Asians in American Pop Music History: The Rocky Fellers

If you would guess the first Asian or Asian American music act to make the Billboard Hot 100, you might think of Jay Sean, Bruno Mars, or the Far East Movement, but the earliest I know about is The Rocky Fellers, whose hit Killer Joe reached 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963.  The Rocky Fellers were made up of four brothers, Tony, Junior, Eddie, and Albert Maligmat, and their father, Doroteo.  I learned about the Rocky Fellers from Kris Aquino while watching a game show on The Filipino Channel (probably the only thing I will ever learn from Kris Aquino).

The Rocky Fellers were discovered by Stanley Kahn.  Killer Joe is similar to Love is Strange by Mickey and Sylvia but no lawsuit was filed.  A then unknown Neil Diamond created a Christmas novelty song for them called Santa, Santa.  The Rocky Fellers faded away in the midst of the British Invasion.   Albert and Eddie are living in Hawaii and perform at the Hilton Hawaiian VillageAntonio died in 2007.

Below is video performance of them covering the song Little Darling on the Dinah Shore Chevy show.  As something you might expect from those times, Dinah Shore describes their version was described as “primitive” and “exotic.”

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Author: Jeff

Jeff lives in Silicon Valley, and attempts to juggle marriage, fatherhood, computer systems research, running, and writing.