February 22, 2012

The Penguins - Memories of El Monte (1963)

Formed by former classmates Cleve Duncan and Curtis Williams (previously of The Hollywood Flames), this group was formed in late 1953 when the two men decided they wanted to form a new vocal group. One of the members smoked Kool cigarettes, which featured the advertising character “Willie the Penguin”. Considering themselves cool and following the trend of groups named after birds, they named themselves after the character. In 1954, they released their biggest hit, “Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)”.

Wanting to pay tribute to the music of the '50s, Frank Zappa and Ray Collins (before forming The Mothers of Invention) wrote this song. With lead vocals from Cleve Duncan, this song references eight hits from the doo wop era: “In the Still of the Night” by The Five Satins; “You Cheated” by The Shields; “A Thousand Miles Away” by The Heartbeats; “The Letter” and “Buick 59” by The Medallions; “Cherry Pie” by Marvin & Johnny, “Nite Owl” by Tony Allen and The Chimes/The Champs; and “Earth Angel,” originally by this group, being mentioned and sang toward the end.

album art

The Penguins - Memories of El Monte (1963)

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I'm all alone feeling so blue
Thinking about you
And the love we once knew
And each time I do
It brings back those memories
of El Monte

Remember the dance?
I held you so tight
The Satins were singing
“In the Still of the Night”
You gave me your heart
And your love undying
Now I'm alone
I'm sitting here crying

If only they had
Those dances again
I'd know where to find you
And all my old friends
The Shields would sing
"You cheated, you lied"
And The Heartbeats
"You're a thousand miles away"
And The Medaillons with "The Letter" and
"Sweet words of his mortality"
Marvin and Johnny with
"Cherry Pie"
And then, Tony Allen with
"Night Owl"
And I, Cleve Duncan, along with The Penguins
Will sing
"Earth angel
Earth angel
Will you be mine?"
At El Monte

If I could go back
To those days of the past
I'd show you a love
A love that would last
Oh, I remember
Those wonderful dances
In El Monte

In El Monte

"Earth angel
Earth Angel
Will you be mine?"
At El Monte…

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