Junkyard Angels

Junkyard Angels formed in the Jungle Ridge neighborhood of Queens in mid-1969.  Three of the members had been in high school garage band Goldfish Envy and the other two members most recently had been performing as Rage Against the Mâché (a street theater act in which they dressed as oversized marionettes, with guitars).  Soon the quintet (singer Angel Colón, guitarists Angel de León and Angel Coronado, bassist and primary songwriter Angel Orellana, and drummer Angel Cortés) took the name Junkyard Angels and began gigging original material across New York City.   (There was some speculation at the time that it was statistically improbable that all five members of the band actually shared the same first name, but no one ever really got to the bottom of it.)

The band's sound was quite unique.  They eschewed the psychedelia and blues rock that had become prevalent, preferring the sunny pop songs of the late '50s and early '60s--to which they added their own twist by turning up the volume on their amplifiers to 9 (because it was one louder than 8, but not quite as loud as 10 because that would be crazy), by playing as fast as they were capable (which really wasn't that fast, but still faster than most), and by singing with a snarl (if Elvis could do it, they figured so could they).  The result was something the band referred to--likely not pejoratively, but no one is certain--as "junk" music.  (In 1974, a critic reviewing their third and final album Rail to Reykjavík mistyped "junk" as "punk" in the final pre-print copy, and the term stuck.)

The band received significant critical buzz in 1970 and 1971 (even scoring a last-minute slot at the 1971 PLUS Fest in California when singer Pablo Fanque had to withdraw due to a bizarre kite flying accident).  However, their jackhammer sound never really appealed to radio listeners and album buyers, who had begun preferring something called "soft rock" (which the Angels definitely did not play).  The band broke up in late 1974 following dismal sales of Reykjavík and dwindling bookings. 

Colón and Cortés started a record label (Conquistador) specializing in jazz fusion.  Coronado and de León dabbled in proto-disco, but they had trouble turning the beat around.  Orellana took up scoring for television, writing incidental music for hit shows such as "Marcus Welby, M.D.," "Hawaii Five-O" and "CHiPs."

In April 1976, another band out of Queens put out its debut record.  (Rumor has it that Dee Dee Ramone was one of the few people in America who owned all three Junkyard Angels records.)