About the song
If you are a fan of doo-wop music, you probably know the song “Earth Angel” by The Penguins. It is one of the most popular and influential songs of the genre, and it has a fascinating history behind it. In this blog post, I will highlight some of the key facts and stories about this classic song, and how it changed the music industry forever.
“Earth Angel” was written by Curtis Williams, Jesse Belvin and Gaynel Hodge, who were all singers and songwriters in the Los Angeles doo-wop scene in the early 1950s. They were inspired by various sources, such as Patti Page’s “Tennessee Waltz”, Jesse Belvin’s “Dream Girl” and the Hollywood Flames’ “I Know”. The song was originally recorded as a demo in a garage studio in South Central Los Angeles in October 1954, with producer Dootsie Williams .
The song was released as the B-side of another song called “Hey Señorita” on Dootone Records, a small independent label owned by Dootsie Williams. However, DJs soon flipped the record and played “Earth Angel” instead, which became an instant hit with listeners. The song spread across the country and reached number one on the Billboard R&B chart for three weeks in early 1955, and number eight on the pop chart . It was one of the first doo-wop songs to cross over to the mainstream audience, and it proved that independent labels could compete with major labels.
The success of “Earth Angel” also sparked a legal battle over its authorship, as Jesse Belvin claimed that he wrote most of the song and sold it to Curtis Williams for $100. A judge ruled that Belvin, Williams and Hodge were all co-writers of the song, after Belvin sang his version of the song in court. The song also attracted many cover versions by other artists, such as the Crew-Cuts, Gloria Mann, Tiny Tim and Johnny Tillotson. The Penguins never had another hit, but they signed with Mercury Records thanks to their manager Buck Ram, who also managed another successful doo-wop group, The Platters.
“Earth Angel” is now considered to be one of the definitive doo-wop songs, and it has been featured in many movies and TV shows, such as Back to the Future, Happy Days and The Simpsons. It has sold over 10 million copies worldwide, and it has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame . It is a timeless song that captures the romance and nostalgia of the 1950s, and it is still loved by many people today.