The El Dorados’ Jewel Jones Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

Jewel Jones, an original member of the R&B/doo wop group The El Dorados, was honored with an Lifetime Achievement Award on February 12 in Harlem, NY. 

Lifetime Achievement Award

Along with a certificate, Jones was given two original artworks, including one done by Editor-In-Chief Kirk Lang; was treated to a performance of his group’s biggest hit by a young Mississippi bluesman via iPhone’s Facetime feature; and was driven to Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater, where he performed on multiple occasions in the 1950s.

Jewel Jones in front of Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater with his Lifetime Achievement Award

“It’s like being on the stage again,” said Jones, who was also interviewed at length about his career and life after music. “Even though I’m not performing, I’m living it, in just talking about, cause of the memories of it all, the wonderful things. It’s overwhelming.

More than the Lifetime Achievement Award, Jones seemed most appreciative of his not one but two framed portraits he pulled out of a tote bag. In fact, he was fighting back tears.

Jones holding his two artworks

“Tears of joy,” he said in a follow-up phone call.

Jones added, “When you said you had something special for me, I didn’t know it was that special. I mean to take the time, just the time to draw that, that meant a lot to me, in itself. It’s not like a picture you took or something. It’s something you took time and did and to me, I feel so grateful for that alone. It was very emotional.”

Lang visited Jones along with Associate Editor Samantha Sarno and the second artwork was done by Sarno’s longtime friend, Kristyna Regan. Immediately after he was gifted the two art pieces, Jones said, “This is a blessing. I will treasure these for the rest of my days.”

Asked later if there’s room on the apartment walls, as his home is decorated with tons of pictures of Jones, his wife Edith and their family members, Jones said confidently, “I’ll find room for them.”

The El Dorados’ hit it big in 1955 with their uptempo number, “At My Front Door (Crazy Little Mama),” which allowed the group to get gigs far and wide, beyond their Chicago, Illinois home base. It wasn’t long before they were booked to play the Apollo Theater.

Jones holding his record “At My Front Door (Crazy Little Mama)” in front of Apollo Theater

“We felt we had hit the top,” said Jones. “And we played a lot of clubs, and other theaters in the Chicago area, but we always wanted to go to the Apollo Theater, and we didn’t know it was ever going to happen and somehow there was a connection made.”

Jones added, “It’s hard to explain what it feels like to have your name called and you go out and you hear this roar. It’s just a great feeling. And we loved it. We loved the crowd, the autographing, taking pictures and all that. We met some nice people.”

Jones doesn’t sing R&B/doo wop anymore. Nowadays, you’ll only find him in church belting out a tune, so it was nice to have young up-and-coming blues singer Harrell Davenport, who hails from Richland, Mississippi, do the honors of singing his big hit to him, adding to an already special day.

Jones beamed the widest smile as soon as Davenport began strumming the chords of “At My Front Door (Crazy Little Mama),” seeing the song come to life again. He also performed a song by one of Jones’ favorite singers, Ray Charles. Jones couldn’t help but join in as he held Lang’s iPhone and watched Davenport sing the opening lines of “What’d I Say, Part 1.” Jones would add in an “Oh yeah” as Davenport played on. He also hummed along to his bass runs near the end and proclaimed, “I love it. I love it.”

Davenport was happy to entertain Jones.

“As a guitarist and songwriter, I’m heavily influenced by a lot of R&B and doo wop groups, as well as blues,” he said. “So, to get the opportunity to play for a man of his stature and level means a lot to me. I was absolutely thrilled and delighted to play for him.”

The El Dorados would break up in the late 1950s when Vee-Jay Records lured lead singer Pirkle Lee Moses Jr away from his buddies. Jones and crew rebounded to form Those Four El Dorados, AKA The Tempos, with new lead singer Marvin Smith. Jones would retire from performing in the early 1960s. He held several odd jobs until finding his niche in the restaurant business. Eventually, he would pivot slightly when he became the director of The Love Kitchen, a food pantry that also had various programs to assist the community. Jones’ pastor recruited Jones to run the pantry.

“The first time we opened up, nine people came. I said, ‘That’s it?’ “ said Jones. However, Jones quickly reached out to people staying at a nearby armory and soon, hundreds of people were being fed daily. Word spread and more were assisted, often with inspirational messages as well.

Jones would serve as director for 30 years.

“We fed over 300,000 people in that 30-year period,” he said.

Jones and his wife, a former volunteer at The Love Kitchen whom he married 10 years ago, truly enjoyed’s visit, which happened to take place on an unusually warm February day.

Jewel Jones and his wife Edith in front of Apollo Theater

“It made me feel good,” he said. “And it’s just like, ‘And the band plays on.’ You know, like, I thought it was all over with, and I settled that in my mind, and was grateful for all that had happened, what I’ve received, what people told me and so on, and then, all of a sudden, now I get a wake-up call. I said, ‘Lord, is this still going on? …Thank you so much for all that you did. You really blessed my heart. Thank you. It was wonderful.”

The El Dorados – 1955