Johnny and the Hurricanes had two Top Forty Instrumental hits featuring
Johnny Paris' raging tenor sax and Paul Tesluk's Hammond organ: "Crossfire (#23,
1959) and the million selling "Red River Rock (#5, 1959).
The Hurricanes began as an Ohio combo formed in 1957 by a group of students from Toledo's Rossford Catholic High. The leader of the group was saxophonist Johnny Paris, born John Pocisk, 1940 in Walbridge, Ohio. Paris grew up listening to jazz greats until Bill Haley became popular using a combination guitar/sax backing. Paris formed the Orbits, a band that played on a few locally released recordings behind Mack Vickery, an obscure rockabilly singer.
The Orbits had something in common in music. None of the members wanted to sing.
In 1958, they felt that they had enough experience playing sock hops and local dances, so they went to Detroit to be interviewed by Harry Balk and Irving Micahnik of Artists, Inc., a management agency that handled Little Willie John and was currently having a hit with "Poor Boy" by the Royaltones. They signed a long term contract which led to engagements outside the Toledo area. In early 1959, now called Johnny and the Hurricanes, they signed with Micahnik and Balk's Twirl Records. Their first release was "Crossfire." When the record began having regional air play, the group's recording contract was leased to Warwick Records, a subsidiary of United Telefilm.
"Crossfire" was a medium sized hit nationally in the summer of 1959. The group's first, brief tour began in June in Cincinnati at Coney Island's Moonlight Gardens. The follow-up to "Crossfire" was a re-writing of "Red River Valley" called "Red River Rock." The sound of Johnny and the Hurricanes, for all its various components was very clean and each instrument was clearly heard. This would be a trademark of most of their recordings. "Red River Rock" sold a million copies and was followed by two similar singles "Reveille Rock" and "Beatnik Fly."
After a year with Warwick the group moved to Big Top Records in the summer of 1960. There was no change in musical direction. The first Big Top single was "Down Yonder" followed by "Rocking Goose", "Revival", and "You Are My Sunshine."
Most of the material performed by Johnny and the Hurricanes was credited to T. King and I. Mack," a pseudonym for Balk and Micahnik. None of the Hurricanes received acknowledgment or royalties, for songwriting, though most of the arrangements were worked out by the group. Johnny and the Hurricanes remained a viable record selling band for another year. Continued use of similar record production, combined with the gimmickry of performing an old tune with a rock and roll beat, resulted in fewer sales with each release as the novelty wore off. By early 1961, Ja-Da" barely dented the charts and Johnny and the Hurricanes dropped out of music mainstream. The group continued on Big Top, recording another eight singles.
After a tour of Britain in 1963, the group moved to Jeff Records for one single, then to the Sattila label for five more. In 1965 they ended their recording career with two singles for Mala Records. By that time only Paris of the original Hurricanes remained. Paris, in his frequent trips overseas, found new European fans. He extended his career by going to Germany and England while remaining based in Toledo, where he managed a talent agency and played on the weekends.