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The El Dorados

One of the leading R&B vocal groups on Vee Jay, the El Dorados had a relatively short career with their first lineup, during which they scored a massive crossover hit, 1955's "At My Front Door" (number 17 on the pop charts and number one R&B, where it remained for 18 weeks). They managed only one other charting record -- 1956's "I'll Be Forever Loving You" -- before their initial breakup in 1959. Subsequent lineups and name changes (and alterations) brought no further success, but they continued performing well into the '80s.

The original group featured five members -- Pirkle Lee Moses Jr. (lead), Louis Bradley (tenor), Jewel Jones (second tenor and baritone), James Maddox (baritone and bass), and Robert Glasper (bass) -- when they formed in the Englewood section of Chicago's south side in 1952 while still attending Englewood High School (the same school that the Moroccos attended). They were calling themselves the Five Stars. Johnny Moore, their high school custodian, liked the group so much and thought they showed so much promise, that he became their manager.

In 1954, just after graduation, Moses and Glasper took advantage of the Air Force's 90-day active duty program, but while Moses returned, Glasper remained with the Air Force. By then, Arthur Bassett (tenor) had temporarily replaced Moses, and Richard Nickens came in for Glasper. The Five Stars were now six, and a name change was inevitable. They were about to become the Cardinals (apparently, they had no knowledge of Atlantic's New York-based group) when the craze for naming your group after a popular car model hit, and since they couldn't call themselves the Cadillacs, the settled for Cadillacs' luxurious two-door model, the El Dorado, for inspiration. The El Dorados came to the attention of local Chicago WWCA disc jockey Al Benson, who witnessed first-hand how their gorgeous blend of harmonies and talent made for an exciting new group that he could support. They had already won first prize at a local talent show at the Club De Lisa. Benson arranged for the group to audition at a contest hosted by Vee Jay Records at the Park City Skating Rink. Amateur groups were challenged to compete against Vee Jay's Spaniels. The El Dorados rose to the challenge, winning the contest and a recording contract with the label.

The El Dorados' first single, a bluesy ballad called "My Loving Baby," was issued in September 1954, and was a popular regional seller. Their next effort had the group backing up Hazel McCollum on "Annie's Answer," which was Vee Jay's contribution to the ongoing "Annie" saga begun by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. Perhaps tiring of all the Annie nonsense, Arthur Bassett ankled the El Dorados (he also joined the Air Force), and the sextet slimmed down to a quintet. During the third week of September 1955, Vee Jay released the group's "At My Front Door," which stormed the Billboard R&B charts on September 24th and the Top 100 on October 15th. The song featured Al Duricati's pounding drum rhythm and a rousing sax solo. The so-called "baby talk" pre-finale by Moses Jr. made the record soar even further, and the lyrics about that "crazy little mama" became as legendary as the Annie saga. By the end of the year it had climbed to number 17 on the pop charts and number one R&B, where it remained for 18 weeks. (Pat Boone later did a cover version that charted at number seven pop).

Their follow-up, "I'll Be Forever Lovin' You" (originally recorded by the Rip Chords but never released), was issued during the second week of December. It was a rocker that exuded jazz, pop, and R&B overtones, but although it made it to number eight R&B in February 1956, it never charted on the pop lists. Soon after the release of the follow-up, Nickens left and the El Dorados soldiered on as a quartet. A few additional singles performed well in certain U.S. cities, but didn't measure up to their prior hit status. Their next single, "Tears on My Pillow" (a different song from Little Anthony and the Imperials' hit record), was the last by all of the original El Dorados; soon after its release, the group and Pirkle Moses Jr. separated over a disagreement on new management.

Moses Jr. soon joined another Vee Jay act, the Kool Gents, who had been left without a singer when their frontman, Dee Clark, departed for a solo career. John McCall (tenor), Douglas Brown (second tenor), Teddy Long (second tenor and baritone), and Johnny Carter (bass) of the Kool Gents joined with Moses Jr., to become the New El Dorados. They released two singles in 1958 for Vee Jay, but when neither sold, they eventually left Vee Jay in a money dispute and subsequently disbanded altogether.

During this same time, the remaining El Dorados -- Jones, Bradley, and Maddox -- joined up with new lead singer Marvin Smith. Smith had moved with his family to the west side of Chicago in the late '40s, where he attended Crane High and sang on street corners and in church choirs, before joining the group as their new lead vocalist. To avoid legal problems with Vee Jay, the group's name was changed to Those Four El Dorados for 1958's "A Lonely Boy," Academy Records of Chicago. Jewel Jones' name on the label was spelled J-u-e-l-l (each member's name was listed). Those Four El Dorados' later traveled to the West Coast, and connected with a former NBA basketball star Don Barksdale, who had formed his Rhythm Record Company in Oakland, CA. The group changed monikers again, this time calling themselves the Tempos, but the group faltered again, and returned to Chicago, splitting up in 1961.

Marvin Smith went on to join the Artistics on Okeh and Brunswick Records as the lead for such R&B charters as "I'm Gonna Miss You" (number 55 Top 100, number nine R&B, 1966) and "Girl I Need You" (number 69 Top 100, number 26 R&B, 1967). Johnny Carter, meanwhile, tried to keep the name alive by forming yet another new New El Dorados in late 1959, with John McCall, Danny Edwards, and Eugene Huff (formerly of the Valquins). This group lasted until 1965. Carter tried again in 1971, hooking up with Huff, Spence Goulsby, Jr., and Lee Toussaint on lead for two sides on Paula, but that group was gone by the early '80s. Moses Jr. recorded with an unknown group as the Squires in 1963 on Boss ("It's Time") and then did a solo effort titled The Docks. In 1965, Moses Jr., Melvin Morrow, and George Prager (the latter two late of the Moroccos) came together as the Major Minors. In 1969, this group once again became the El Dorados, doing a single for Torrid Records. Pirkle Moses Jr. then quit for almost a decade but returned with yet another El Dorados-lineup with tenor Norman Palm (from the Pastels on United), second tenor Billy Henderson, George Prayer (baritone), and Anthony Charles (bass). Around 1985 Henderson left and Anthony Charles passed away. Eugene Huff (of Carter's El Dorados) and Larry Johnson (Moroccos) took their places and the group recorded a ballad for Delano Records in 1987. In effect, that last El Dorados recording group contained members formerly in four Chicago-area groups: the Palms, the Moroccos, the Kool Gents, and the El Dorados. On December 26, 2000, the original El Dorados lead vocalist Pirkle Lee Moses, Jr. passed away. ~ Bryan Thomas
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Doo Wop Pops (Volume Three)

1. My Baby's Gone

2. A Fallen Tear

3. Why Don't You Write Me

4. Fifty Million Women

5. Don't Be Angry

6. Close Your Eyes

7. Story Untold

8. Why Did You Leave Me

9. My Baby's 3D

10. Chop Chop Ching A Ling

11. Sincerely

12. I Didn't Know

x

Track List: Rock 'N' Roll Love Songs

Disc 1

1. Chapel Of Love

2. True Love Ways

3. Hey Baby!

4. Make It Easy On Yourself

5. Devil Doll

6. To Know Him Is To Love Him

7. Unchained Melody

8. Take These Chains From My Heart

9. Your Cheatin' Heart

10. I Forgot To Remember To Forget

11. Your True Love

12. Got You On My Mind

13. Save The Last Dance For Me

14. You're The Nearest Thing To Heaven

15. True Love, True Love

16. I'm Gonna Knock On Your Door

17. Devoted To You

18. Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight

Disc 2

1. Oh, What A Night

2. Take A Message To Mary

3. Nobody But You

4. Ballad Of A Teenage Queen

5. I'll Be Forever Loving You

6. Heartbeat

7. Put Your Cat Clothes On

8. Baby Blue

9. Sweet Little Sixteen

10. Loving A Girl Like You

11. Sixteen Candles

12. With This Ring

13. Since I Don't Have You

14. Swinging On A Star

15. Stay

16. Too Young

17. Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye

18. For Your Precious Love

x

Track List: The Big Gundown - Reggae Inspired By Spaghetti Westerns

x

Track List: The History Of Rhythm And Blues, Vol. 2

1. Hi-Yo-Silver

3. Don't Do It

4. Hey

5. Gotta Find My Baby

7. Baby, Let's Play House

8. Loving A Girl Like You

9. Go Back

11. Boom, Boom

12. Lilly Maybelle

13. Fine As Wine

14. Honey From The Bee

15. Big Leg Mama

16. Salty Dog

17. Why Don't You Write Me

18. Hey Now

19. Angel Child

20. At My Front Door

21. I

22. The Last Of The Good Rocking Men

23. Red Hot

x

Track List: Vee-Jay: The Definitive Collection

Disc 1

2. Baby, It's You

3. Goodnite Sweetheart, Goodnite

4. Ain't Times Hard

5. You Don't Have To Go

7. I Wish You Would

8. At My Front Door

9. Hurt My Feelings

10. Bad Boy

11. Somewhere To Lay My Head

13. Fool's Prayer

14. Oop De Oop

15. I'll Be Forever Loving You

16. Ain't That Lovin' You Baby

18. Up On The Mountain

19. Big Town Playboy

20. Rock 'n' Roll Mama

21. Oh What A Nite

Disc 2

1. Dimples

2. The Telephone Is Ringing

4. Uncloudy Day

6. Mother's Son

8. Honest I Do

9. Farther Along

10. You Can Make It If You Try

11. It Hurts Me Too

14. Blues Get Off My Shoulder

15. For Your Precious Love

17. I Love You Honey

18. Leave You In The Hands Of The Lord

19. Nobody But You

21. Crying For My Baby

Disc 3

1. Mary Don't You Weep

2. Steppin' Out

3. Just A Little Bit

6. Will The Circle Be Unbroken

7. Easy Lovin'

8. No Shoes

10. He Will Break Your Heart

11. Exodus

12. Big Boss Man

13. Raindrops

14. Every Beat Of My Heart

16. Bright Lights, Big City

17. Nite Owl

18. Duke Of Earl

19. Real Gone Mama

21. Boom Boom

Disc 4

1. I'm A Woman

2. Make It Easy On Yourself

3. Sherry

4. Rainbow

7. Body Surf

8. You're No Good

10. The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)

11. Steal Away

12. Have I The Right

13. Let It Be Me

15. Getting Mighty Crowded

17. Tainted Love

18. Billy's Bag

19. Stay In My Corner

21. Let's Do It Over

22. I Don't Know What You've Got But It's Got Me

x

Track List: Vocal Groups: Classic Doo Wop

Disc 1

4. Swing Is The Thing

6. I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water

7. If I Didn't Care

9. Whispering Grass

11. That's The Rhythm

12. I Like Pie, I Like Cake

13. Milk Shake Stand

15. The Blues Can Jump

17. Hoe Cake, Hominy And Sassafras Tea

20. Write Me A Letter

21. Around About Midnite

23. It's Too Soon To Know

Disc 2

1. Too Much Of A Little Bit

3. Lemon Squeezing Daddy

5. My Baby's Gone

6. How Could You

8. Will You Be Mine

10. Make Me Thrill Again

11. Mary Jo

12. Ting-A-Ling

13. Stormy Weather

14. Eyesight To The Blind

15. The Glory Of Love

17. Good Googa Mooga

18. Just Walking In The Rain

20. Money Honey

21. Gee

22. I Found Out

23. A Sunday Kind Of Love

24. Get With It

Disc 3

1. Be Bop Wino

2. Feel So Good

3. Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite

5. Tell Me

6. Big Leg Mama

8. Is It A Dream

11. Hearts Of Stone

12. Baby Let Me Bang Your Box

13. The Stars Are Out Tonight

15. Gloria

16. Riot In Cell Block No.9

17. Oop Shoop

18. Grief By Day, Grief By Night

19. What Do You Do

20. Mary Lee

23. Buick '59

24. Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)

25. Newly Wed

Disc 4

1. Smokey Joe's Cafe

2. You Didn't Learn It At Home

3. Witchcraft

4. Chop Chop Boom

5. Rollin' Stone

6. No No Cherry

7. My Angel

9. The Door Is Still Open

10. That's Your Mistake

11. Baby Let's Play House

12. Be Bop Baby

14. Hug A Little, Kiss A Little

16. When You Dance

17. At My Front Door

18. Lonely Nights

19. Red Hots And Chili Mac

20. Bye Bye

21. A Story Untold

22. Don't Play No Mambo

23. Peace And Contentment

24. Nobody Knows

26. The Great Pretender

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