It is not often in music when a song recorded as a demo in a garage becomes an inductee to the National Recording Registry with only 50 songs from the entire history of music. “Earth Angel” by the Penguins possessed this magic. Although this song was the Penguin’s only major hit, the group is not the caliber of a one-hit-wonder. This is the story of “Earth Angel’ by the Penguins.
The Penguins is an American doo-wop group from Los Angeles, California. Four African American friends, Cleveland Duncan, Curtis Williams, Dexter Tisby, and Bruce Tate, formed the group in 1953. Williams came up with the idea and some of the lyrics to the song, which eventually lead to a legal dispute with a third party as well. However, the Penguins’ debut single, “Earth Angel” became the group’s only hit in their career.
Origin Story of “Earth Angel” by the Penguins
The Penguins recorded “Earth Ange” as a demo in a home garage of a friend of Williams. “Every time the dog barked next door, I’d have to go out and shut him up, and then we’d do another take,” recalls Williams. As a demo version, the song only has a piano and drums as music. But this song is one which ‘less is more.’
The song was released on the B-side of a record with A-side containing “Hey Señorita” in October 1954. Although A-side is deemed to be the focus of a record, in this case, B-side captured the hearts of radio stations and masses.
The song went on to sell over 10 million copies worldwide. It is still considered to be one of the definitive doo-wop songs of all time.
“Earth Angel” also earned the Penguins a spot on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time’ at #152. It was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock,’ and one of the 50 songs to be included in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress, and inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.
Listen to “Earth Angel” by the Penguins
“Earth Angel” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
“Earth Angel” is not a complex lyrical work. The song professes love to a partner and hopes that the partner sees the singer in the same light.
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
These are some of the most famous lyrics in R&B history. The singer addresses their partner as ‘earth angel’ to emphasize how much they mean to the singer. The Earth is considered to be the most beautiful planet among its neighbors in the Solar System. So it is not uncommon that Earth is often personified for its beauty and equaled to the angels from the heavens above. This is the magnitude of regard the singer holds for their partner.
The singer fell in hard for this person and the singer doesn’t even mind being a ‘fool in love.’ If this love turns out to be a mistake, it would be one that he would be glad to shoulder.
I hope and I pray that someday
I’ll be the vision of your happiness
The singer only hopes that their partner also sees the singer in the same light or that the singer can live up to the partner’s expectations of love and happiness.
Watch the Penguins Perform “Earth Angel” Live in 1973
This song is a sweet tribute to love and each other’s commitment to love and happiness.
Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics on Genius.