“Memories of El Monte”
is a metasong released in 1963 by the Penguins featuring Cleve Duncan. It was written by Frank Zappa and Ray Collins before they were in the Mothers of Invention. The song was first released as Original Sound 27.
In 1960, Art Laboe released one of the first oldies compilations, Memories of El Monte, a collection of songs by bands that used to play at the dances Laboe organized at El Monte Legion Stadium in El Monte, California.
At some point in the next few years, Ray Collins visited Frank Zappa at his house at 314 W. G Street in Ontario, California (34.070685°N 117.653339°W). Frank told him that he and a friend had thought of writing a song entitled “Memories of El Monte.” Ray had been to the dances at El Monte Legion Stadium and had played there with tenor saxophonist Chuck Higgins. Ray sat down at Frank’s piano, played the “Earth Angel” chord changes and immediately came up with the first lyrics for “Memories of El Monte.”
Frank Zappa took the song to Art Laboe, who loved it. Laboe came up with the idea of adding a section that named doo-wop groups and having the Penguins impersonate their songs. The song functions as a de facto advertisement for the collection Memories of El Monte when it references songs on the compilation.
“Memories of El Monte” was recorded at Paul Buff’s Pal Recording Studio in Cucamonga, California in 1963. The song was copyrighted on February 20, 1963.