The Penguins were an American doo wop band formed in the 1950s, probably most known for the R & B number one hit song “Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)”. The band was founded in the year 1954 in LA by their members Duncan, Williams, Tate and Tisby, who attended Fremont High School together. In the same year, the Penguins signed a record deal with the independent record label Dootone Records, their first single being Hey Senorita (with Earth Angel as a B side). Soon, however, it became clear that Earth Angel was way more popular than Hey Senorita. Early in 1955, Earth Angel hit the top position in various singles charts across the globe, where it remained a few weeks among the top 10 on R & B and pop charts.
A little later, Tate left the band and was replaced by Randolph Jones. In 1956 the Penguins switched labels, first to Mercury Records and then to Atlantic, where in 1957 they scored their second top position R & B chart hit, “Pledge of Love”. That same year, they also released their only album “The Cool, Cool Penguins”. In 1959, the band moved back to L.A. and were separated for a short period of time. The Penguins had Frank Zappa and Ray Collins write a song especially for them. The single was not a commercial success, however, and the band split again.
Earth Angel was featured in the 1985 Oscar winning film “Back to the Future”. The Penguins were one of the many doo wop bands at the time to have taken their name after a bird (other examples include The Orioles, The Crows and The Flamingos). One of the members of the band smoked Kool cigarettes, featuring Willie the Penguin as an advertising strategy and they allegedly drew inspiration from that in order to name the band.