1950s EASY-POP Songs and Singers...on the verge of Rock 'n Roll
The Penguins Cleveland ‘Cleve’ Duncan, lead singer, (b. 1935), Curtis Williams, bass, (replaced by Randy Jones in 1957), Dexter Tisby, tenor, Bruce Tate, baritone, (replaced by Teddy Harper in 1957)
Famous Doo-Wop hit single during the 50s: Earth Angel 1954
This was the only top-ten hit recording for the Penguins.
Recording career with hits on the charts: 1954-1955 Record Label: DooTone
The Penguins Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine), often called the first Doo-Wop recording, was an all-time best seller. Cleve Duncan was singing at a talent show in Los Angeles when Curtis Williams came up and wanted to form a group. Curtis Williams got Bruce Tate from his high school, Jefferson, and Cleve Duncan got Dexter Tisby from his high school, Fremont. ‘Willie the Penguin,’ a cartoon character in Kool mentholated cigarette ads, inspired their name. Earth Angel evolved through several Los Angeles artists before The Penguins finally taped it in a garage studio in South Los Angeles. By December 1954, Earth Angel, one of the first R&B hits to cross over, was #8 on the Pop charts while a cover version by the Crew-Cuts hit #3 and Gloria Mann’s recording rose to #18. The Penguins couldn’t come up with a successful follow-up and broke up in 1959