It’s surprising the things you learn and find out about by doing a crossword puzzle. The clue was about a song recorded by the Crew-Cuts in 1955 and the answer was Earth Angel which was the title of one of their songs. I thought it was a wonderful idea – an earth angel as opposed to a heavenly angel. I’m not generally a fan of songs about angels, even famous ones such as I walk into an empty room and suddenly my heart goes boom – it’s an orchestra of angels and they’re playing with my heart by Annie Lennox, nor even by my favourite band the Mavericks singing Willie Nelson’s ‘Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground – If you had not have fallen then I would not have found you, angel flying too close to the ground.
To be honest, when I heard Earth Angel I wasn’t particularly impressed by the actual song – just the title. The Crew-Cuts look like something from ancient history now, their hair, their style, their fashion – their music! Coming from Canada this all white band were very popular in their day, they were, as Wikipedia says ‘one of the first connections made between pop music and hairstyle‘. There were four of them, Rudi Maugeri, brothers John and Ray Perkins and Pat Barrett. Although Earth Angel was a hit for them, they’re most known for a song originally by The Chords record, ‘Sh-Boom’.
Investigating Earth Angel, I discovered it had been a hit in 1954 for The Penguins, who had written it. The original record had Earth Angel as its B side, bu a dj played it and it became the hit! The Penguins were a black group, a group of friends form school, Cleveland Duncan,, Curtis Williams, Dexter Tisby and Bruce Tate – although there were changes in line-up over their active years up to 2012. The song was a mixture of rhythm and blues and doo-wop which seems to have been the origin of what we now think of as soul music – my favourite genre!
Investigating the song further I found it continued in many forms by many different artists over the years and featured in the film ‘Back to the Future’. It sold over ten million copies by the Penguins, and goodness knows how many more by the Crew-Cuts. I discovered that one of my favourite bands Death Cab for Cutie in 2005… the appalling Tiny Tom also recorded, but the less said the better about him!
My favourite version is the original:
Isn’t that amazing?!!!