November 30, 2012

Back In The Day

The Drifters

Back In The Day

By Eddie Estrada


ooking back,” as the great Nat King Cole once sang, I think of the great R&B groups — today known as Doo-wops — black or white artists. Myself, I’m more partial to the black sound from the early ‘50s to the early ‘60s, with the mid-‘50s being the height of this wonderful Doo-wop era. Not to take away from Rockabilly, Jazz, Blues or many other genres of music.

What I like about the group sound was that the ballads were pure, clean and sweet. The jump sides were very catchy, simple and fun. I mean, once you heard a record like “Get a Job,” it stayed on your mind. Or, “Don’t Ask Me to Be Lonely” by the Dubs: Wow! What a beautiful ballad.

The Platters

The Platters

This was when lead singers, such as Tony Williams of the Platters or Clyde McPhatter of the Dominoes & Drifters, put out great stuff. You heard them once, with those powerful distinctive voices, and never forgot them.

There are just too many others to mention. Not like today when, in my opinion, most everything is bland. R&B is not R&B the way I knew it. Even Country music sounds Pop now.

Growing up as a young lad, I remember going to the Hunter Hancock Record Hops at Garvey Park gym in South San Gabriel. I would walk about a mile singing “Walking Along” by the great Solitaires group — a nice happy mid-tempo tune that put me in good spirits. This was back in ‘57 or ‘58 before gang bangers and perverts were prevalent.

I also recall the first El Monte Legion Stadium show I went to. Getting ready was a big thing — wearing my spit shine Florsheim shoes, putting on speckled baggy suit pants my maverick style ruffled, white dress shirt with cuff links, and most of all, that spongy thin tie and matching suspenders. Oh, I can’t forget putting on that great Three Flowers hair grease. What a fragrance. With my duck tail hair — man, I was set to kill. I’m gonna score tonight! (Never did).

I tell you, those were the days. Be there or be square. Blowing All Nite Long, Joe Houston and Chuck Higgins Pachuko Hop. It didn’t get any better.

I hope you liked this little time capsule of back in my days. The bottom line is, enjoy your music, whatever it may be — for me it’s the only thing that makes any sense today and gives me a little peace of mind. Keep that vinyl spinning.


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