Total Pageviews

Saturday, May 26, 2012


The Ambertones, from left: Jimmy Alvarez (on drums), Eddie Delgado (above on bass), Mike Sandoval (guitar), Frank Vasquez, Danny Medina, Tony Cardenas (sax), and Henry Hernandez (guitar).

The original lineup was:
Ray Arriola - sax
Henry Hernandez - lead guitar
Mike Sandoval - rhythm guitar
Eddie Delgado - bass and vocals
Danny Medina - keyboards
Jimmy Alvarez - drums

Later members included:
Frank Vasquez (Frank Olvera?) - vocals
Charlie Muñoz - vocals
Tony Cardenas (or is it Tony Duran?) - saxophone
Henry Sarnoff joined on piano and organ in 1966
Ruben Alvarez - drums

Next to Thee Midniters probably my favorite Eastside band. The Ambertones were major contibutors toward the Eastside Sound because of their diverse playing styles. Blues, R&B, soul, garage, doo wop, surf.  The Ambertones could play them all.

The Ambertones began as as a band called The Scepters while the members were attending Roosevelt & Garfield High Schhol in East Los Angeles. Like many other Eastside bands they started playing surf music. By 1963 they started doing R&B covers. They came up with a new name, The Ambertones because one of the members wore an amber jacket.They played at high school teen dances & at local venues like the Union Hall and would win the first Battle of the Bands held at the Hollywood Palladium.

The group did go through several member and label changes from 1963-1969.

The Ambertones first recorded for the G.N.P Crescendo label in 1963. "Charlena" (a remake of the Sevilles classic wriiten by Chavez & Chaney) and "Bandido" (written by Manny Chavez) (GNP 329).

For their second single, The Ambertones moved to the Dottie label owned by their manager Leonard Mamola. "Chocolate Covered Ants" (written by Mamola) and "One Summer Night" (The 1958 Danleers doo wop classic written by Danny Webb (but mistakenly credited to Mamola). The record was released in 1965 (Dottie 1129)

Their third single and second single for Dottie was "I Need Someone" and "If I Do" released in October 1965 (Dottie 1130). "I Need Someone" is in my top ten of all Eastside classics and was also recorded by Thee Midniters. "If I Do" is a "garage sound" classic which makes this record highly sought after.

Because of the emense popularity of "I Need Someone" the record was reissued/bootlegged in 1969 on a pale blue Dottie label.

For their fourth single The Ambertones would record two more Leonard Mamola tunes, "Clap Your Hands" and Cruise" for the very rare Rayjack label in December 1965 (Rayjack 1001). "Cruise" is a take-off of Thee Midniters "Whittier Boulevard"

 The songs would be picked up by the Newman label in 1966 (Newman 601)

For their fifth single, The Ambertones stayed with the Rayjack label and recorded "I Can Only Give You Everything" (another garage classic) and a remake of "I Only Have Eyes For You" (Rayjack 1002) in 1966. The record was picked and released on Treasure Chest (Treasure Chest 001) in the same year but I do not have a scan of this record.

In 1967, The Ambertones moved to the White Whale label hoping for more national exposure. Their sixth single and first for White Whale was "Ninety-Nine And A Half" and "You Don't Know Like I Know" (White Whale 242). "Ninety-Nine And A Half" is a remake of the Wilson Pickett classic. "You Don't Know Like I Know" is a remake of a Sam & Dave tune. Around this time local disc jockey Casey Kasem had become thier manager who got them a job as the house band at pacific Ocean Park. They would also tour the United States with Dick Clark's Rock & Roll Revue.

For their seventh single, The Ambertones recorded their second single for White Whale. "A Million Tears" and "Little Bit Of Lovin" were released in 1969 (White Whale 302). "A Million Tears" is an absolutely fabulous ballad written by Ambertones member Frank Vasquez. "Little Bit Of Lovin" is a great mix of pop, soul & garage. This is a very underrated record.

The Ambertones also recorded "Cuartavara" and a surf instrumental "Hang Ten" but I have no information on these songs.



Soley for historical and educational purposes and for listening pleasure.


  1. RE: Charlena... A band called the Trippers released a copy on GNP in 1967. Have you heard this version?

  2. No I have not heard their version but would love to.

  3. I found it on YouTube. I see that the Trippers are from Los Angeles. Wish I could find more info on the group

  4. Hey Guy:
    Don't know if you noticed but the You Tube video for the Sevilles and the band Cognac on Roulette are the same version but maybe a dif take? Weird.

  5. Hi Guy and Snakeboy. Perhaps this is still of interest:

    The Trippers‘ record on GNP is a re-release of Ruby-Doo #5. The Hollywood based label Ruby-Doo records was owned by famous John Marascalco, who also owns the publishing rights of “Charlena” with his Robin Hood Music Co. The Trippers were a Trio including Rich Cliburn and Jerry Carter, who you may know as guitarist and bassist of the great band Smith around singer Gayle McCormick in later years. The Trippers also released on Ruby-Doo a splendid version of “keep a Knockin” (with Dorsey Burnette) and on Marascalco’s Lola Records under the name The Girl Watchers “Got My Mojo Working”, which was again released on Moonglow.


  6. Hi, I'm Eddie Delgado of the Ambertones!...Thanks for the Site!...I wrote "If I Do" & sang lead on "I can only give you Everything"..a cover from the group Them of "Gloria" fame! You've done a great job on our "History" keep up the good work! keep in touch!