Earth Angel
Oldies Music Lyrics

The Penguins 1954 Doo-Wop classic

The Penguins story at vinyl record memories.

The Earth Angel oldies music lyrics was written by Curtis Williams, Jesse Belvin and Gaynel Hodge.

 It was recorded in 1954 making it one of the very first of the true classic ultra-romantic ballads that struck the nerve of teens all across America.

Another excellent example of one of the greatest music eras of all time.

The rhythmic, wailing plea to an idealized young woman captured the heartache of teen love in this enduring 1954 doo-wop hit "Earth Angel." For many the song evokes a glittering, timeless vision of proms, sock hops and impossibly young love.

Here's the story of this wonderful 60 year old Doo-wop classic from 1954.

The Beginning - The "Kool" name - The original garage demo.

The Penguins original members came from two different high schools in Los Angeles.   

The original lead singer, Cleveland Duncan, learned to sing in church. In 1953 he was singing in a talent show attended by Curtis Williams, an aspiring songwriter and baritone singer, and one of the co-writers of "Earth Angel." 

Williams thought Cleve Duncan would be the right fit for the recently penned "Earth Angel." Duncan and Curtis Williams formed the Penguins, along with Dexter Tisby and Bruce Tate, in 1953. Williams and Tate were friends from Jefferson High School. Duncan and Tisby were buddies from Fremont High.

They took their name from a pack of "Kool" cigarettes, whose advertising mascot was a penguin. Several other vocal groups were named after bird species, so why not?

"We wanted to be cool, so we took our name off Willie the Penguin, the trademark on Kool cigarette packs,"  Duncan later told a reporter.  

The group was formed while Duncan was still in high school. The Penguins gathered in a garage to make their first recording, the B side of a record by the Dootsie Williams Orchestra. It went unnoticed. 

In October 1954 they returned to the garage and released its first record on Dootone Records. "Earth Angel" was recorded as a literal garage demo. It was recorded in a garage at the Los Angeles home of a relative of Williams. 

The home was located on West 30th Street in South Los Angeles and was used as the primary recording space of Dootsie Williams for all of his Dootone artists.

The single was “Hey Senorita” with the Duncan-sung “Earth Angel” sitting on its b-side. When a disc jockey flipped the 45 over and played “Earth Angel,” the request lines lit up and the b-side suddenly became the a-side.

Watch and enjoy this wonderful live performance by original lead singer, Cleveland Duncan, and the Penguins.  Please continue reading below the video to learn some  interesting facts about The Penguins you many not know.

Earth Angel Oldies Music Lyrics 
The Penguins
Written by Curtis Williams, Jesse Belvin and Gaynel Hodge


Earth angel, earth angel, will you be mine
My darling dear, love you all the time
I'm just a fool, a fool in love with you

Earth angel, earth angel, the one I adore
Love you forever and ever more
I'm just a fool, a fool in love with you

I fell for you and I knew
The vision of your love-loveliness
I hoped and I pray that someday
I'll be the vision of your hap-happiness


Earth angel, earth angel, please be mine
My darling dear, love you all the time
I'm just a fool, a fool in love with you

I fell for you and I knew
The vision of your loveliness
I hope and pray that someday
That I'll be the vision of your happiness


Earth angel, earth angel, please be mine
My darling dear, love you all the time
I'm just a fool, a fool in love with you-ou


Why only one hit for this super talented group?

While the song's dreamy romanticism would become a staple of oldies radio, the original Penguins were cast into the sea of one-hit wonders. The Penguins never again came close to their initial success. 

They partly blamed their manager they had hired after scoring their hit. He also managed the Platters, one of the 1950s’ most successful groups, and the Penguins came to believe he gave the Platters more attention and better songs.

I was not there, but it is hard to believe with the talent of the Penguins, why they never recorded any of the songs the Platters received. Sounds as though they got short-changed on the selection of songs.  Just my opinion.  

The Los Angeles-based group disbanded in 1957.  Duncan bought the Penguins' name and continued to perform with a succession of new members for more than 40 years. As Duncan told a Times reporter in 1983: "The Penguins are Cleve Duncan plus whoever's singing in the background."

He was convinced that “Earth Angel” would survive in the American memory. “I never get tired of singing it,” he said, “as long as people never get tired of hearing it.”

Earth Angel Oldies Music Lyrics - Some facts you may not know. 

In 2005, it was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry, deeming it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important."

The Penguins' recording of "Earth Angel" has sold over ten million copies, although the exact figures are uncertain. Some have placed the figure at twice that amount, but I have no documentation to back that up.  

Sadly, Cleveland Duncan, whose soaring tenor voice as lead singer for the Penguins helped propel the 1954 doo-wop ballad “Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)” to rock-n-roll immortality, died on Nov. 7, 2012 in Los Angeles

 “Earrrrth Aaaangel, Earrrrth Aaaangel, (will you be mine),” Cleve Duncan crooned as I sat in a soda shop across the street from Taylor elementary school in Hamilton, ohio in late 1954. I had just turned eleven.  A few years later I would be dancing to this very song with my first girlfriend at a junior high school dance.  

Thanks for the memories, Cleve. God bless Celveland Duncan and The Penguins.   

You might also like these...

Enjoy this page? Share it with your friends!

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Return to the Doo-wop main page.

Visit my favorite Rockin' Remakes of the Oldies.

Return to Home page.

Vinyl Record Memories
(VIP Club)

Become a member - FREE to Join.

A Little Bit of Nostalgia in your inbox each month.

FREE  To  Join

The Marcels
Blue Moon

Step back in time and relive those Blue Moon vinyl record memories with this unique cover of a Doo-Wop classic from 1961. You're gonna love this performance.

Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye

Will anyone ever record songs like this again? A Beautiful song with perfect harmony and words you can actually understand, make sense and have a meaning.  Read more.

The Fireflies 1959
"You Were Mine."

The true story of a teenage crush and how a young man was inspired to write his song about the girl he left behind. Read the Fireflies story...

Classic Golden OldiesThe
50's, 60's & 70's

Three unforgettable decades, full of musical magic, incredible artists and songs, and memories that will last forever. Read more...

Back To The Fifties
Burgers and Fires.

It was simple and good back then never thinking it would end. Cruising the drive-in restaurants where guys with duck tails met gals with pony tails. It was Burgers and Fries and Cherry Pies in a world we used to know.  Read the Burgers & Fries story here.

Remember the line...
A-hoopa, a-hoopa, hoopa?

Watch as the original "Diamonds" perform live for the last time, this great American classic.  Read more...

Do You Love Me!

Signed to the new Gordy label in 1962, this group recorded Berry Gordy Jr.'s "Do You Love Me," resulting in the group's (and label's) first hit. Read the story here.

Don't Break the Heart
That Loves You.

This haunting ballad is about a plea from a heartbroken teenager trying to understand why her boyfriend is going out of his way to treat her unkindly. Read more...

Top of Page
Top of Page