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Smokey Joe’s Café by The Robins

The Robins Smokey Joe's Cafe


A doo wop and R&B classic is “Smokey Joe’s Café” by The Robins. The writing duo of Leiber and Stoller (that is, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller) were a big part of this first era of rock and roll. Their song “Smokey Joe’s Café” was about a real café called “Smokey Joe’s,” which was right next to an oil well at Beverly Blvd. & La Cienega in L.A. Oil wells back then were common but it was somewhat  unusual to have a restaurant right next one. The record, sung by The Robins,  came out in 1955 first on Spark Records, which was Leiber and Stoller’s label. The song was popular enough that Atlantic Records offered Leiber and Stoller an independent production contract to produce The Robins for the Atlantic label. The Robins were one of the R&B vocal groups (and early doo wop group) that had been performing for many years (i.e., starting in the late 1940s). At one point, they were Bobby Nunn, “Ty” Terrell Leonard, Billy and Roy Richard, Grady Chapman, and Carl Gardner. But only two members of the group —Carl Gardner and Bobby Nunn—decided to make the move from Los Angeles to New York. Once in New York, they added more singers, and, with numerous personnel changes, their new group became The Coasters And the rest is history… There was also the musical revue called Smokey Joe’s Café, which featured this song and 38 others by Leiber and Stoller.

Here are the lyrics to “Smokey Joe’s Cafe”:

Just sittin diggin’all the scenes at Smokey Joes’s Café
A chick came walkin’ through the door
That I had never seen before
At least I never saw her down at Smokey Joe’s Café
And I started shakin’ when she sat right down next to me

Her knees were almost touching mine at Smokey Joe’s Café
A chill was running down my spine at Smokey Joe’s Café
I could smell her sweet perfume
She smiled at me my heart went boom
Then everybody in the room at Smokey Joe’s Café
Said ‘Man be careful, that chick belongs to Smokey Joe’

From behind the counter I saw a man
A chef’s hat on his head and a knife in his hand
He grabbed me by the collar and began to shout
‘You better eat up all your beans, boy and clear right on out. ‘

I know I’ll never eat again at Smokey Joe’s Café
And so we’ll never meet again at Smokey Joes’s Café
I’d rather eat my chili beans
At Jim’s or Jack’s or John’s or Gene’s
Then take my chances eating down at Smokey Joe’s Café
Why risk my life when that Smokey Joe’s a crazy fool

Waah-aah, at Smokey Joe’s Café
Waah-aah, at Smokey Joe’s Café
Waah-aah, at Smokey Joe’s Café”

For another song by The Robins: “Riot in Cell Block No 9.”

For More Golden Oldies Music

The Daily Doo Wop Rec Room has daily featured doo wop, rock and roll, R&B, or rockabilly songs that were hits during the first era of rock and roll (that is, from about 1952 until the British invasion in 1964). After a song is featured, it then goes into the juke box. You are welcome to listen to any of the 40+ selections there. Every weekend, there is a Golden Oldies Juke Box Saturday Night, and the juke box is full of song requests from the 1950s and 1960s.

Please click here for the Daily Doo Wop YouTube channel, to which you can subscribe. Thank you for stopping by The Daily Doo Wop. Hope you enjoyed “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” by The Robins.


  1. […] For another song by The Robins: “Smokey Joe’s Café.” […]

  2. […] For another song by The Robins: “Smokey Joe’s Café.” […]

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