The Ambertones


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 Ambertones were part of Los Angeles’ fabled East Side scene along with dozens of legendary bands like Thee Midniters, the Premiers, the Romancers and Cannibal and the Head Hunters. All these groupos could play in several styles, from garage to straight soul to r&b shouters and ballads.

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

They began releasing records in 1963, with “Charlena” / “Bandido” on the GNP/Crescendo label. Next came two 45s on the Dottie label. I have never heard the first, “Chocolate Covered Ants” / “One Summer Night”.

Their second Dottie 45 is a ballad, “I Need Someone” backed with an excellent garage original “If I Do”, written by Eddie Delgado. The sound of the organ, vocals and guitar solo make “If I Do” my personal favorite of their records.

Originally released on a dark blue Dottie label in October of ’65, it was reissued with a pale blue label, pictured here, in 1969 or later, probably because of interest in the ballad, “I Need Someone”.

Their next two releases were on Rayjack. “Clap Your Hands” is a great party record, and “Cruise” is a riff on Thee Midniter’s “Whittier Blvd”. This 45 was also issued on the Newman label, pictured here, in 1966. Both of these were written by Leonard Mamola, who also produced all their records except their first.

“I Can Only Give You Everything” is another of their garage recordings, it too was issued on a second label, Treasure Chest.

In 1967 they signed with White Whale for two 45s in a soul style, giving them probably the best nationwide exposure of their career. “Ninety-Nine and a Half” is a fine cover of the Wilson Pickett hit, with a Sam and Dave song on the flip, “You Don’t Know Like I Know”.


top center: Henry Hernandez
middle row, l-r: Jimmy Alvarez, Eddie Delgado, Ray Arriola, and Mike Sandoval
bottom row l-r: Charlie Muñoz and Danny Medina
 

 

 

 

Source: Photos from collection of Victor B. and from Mark Guerrero’s excellent site markguerrero.net.

Leader of Mark & the Escorts of the classic “Get Your Baby,” Mr. Guerrero has also written extensively about Los Angeles music, including articles on the Romancers, The Premiers and the Blendells. I highly recommend setting aside a few hours to look through his site.

Thanks to Danny Medina for correcting the IDs on the photos.

Ambertones 45 releases:

Charlena / Bandido (GNP Crescendo 329) – 1963
Chocolate Covered Ants / One Summer Night (Dottie 1129) – 1965
I Need Someone / If I Do (Dottie 1130) – October, 1965, repressed on pale blue label in 1969.
Clap Your Hand / Cruise (Rayjack 1001) – December 1965
Clap Your Hand / Cruise (Newman 601) – 1966
I Can Only Give You Everything / I Only Have Eyes for You (Rayjack 1002) – 1966
I Can Only Give You Everything / I Only Have Eyes for You (Treasure Chest 001) – 1966
Ninety-Nine and a Half / You Don’t Know Like I Know (White Whale 242) 1967
A Million Tears / Little Bit Of Lovin’ (White Whale 302) 1969


from left: Danny Medina, Mike Sandoval, Eddie Delgado, Henry Hernandez and Ruben Alvarez

55 thoughts on “The Ambertones”

  1. The piano and organ player in the photos are of Henry Sarnoff, brother of Ron Figeroa of Thee Midniters. Henry joined the Ambertones in 1966. He was a graduate of Salesian High School and was with the Ambertones until 1968 at which point he was called to active duty in the U.S. Navy for two years.

  2. My boyfriend is one of James Alvarez’s son. Would love an oppertunity to talk to you. Please email me so we can talk.

  3. boy do these pics bring back memories, I followed the Ambertones on the dance circuit, back in the 60’s, these were great bands! every week it was one band or another, The Ambertones, Thee Enchantments, Thee Midniters, The Blue Satins, the Emeralds, I could go on and on, but all of these bands were great in their own rights, and what would we have done without them? they carried us through our high school years, and into our adult years, it’s great to be able to say that we knew them when! thanks guys……… for the memories!

  4. Mike Sandoval of Thee Ambertones is living in Montebello CA.
    He still jams once in a while with fellow musicians around the neighborhood.
    He has been trying to get in touch with his old friends from The Ambertones but
    hasn’t succeeded. if anyone has any info regarding any of the band members send
    me an e-mail.

    Also…

    If you would like some more pictures for your site, e-mail me.
    CpuAnalyst@aol.com

  5. whats up? this is ryan james alvarez.my father jim nunez alvarez.the drumer for the ambertones.its nice to see this site.my dad would of love it.rest in peace.i love you dad…..im digging up some pic of the ambertones.they will be posted soon.

  6. Aloha Ryan, Your Dad was my best friend & drummer ever, we e-mailed each other often! please keep in touch!( Ed Delgado “Garfield ’64’)

  7. Thank’s for remembering Christine! I was very proud of us, I was the bassist(I miss those day’s) Sincerely Eddie!

  8. The Ambertones are doing a special reunion show on Feb. 21, 2009 at the Elks Lodge in Van Nuys, CA!

    They’re playing with MARK & THE ESCORTS! First show for either band in 40 years!!

  9. I am writing to acknowledge Ruben Alvarez (ruben is shown in the last photo posted above. He is the Ambertone shown on the far right). I believe Ruben became the drummer for the ambertones in the late 60’s. I was saddened to hear of his passing a few years back.. He was a good high school (Santa Fe) bubby. God bless you ruben
    GCV

      1. hi reuben your dad was my cousin he was always so kind to me…my sister and i always followed the band to most of the performances..she is gone also…his mom was my dads sister..

  10. SAW EDDIE AT KAHALE”S in maui we want to see you guys when you play here in calif… we live in montebello as well…. went to highschool with eddie delgado jr. at bishop amat……..

  11. My apologizies everyone, I put the wrong phone number down for my Dad. Dan Medina can be reached at the following number: 310.532.0527.

    Mahaloz,

    Danny

  12. I wish I could be there to see this, the original Ambertones and Mark & the Escorts reuniting for one show at the Elks Lodge in Van Nuys. Plus eleven other bands and five DJs, all for only $15! Ages 18 and over show!

    All the info here

  13. Hi Danny Surprise!! It’s Leonard Mamola I heard the Ambertones where doing a few shows and you guys have been talking with Leonard Jr. “cool” We had alot of great times and memories…I Remember the Union Halls and Ike and Tina?? hahah hope everything is good for you God Bless All Leonard

  14. My thanks to the keepers of this site for helping me get together with most of my buds from the good ole days.

  15. Hey Leonard,
    Good to hear from you. I’am currently Mayor Pro-Tem (city council) for the City of Gardena, California………still playing and still the leader of the Ambertones whenever we do Oldies Reunions and Doo-Wop Concerts. Home #310-532-0527….Cell 310-339-9919.

    Thanks,
    Danny Medina

  16. Regarding the first formal picture of the Ambertones, the drummer was Jimmy Alvarez, the sax player was Tony Cardenas and the singer (left) next to me in front was Frank Vasquez (Charlie Munoz joined the band later).
    The second blk/wht picture, the unidentified person was our sax player Ray Arriola who played lead sax in “Huggies Bunnies” (written for then DJ Dick Hugg aka “Huggy Boy”)…..the last time the band played with the original members: Eddie Delgado-Bass, Henry Hernandez-Lead Guitar, Mike Sandoval-Rythem Guitar, Ray Arriola-Sax and Danny Medina-keyboards (different drummer, different singer for Charlie Munoz)was Sept. of 2009. I’am still performing w/other musicians as the Ambertones at Reunions, Weddings, parties …etc.
    For more info, give me a call….310-532-0527.

    Thanks,
    Dan (Danny) Medina

  17. Hi Big Danny:
    Isn’t our granddaughter adorable? Oh, that is right you haven’t seen the second one yet, well her name is Milani Rose(3)and she looks so much like me and our son. Anyway you are being the best Grandpa just like when you were a dad to Danny we still love you. Oh, by the way…our son got remarried to a wonderful girl her name is AMBER!

    Joyce

  18. Gentlemen! Chas Kit suggests that vocalist Frank Vasquez was also known as Frank Olvera. I own a 45er by Frankie Olvera with “Huggie’s Bunnies” and “Something Like Mr. C” on Lola 104. Is this the Ambertones’ version of “Huggie’s Bunnies” Mr. Medina is talking about? I could not find the song in the discography on this site. Can anyone confirm the identitiy of both Frankies?

    Here’s a scan of Lola 104:
    http://www.musikalischerzirkel.de/images/lola/lola_104_a_orange.jpg

    Greetings Andi

  19. Thank you for the uplifting message. But communication has always been the issue.Calls and e-mails have gone unanswered for years.

  20. I was just looking through the web an found the ambertones I was the lead singer back then , like everyone said those were the good old days. I still contact henry , mike , danny from time to time. I’am now singing lead with cannibal and the headhunters band lead by robert zapata , been with the group for about 10 years and having nothing but fun traveling. Were the opening band for acts like denny lain joie mullen, dennis stofono, al wilson etc.You were asking about info your best bet would to call henry hernandez 1-626-233-5863 he could get you what you need. happy new year and god bless

  21. HEY EDDIE, I DONT THINK YOU MIGHT REMEMBER ME BUT I USED TO GO TO YOUR HOUSE NEXT TO THE CHINO STORE. THEY USED OT CALL ME CLARK KENT
    BEEN TRYING TO GET A HOLD OF DANNY
    IF THIS IS YOU, CALL ME AT 559-241-4039
    THANKS

  22. Hello I am Frank Vasquez (Frankie Olvera) I am very surprised to see this site. Im saddened about hearing about Jimmy RIP. If any of my friends are still out there from the old Amebertone days please contact me for old times sake.
    Love always to all my old band members those where my happiest days.
    Frankie

  23. Hello, Frankie Vasquez and Olvera are the same and he’s my dad. He lives in Oregon and would love to hear from you all. Cell: 971-208-0736 All growing up I would here abbout these bands he was in, this is so cool.

  24. Hey my brother, been looking for this music how can I get a copy of I need someone theez bands from E LA were bad pure Chicano Soul.
    If any of theez still perform let me know like to go to their events. Joey Morales Dinuba California

  25. Hi Danny! Remember me? Still in Montebello. Happy to see the Ambertones are still keeping in touch. I am grateful for this web page since it can be shared by Jimmy’s sons, Ryan & Steven and other Amertone families and friends. Congratulations on your career choice – I’m not surprised at all, it’s perfect for you and the City of Gardena is lucky to have you in their corner.

  26. Hello, I am Mike Sandoval’s daughter and I am looking for the 45 “Chocolate Covered Ant’s”. We had one but it was lost in the mix some place.

  27. Hi my name is Albert Tapia iam grad. of Salesian H.S class of 1966 had never hear the Abertones play till they played at the Salesian Rock & Roll show . Boy O boy they blew me away. After that it was the Big Union Hall and any place they were performing .They were right there with the Midnithers as the best East LAbands. it was great to find this Web it brings back alot of great memories.

  28. Henry Hernandez introduced my parents back in the early 1970’s. My dad is Bob Martin, drummer for the D’mystics at that time. He’s been wanting to touch base and see how Henry and the guys are doing…

    1. Hi Amber, my name is Henry and I did play in the D Mystics with Bob, I’d love talking to Him. Please let me know how or where to contact him.

      1. Hi, Henry! How awesome! My dad will be so happy! I don’t know if he’s comfortable with me posting his phone number on here… if you want to shoot me en email with your number, I can pass it onto him. My email is AmberM88@aol.com.

        Can’t wait to tell him!

        Thanks,
        Amber

  29. Hello, this is Mike Sandoval’s daughter, Elaine, and I was wondering if any of the original band members are interested in doing a live radio broadcast. I recently went back to school ( after raising my kids) and I am a Broadcast major at Valley College. There is no fee for your time, but a great appreciation for your time from students. The professor is Jason Beaton and was a DJ from KRLA and a few other well known stations. I f anyone is interested please feel free to email me at evcrts@yahoo.com or text (323) 407-3876. Thank you

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