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.