That Was A Hit?!?: The Tornados, 'Telstar'

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Named for a NASA communications satellite, The Tornados' "Telstar" was the first song by a British band to top the Hot 100 — more than a year before The Beatles exploded. Yet, as pop chart analyst Chris Molanphy points out — as part of Soundcheck's ongoing series That Was A Hit?!? — the song's success is unusual. Unlike most hit songs, "Telstar" is strictly an instrumental, and the only Tornados song to ever chart in the Top 40. 

The song also takes on a complicated and dark postscript: Joe Meek — who lead The Tornadoes and helped produce "Telstar" — was later plagued by a plagiarism lawsuit when a French composer accused him of ripping off "La Marche d'Austerlitz," a song from the 1960 film Austerlitz. While that song has many similar melodic components, eventually the courts decided in favor of Meek, though a few weeks after he committed a murder suicide.