|THIS PAGE UPDATED: 8-20-2000|
UPDATE: The Eternals performed at our 7/8/2000 show.
A review and photos can be found on our Show #32 page.
For a group that only had three releases, The Eternals have weathered the years very well, and today they're considered one of the most polished groups on the doo-wop circuit. The Eternals proved to be a prophetic name after all.
The core of The Eternals formed in the Bronx in 1955 and sang under various names, such as The Starlights and The Gleamers, before settling on their final moniker in 1959 when they recorded their first song, "Rockin' in the Jungle," which lead singer Charlie Girona had originally written as "Christmas in the Jungle." When the novelty single, complete with sound effects from the group, was released on Morty Craft's Hollywood label in the summer of 1959, "Rockin' in the Jungle" became a New York hit, though it reached only as high on the national charts as #78. The Puerto Rican quintet found itself performing around town on shows sponsored by deejays Bruce Murrow and Murray the K.
Their follow-up record, "Babalu's Wedding Day," which featured tenor saxophone great King Curtis, looked like it was ready to break out and become a national hit. Unfortunately, the group's manager got them involved in a lawsuit against local bookers that effectively stopped the record's distribution. The only good news was that the song continued to be popular as a jingle for WABC disc jockey Bob Lewis.
The Eternals disbanded in 1962, but various members periodically brought parts of the old group back for oldies shows. Finally, most of the surviving members got back together in 1999 and put together a complete, hour-plus doo-wop show that has been wowing audiences wherever doo-wop is still performed.
Carlos "Charlie" Girona, lead (1957-1962, 1999-2000)
Ernie Sierra, second tenor (1955-1962, 1972-2000)
Fred "Pineapple" Hodge, second tenor (1958-1960, 1994-2000)
George Villanueva, second lead tenor (1960-1962, 1994-2000)
George "Tito" Santiago, first tenor (1972-2000)
Herman Velez, baritone
Fred Clavel, bass
Anibal "Arnie" Torres, baritone (1955-1962)
Alex Miranda, bass (1955-1962; died 1971)
|Hollywood 68||"Rockin' in the Jungle"/"Rock 'n' Roll Cha-Cha"||1959|
|Hollywood 70||"Babalu's Wedding Day"/"My Girl"||1959|
|Warwick 611||"Blind Date"/"Today"*||1961|
|*lead vocal by George Villanueva; all other leads by Charlie Girona|
"I went home one day and started watching a TV program," says Charlie Girona. "In those days there was a Cuban television program tha aired daily in New York City. This particular show featured Miguelito Valdes singing a song 'Babalu,' as part of a story about a wedding. I just started putting this together with [group member] Fred Hodge's upcoming wedding. I also wanted to do a novelty song, so I started creating characters like big Babalina and wimpy Babalu."
Valdes originally recorded the song "Babalu" with Xavier Cugat's orchestra in 1941. The record became a U.S. hit (#27) three years later. The song subsequently became associated with Latin bandleader and TV personality Desi Arnaz.
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