The Story and Music of The El Dorados

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Introduction to The El Dorados

The El Dorados are an R&B and doo-wop vocal group from Chicago, Illinois, active during the 50s music era. Formed in 1952, they were initially labeled as “Pirkle Lee and the Five Stars,” formed by Pirkle Lee Moses Jr. Other members of the original lineup consisted of Louis Bradley, Arthur Basset, Jewel Jones, James Maddox and Richard Nickens. They later named themselves as The El Dorados. The group was then signed to Vee-Jay Records in 1954, and they recorded their earliest tunes, including “At My Front Door.” It went to the Top 20 pop chart the following year. They also had another hit with “I’ll Be Forever Loving You” which reached the R&B charts in 1956. The original group split in 1957, and Moses formed another new lineup of the El Dorados while other members of the group established an entirely new group called the Tempos. In 1969 Moses reformed the group once more, and the Tempo’s Johnny Carter formed another version of the El Dorados. These two groups pitted against each other until they merged in the late 1970s, continuing to perform until Moses’ death in 2000. But the group and the music live on, with long time member Normal Palm taking the helm, renaming themselves as Pirkle Lee Moses Jr.’s El Dorados as a tribute to the founder of the group, as well as Palm’s friend.

Meet The El Dorados

Known for their radio hit “At My Front Door,” The El Dorados are an R&B and doo-wop group originally known as “Pirkle Lee and The Five Stars.” Formed in Chicago in 1952, the quintet was composed by tenor Arthur Basset , second tenor/baritone Jewel Jones, baritone, bass vocalists James Maddox and Richard Nickens and lead vocalist Pirkle Lee Moses Jr. In the early 1950’s, Moses was enlisted to the United States Air Force and when he was released from duty in 1954, they decided to change their name to The El Dorados.

The start of The El Dorados’ recording fame

Vee-Jay Records owner Vivian Carter heard The El Dorados’ material and offered them a recording contract. In mid-1954, the group had their first release, and then several low-charted singles. The El Dorados’ hit singles came in 1955 with the songs “At My Front Door” (known also as “Crazy Little Mama”) and “I’ll Be Forever Loving You.” “At My Front Door” became a chart-topper in the Billboard R&B chart and reached #17 on the pop chart while “I’ll Be Forever Loving You” became one of the Top Ten R&B hits.

Rise to Fame

In the 1950s, The El Dorados was a well-liked doo-wop group recognized for their close harmonies and catchy melodies. With the smash song “At My Front Door (Crazy Little Mama),” which peaked at #1 on the R&B charts and #17 on the pop charts in 1955, they enjoyed worldwide attention. The track was a big hit and helped the El Dorados become one of the leading doo-wop groups of the day.

“I’ll Be Forever Loving You,” the El Dorados’ follow-up single, peaked at #6 on the R&B chart and #18 on the pop list. Also, this song featured the group’s distinctive harmonies and contributed to their reputation as one of the best doo-wop groups at the time.

Despite their fame, the El Dorados were unable to maintain it in the 1960s’ shifting musical climate, and the group split up in 1963. Yet, their impact can still be heard in contemporary R&B and doo-wop music, and lovers of the genre still like their tunes.

Personnel changes and El Dorados’ comeback

In 1957, The El Dorados’ original lineup disbanded. Basset and Nickens left the group in the mid 1950’s. Moses, who went on to stay in Chicago, formed a new version of The El Dorados with some members of another group the Kool Gents. Relocating to California, the remaining three original members Bradley, Jones and Maddox became The Tempos.

Moses embarked on a tour with a group of several backing vocalists when The El Dorados’ contract with Vee Jay expired in 1958. Along with a new formation, Moses revived the El Dorados in 1969. That was also the time when the former Tempos Johnny Carter also toured with another El Dorados which resulted as some sort of a competition. From the late 1970’s to 2000, both groups continued to tour and release records. Moses continued to perform until he died in 2000.

As a tribute for Moses, the long-time member of The El Dorados’ 70’s lineup and friend Norman Palm took over, renaming the group Pirkle Lee Moses Jr’s El Dorados. They have been actively performing across the Midwest and East Coast around 2008.

Songs of The El Dorados

  1. “At My Front Door” (1995) – The El Dorados’ most well-known song has a catchy tune and an enthusiastic rhythm. The song was covered by several singers and peaked at #17 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  2. “I’ll Be Forever Loving You” (1955) – A gorgeous ballad, this song highlights the group’s vocal harmonies. Both the R&B chart and the pop chart saw it peak at number six.
  3. “Bim Bam Boom” (1956) – The group’s distinctive call-and-response vocalization, “bim bam boom,” is featured in this upbeat, jovial song. On the R&B chart, it peaked at #13.
  4. “I Began to Realize” (1956) – The group’s ability to emote with their vocals is demonstrated in this heartfelt ballad.
  5. “At My Front Door (Crazy Little Mama)” (1955) – This is the group’s hit song redone with a longer duration and a slightly modified arrangement.
  6. “Tears on My Pillow” (1958) – Little Anthony and the Imperials sang this song; nevertheless, the El Dorados covered it in their own recording in 1958. It has the distinctive harmonies of the group and is slower paced than the original.
  7. “A Fallen Tear” (1957) – This song is a heartbreaking ballad that demonstrates the group’s talent for using their vocals to exude genuine emotion.
  8. “One More Chance” (1957) – This song highlights the group’s gorgeous harmonies and has a gentle, romantic melody.
  9. “Now That You’ve Gone” (1958) – This song is a solemn song that highlights the group’s vocal range and capacity to express a wide range of emotions.
  10. “She Don’t Run Around” (1962) – Pirkle Lee Moses, the lead singer of this song, who had previously been with the El Dorados, shows off his vocal prowess even though it was released after the band had broken up. The song has a catchy chorus and a soulful, bluesy melody.

Conclusion

The Chicago-based doo-wop group The El Dorados had a significant impact on the development of R&B music in the 1950s. They created several timeless singles that are still well-liked by doo-wop and R&B music fans today. They are renowned for their smooth harmonies, catchy rhythms, and soulful sound.

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