While on Facebook recently, I came across a post by an old classmate who said that Earl “Speedo” Carroll had passed away. Now to a lot of people that name doesn’t mean anything, but to a generation that listened to doo-wop he was the lead singer for The Cadillacs. And to those kids that knew him from the elementary school, P.S. 87, he was the kind janitor who often sang while he worked and gave them candy. I was fortunate to have been one of those kids.
I went to that school where he was a custodian from 1982-2005 and although I have very few clear memories of Earl, what I do remember is the big warm smile every time he saw you, the little game of picking which hand held the candy- but he’ll give it to you even if you picked wrong and, yes, even the moments where you’d catch him crooning in the halls.
I don’t think many of us knew what kind of success Earl had achieved at that point and I don’t remember when I fully understood who he was. But it always brought a smile to my face when I saw him. Even when I’d see a PBS special on doo-wop, I sometimes linger on there to see if The Cadillacs will be performing.
Since I lived just a block away from the school, I still saw him around and he was even my parents’ customer when they had their business. Always the same Earl I knew over the 6 years I was at the school- still giving me candy too. He was a genuinely good person and he will be missed.
For the New York Times article, click.
Their hit “Speedo” was inspired by Earl’s nickname…
And his/our performance of “That’s What Friends Are For” at my graduation ceremony in 1994…