‘ Bring Back Those Memories of El Monte’ Recalls Los Angeles’ Doowop Era



 Memories of El Monte

– Zappa, Penquins Classic

Nostalgic Tribute to Los

Angeles’  ‘Happy Days’ Doowop



Though the song ‘Memories of El Monte‘ came out in 1963,   after the doo-wop era,  it was a perfect  song collaboration of a young Frank Zappa and the Penguins ( of ‘ Earth Angel’ fame) .   Probably due to its late arrival, the song never was a hit on the charts but it’s become an ‘under-the-radar’ classic, especially for those who grew up during the era and remember ‘those wonderful dances in El Monte .’  What makes the song extra special are the   ‘drop in’  songs and mentions of  the popular, largely  Los Angeles- based groups  The Shields, the Five Satins, the Heartbeats, the Medallions and Tony Allen and of course, the Penguins so popular at the El Monte dances.  Famed Los Angeles DJs like Hunter Hancock, Art Laboe (who produced the song-see album cover above- and very much still with us) and Johnny Otis were instrumental in bringing about this music and live performances not only at El Monte,  where, notably, young folks of all races easily mixed.  Frank Zappa wonderfully chronicled these special times and memories , Cleve Duncan and the Penguins sang about them and the aforementioned DJs recounted them in concert and over the airwaves.  Laboe tells below how the Legion Stadium concerts came about, below.


Many years later -in the 1980s and 1990s, Brian Bierne of KRTH DID bring back memories of El Monte but at Los Angeles’ fabled Greek Theater with ‘Legends in Concert  ‘  for one night every year, in October. Though we never saw the original El Monte Legion Stadium,  we could imagine what it was like as nostalgia flowed at the Greek with long-forgotten artists such as TONY ALLEN, GENE CHANDLER, JIMMY JONES to name a few and many more mostly long forgotten one-hit wonders -many of whom hadn’t performed in decades – were brought back for one special night, once a year in October, until that suddenly stopped. (Will have an article on that to come. Bierne continues to host mostly oldies tribute concerts, but nothing like the aforementioned.)


MEMORIES OF EL MONTE  written by FRANK ZAPPA and performed by CLEVE DUNCAN and the PENGUINS  (1963)

I’m all alone.
Feeling so blue.
Thinking about you
And the love we once knew.
And each time I do,
It brings back those memories
Of El Monte.

Remember the dance.
I held you so tight.
The Satins were singing
In the still of the night.
You gave me your heart
And your love undying.
Now I’m alone…
I’m sitting here crying.


If only they had
Those dances again,
I’d know where to find you,
And all my old friends.
The Shields would sing…
“You cheated. You lied…”
And the Heartbeats…
“You’re a thousand miles away…”
And the Medaillons with “The Letter” and…
“Sweet words of his mortality…”
Marvin and Johnny with…
“Cherry Pie…”
And then, Tony Allen with…
“Night owl…”
And I, Cleve Duncan, along with the Penguins,
will sing…
“Earth angel
Earth Angel
Will you be mine?”
At El Monte.


If I could go back
To those days of the past,
I’d show you a love…
A love that would last.
Oh, I remember
Those wonderful dances
In El Monte.
In El Monte.
“Earth angel
Earth Angel
Will you be mine?”
At El Monte

Art Laboe and the

El Monte Legion Stadium

Art Laboe

If Ol’ H.H. was the father of R&B radio in Los Angeles…Art Laboe can be credited as the father of Rock N’ Roll radio in the City of Angels. In 1955 Art made his debut in Los Angeles as a deejay for radio station KXLA, although Hunter Hancock had been in Los Angeles playing rhythm and blues for some time, Laboe was the first to play Rock N’ Roll. In 1950 Laboe started doing his shows from Scrivner’s Drive-In Restaurant chain (then only numbering three). As the chain grew so did Art’s audience, his live dedication shows drew groups and car clubs from all corners of Los Angeles County. At the time most of the drive-ins could only support about thirty cars. Art needed more room so Scrivner’s built a huge drive-in on Imperial and Western that could accommodate 200 cars; the hill top restaurant may have been the first low rider Mecca in the county. Art claims his connection with the people of Los Angeles especially the Chicano community started during his time at Scrivner’s. Teens had a place where they could listen to “their” music and also a place to be heard, Laboe claims to have aired 25,000 dedications from the restaurant chain in five years. His popularity prompted concert promoter Hal Zieger and bandleader Johnny Otis to hire him to emcee their live shows. At his first show held at the Shrine Auditorium some time in 1957 Art received such a favorable response that he became a regular, hosting shows at the Orpheum, United Artist and paramount Theaters. During this period Art also started to emcee dances on the outskirts of Los Angeles’ city limits. Dances for teens held within the Los Angeles City limits required a permit from the school board and Art wanted his dances for all ages so he used dance halls in neighboring cities. Although dances were held in Anaheim, Long Beach and San Bernardino it was El Monte, which eventually became his headquarters. Laboe rotated his schedule weekly with El Monte Legions Stadium getting a show every other week. The best in rhythm and blues talent, both national and local were booked at his shows. According to Laboe “We always had our local groups the Penguins, the Carlos Brotheres, Jesse Belvin, the Turks, Bobby Day and Rosie and the Originals, then we would reach out to the groups from the East like Chuck Berry, Jackie Wilson and the Drifters it was all about good times.” The good times continued after the dances were over, car clubs would pack the street around the dance halls showing off their cars and trying their luck with the girls which came streaming out of the dance hall. Not only was El Monte Art Laboe’s weekend headquarters, it also became a magnet for Black, White, Chicano youth and aspiring rock n’ roll stars. Cannibal and the Headhunters, the Jaguars, the Premiers, The Carlos Brothers, the Salas Brothers, Ritchie Valens and Thee Midniters were just a few of the Chicano groups from Southern California’s barrios that performed at El Monte.

Listen to Your Favorites in One Stop, While You Shop…


Listen to Your Favorite Oldies in One Stop, While You Shop…

Listen to DOO-WOP with Krazy Kat – or –
We’ve got some great EARLY 60′s 45s loaded up on the JUKEBOX






Men's Deluxe Cedar Shoe Trees
Dad Will LOVE  A Pair of these


(just click on these lovely trees)


Charms Sour Balls, Set 2



MOM might  prefer

a can of these nice

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For the young adults how about some brain stimulation with

Classic Password Game

1950s Puzzleor  a Nice Puzzle

that will keep the kids

busy all day!





                       …AND THERE’S MORE! How’s about

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Irish Stew with Beef

Tired Old Ass Cream, 4 oz.

Walt Disney's Cinderella
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Country Weather Sticks, Set 2country weather stick

West Bend 2-Slice Toaster

West Bend 2-Slice Toaster

…and lot’s more here these came from!


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DOO WOP TEST – Are You a Real Doowopper?

Test your knowledge of Doo Wop Music from our High School period- OR not. You may know them anyway.

 30 questions with answers at the bottom.



Doo Wop Test

1. When did ”Little Suzie” finally wake up?
(a) The movie’s over, it’s 2 o’clock
(b) The movie’s over, it’s 3 o’clock
(c) The movie’s over, it’s 4 o’clock

2. ”Rock Around The Clock” was used in what movie?
(a) Rebel Without A Cause
(b) Blackboard Jungle
(c) The Wild Ones

3. What’s missing from a Rock & Roll standpoint? Earth _____
(a) Angel
(b) Mother
(c) Worm

4. ”I found my thrill . . .” where?
(a) Kansas City
(b) Heartbreak Hotel
(c) Blueberry Hill

5. ”Please turn on your magic beam, _____ _____ bring me a dream,”:
(a) Mr. Sandman
(b) Earth Angel
(c) Dream Lover

6. For which label did Elvis Presley first record?
(a) Atlantic
(b) RCA
(c) Sun

7. He asked, ”Why’s everybody always pickin’ on me?” Who was he?
(a) Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
(b) Charlie Brown
(c) Buster Brown

8. In Bobby Darin’s ”Mack The Knife,” the one with the knife, was named:
(a) MacHeath
(b) MacCloud
(c) MacNamara

9. Name the song with ”A-wop bop a-loo bop a-lop bam boom.”
(a) Good Golly, Miss Molly
(b) Be-Bop-A-Lula
(c) Tutti Fruitti

10. Who is generally given credit for originating the term ”Rock And Roll”?
(a) Dic k Clark
(b) Wolfman Jack
(c) Alan Freed


11. In 1957, he left the music business to become a preacher:
(a) Little Richard
(b) Frankie Lymon
(c) Tony Orlando

12. Paul Anka’s ”Puppy Love” is written to what star?
(a) Brenda Lee
(b) Connie Francis
(c) Annette Funicello

13. The Everly Brothers were . . …
(a) Pete and Dick
(b) Don and Phil
(c) Bob and Bill

14. The Big Bopper’s real name was:
(a) Jiles P. Richardson
(b) Roy Harold Scherer Jr.
(c) Marion Michael Morrison

15. In 1959, Berry Gordy, Jr.., started a small record company called…
(a) Decca
(b) Cameo
(c) Motown

16. Edd Brynes had a hit with ”Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb”. What TV show was he on?
(a) 77 Sunset Strip
(b) Hawaiian Eye
(c) Surfside Six

17. In 1960 Bobby Darin married:
(a) Carol Lynley
(b) Sandra Dee
(c) Natalie Wood

18.. They were a one hit wonder with ”Book Of Love”:
(a) The Penguins
(b) The Monotones
(c) The Moonglows

19.. The Everly Brothers sang a song called ”Till I ______ You.”
(a) Loved
(b) Kissed
(c) Met

20. Chuck Berry sang ”Oh, ___________, why can’t you be true?”
(a) Suzie Q
(b) Peggy Sue
(c) Maybelline

21. ”Wooly _______”
(a) Mammouth
(b) Bully
(c) Pully

22. ”I’m like a one-eyed cat . . . .”
(a) can’t go into town no more
(b) sleepin’ on a cold hard floor
(c) peepin’ in a seafood store

23. ”Sometimes I wonder what I’m gonna do . . . . ..”
(a) cause there ain’t no answer for a life without booze
(b) cause there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues
(c) cause my car’s gassed up and I’m ready to cruise

24.. ”They often call me Speedo, but my real name is … . . . . .”
(a) Mr. Earl
(b) Jackie Pearl
(c) Milton Berle

25. ”You’re my Fanny and nobody else’s ……”
(a) girl
(b) butt
(c) love

26. ”I want you to play with my . . . ”
(a) heart
(b) dreams
(c) ding a ling

27. ”Be Bop A Lula ….”
(a) she’s got the rabies
(b) she’s my baby.
(c) she loves me, maybe

28. ”Fine Love, Fine Kissing …”
(a) right here
(b) fifty cents
(c) just for you

29. ”He wore black denim trousers and . . .”
(a) a pink carnation
(b) pink leotards
(c) motorcycle boots

30. ”I got a gal named . … .”
(a) Jenny Zamboni
(b) Gerri Mahoney
(c) Boney Maroney







Scroll Down so you aren’t tempted to cheat (as if cheating were needed here).
* * * * * * * * * * * *

1 (c) The movie’s over, it’s 4 o’clock
2. (b) Blackboard Jungle
3. (a) Angel
4. (c) Blueberry Hill
5. (a) Mr. Sandman
6. (c) Sun
7. (b) Charlie Brown
8. (a) Mac Heath
9. (c) Tutti Fruitti
10. (c) Alan Freed
11. (a) Little Richard
12.. (c) Ann ette Funicello
13. (b) Don and Phil
14. (a) Jiles P. Richardson
15. (c) Motown
16. (a) 77 Sunset Strip
17. (b) Sandra Dee
18. (b) The Monotones
19. (b) Kissed
20. (c) Maybelline
21. (b) Bully
22. (c) peepin’ in a sea food store
23. (b) cause there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues
24. (a) Mr. Earl
25. (b) butt
26. (c) ding a ling
27. (b) she’s my baby
28. (a) right here
29. (c) motorcycle boots
30. (c) Boney Maroney

Send this to everyone lucky enough to be teenagers in the Doo Wop era…or who wishes they had been.

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