Jimmy McRacklin circa 1950s

CLEVE DUNCAN, pictured second from bottom, in 1955 along with his Penguins


Tom Mazzolini of the San Francisco Blues Festival said of him, “He was probably the most important musician to come out of the Bay Area in the post-World War II years. – And he was probalby one of the most underated artists. “[3]Jimmy McCracklin (August 13, 1921 – December 20, 2012) who passed thursday in San Pablo, CA, near Oakland, where he was a king of the blues during the Fifties, was an American pianist, vocalist, and songwriter. His style contained West Coast blues, Jump blues, and R&B.[1] Over a career that spanned seven decades, he said he had written almost a thousand songs and had recorded hundreds of them.[2] McCracklin recorded over 30 albums, and earned four gold records.  Less than a year ago, I ran into McCracklin’s right hand man , who gave me a copy of Mcracklin’s latest record – yes , he was still going strong at 90, as singer, muscian and producer, sho had come by the floor store I was at to purchase some flooring .  He was the very last of the original Oakland Blues scene , and managed a rare cross over record, ‘The Walk’  into the Pop Charts in the late 50s, the only Oakland Bliues singer to pull it off.


Cleve Duncan dies at 78; one of the Penguins on ‘Earth Angel’

The hit song’s dreamy romanticism would become a staple of oldies radio, but the original group was cast into the sea of one-hit wonders.

Cleve Duncan, whose plaintive tenor captured the heartache of teen love in the enduring 1954 doo-wop hit “Earth Angel,” died Nov. 7 in Los Angeles. He was 78.

A spokeswoman for the Inglewood Park Cemetery Mortuary confirmed his death but could not provide the cause.

“Earth Angel,” which reached No. 1 on rhythm and blues charts, was the only hit for the doo-wop act that Duncan fronted, the Penguins.

Sadly, little more than the above, from the Los Angeles Times was written about Duncan- he was better known in his hometown Los Angeles – and we found nothing about mcCracklin in the news other than article in the SF Chronicle, noted below.

McRacklin and Duncan will certainly live on in Oldies Country ,  their music and memories… a spirited performance from McCracklin, probably just from last few years with a classic swing song about his hometown, Richmond, CA and the Savoy where he played.  With Duncan we have his great followup hit to Earth Angel, ‘Memories of El Monte,’  written by none other than a young Frank Zappa, a big fan of doo-wop; Duncan reminisces about El Monte Legion Stadium, the legendary venue outside of Los angeles where many artists cut their teeth… the Shields, The Hearbeats, the Medallions, Marvin and Johnny and others.

Search TOM MAZZOLINI at KPFA Radio, Berkeley, CA for a nice tribute show, as well as article 12/21 by Lee Hildebrand in the San Francisco Chronicle