Nukes" concert), and Marotta departed soon afterwards. The duo was replaced by Bob Leinback (keyboards/vocals) and R.A. Martin (keyboards/brass/vocals), and although the new-look Orleans were less well regarded, they enjoyed a US Top 20 hit in 1979 with ‘Love Takes Time’. Orleans persevered with their increasingly dated style of music into the following decade, with the Hoppen brothers the only mainstays. In 1984, founding member Wells Kelly died in London of a heroin overdose. Hall rejoined the Hoppens to help record 1986’s Grown Up Children. Hall and the Hoppen brothers have continued to work as an acoustic trio, with several albums appearing on the band’s own Major Record label. The group would play many gigs as Orleans throughout the '00s.

In 2004, Republican U.S. President George W. Bush was using "Still the One" on his re-election campaign trail without permission. Hall, an ardent Democrat, disapproved and sent Bush a cease-and-desist notice. His taste for politics re-whetted by the drama, Hall ran for his upstate New York Congressional seat in 2006, and in a stunning upset, unseated 6-term Republican congresswoman Sue Kelly, his campaign aided by a charming appearance on comedian Steve Colbert's television show, where the two sang a rendition of Orleans's biggest hit.

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

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