‘Cleve’ Duncan succumbs at 77
Lead singer on ‘Earth Angel'
Cleveland “Cleve” Duncan, the lead singer for the Penguins died Tuesday, Nov. 6, in Los Angeles. He was 77.
The group was started in 1953 by former classmates Duncan and Curtis Williams after the addition of Dexter Tisby and Bruce Tate.
Williams, a former member of the Hollywood Flames, offered the group a song called “Earth Angel,” which the Penguins recorded with Duncan on lead vocals.
The song was on the B-side of the Dootone recording while “Hey Senorita’ was featured on the A-side.
When a disc jockey flipped the record over, “Earth Angel” shot to the top of the R&B charts.
Buck Ram, who became the group’s manager, sold their contract to Mercury Records after “Angel” made it big on the condition that the company also take a fledgling group called The Platters. One report said Ram had given the best material to the Platters, while the Penguins never had another big hit.
The Penguins reformed with other members many times, but Duncan always continued.
“Earth Angel” can still be heard regularly on Art Laboe’s “Hot 92.3 Old School” radio program.
The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004.
People often describe me as troubled. I’m not going to say that I’m not. But I’m not crazy. I have troubles. A lot of us do. But you need to understand where I’m coming from and why I am the way I am. Considering what I’ve been through, it’s a miracle that I’ve been able to hold it together. I’m just trying to find my way. [I’ve read newspaper stories about me that] say, “Experts testify [that boy] is psychotic.” The way they describe me is wrong—bi-polar, depression, pyro, whatever. I know I’m not at all.
Bobbie Smith, who as a member of the Spinners sang lead on such hits as “I’ll Be Around” and “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love,” has died. He was 76.
Smith died Saturday of complications of pneumonia and the H1N1 flu virus, according to a statement from Nat Burgess, the Spinners’ manager.
Cardiss Collins, the first African American woman to represent the state of Illinois in Congress, died Feb. 3 at a Virginia hospital from complications of pneumonia following a stroke, a family friend said.
She was 81.
Collins originally was elected to fill the seat left vacant when her husband, Congressman George W. Collins, who represented what was then the 7th District, was killed in a 1972 airplane crash. For much of the 1980s, she was the only Black woman in Congress.
A memorial service for Keith Marvin Charles Conception was held Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Center for Spiritual Living in Inglewood. Conception, 25, was born on Nov. 21, 1987, in Los Angeles and presented to the Lewis and Kimble families shortly after his birth.
Services were held recently for Lillian Miles Lewis, wife of Rep. John Lewis, who died on New Years Eve. She was 73.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it was after taking a job as a librarian at Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University) that she met her husband at a 1967 New Year’s Eve party at the home of television personality and civil rights activist Xernona Clayton.
The two were married less than a year later and had a partnership that spanned 44 years.