Sunday, November 25, 2007

frankie lymon

Frankie Lymon
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Frankie Lymon

Frankie Lymon performing "Goody, Goody" on Toast of the Town circa 1958.
Background information
Birth name Frank Joseph Lymon
Born September 30, 1942(1942-09-30)
Origin Harlem, New York City, New York, U.S.
Died February 27, 1968 (aged 25), Harlem, New York City, New York, USA
Genre(s) Rhythm and blues, doo-wop, rock and roll, pop
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instrument(s) Vocals
Years active 1955-1968
Label(s) Gee, Roulette
acts The Teenagers
Frank Joseph "Frankie" Lymon (September 30, 1942 � February 27, 1968) was an African-American rock and roll/Rhythm and blues singer, best known as the boy soprano lead singer of a New York City-based early rock and roll group called The Teenagers. The group included five boys, all in their early to mid teens. The original lineup of the Teenagers, an integrated group, included three African-American members, Frankie Lymon, Jimmy Merchant and Sherman Garnes, and two Puerto Rican members, Herman Santiago and Joe Negroni.

The Teenagers' first single, 1956's "Why Do Fools Fall in Love", was also their biggest. After Lymon went solo in mid-1957, both his career and those of the Teenagers fell into decline. Lymon eventually fell into heroin addiction, and died in 1968 at the age of 25.

1 Biography
1.1 Early years: joining the Teenagers
1.2 "Why Do Fools Fall in Love": fame and success
1.3 Going solo
1.4 Later years and death
2 Legal issues
3 Legacy
4 Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers discography
4.1 Singles
4.2 Notes
4.3 Album
5 Frankie Lymon solo discography
5.1 Singles
5.2 Albums
6 References
7 Further reading
8 External links

[edit] Biography

[edit] Early years: joining the Teenagers
Frankie Lymon was born in Harlem, New York to a truck driver father and a domestic mother. Lymon's father, Howard Lymon, also sang in a gospel group known as the Harlemaires; Frankie Lymon and his brothers Louis and Howie sung with the Harlemaire Juniors (a fourth Lymon brother, Timmy, was also a singer, but not with the Harlemaire Juniors). The Lymon family struggled to make ends meet, and Lymon began working as a grocery boy at age ten, augmenting his legitimate income with proceeds gained from hustling prostitutes.[1]

At the age of twelve, Lymon heard a local doo-wop group known as the Coupe De Villes at a school talent show. He befriended their lead singer, Herman Santiago, and eventually became a member of the group, now calling itself both The Ermines and The Premiers.

One day in 1955, a neighbor gave The Premiers several love letters that had been written to him by his girlfriend, with the hopes that he could give the boys inspiration to write their own songs. Merchant and Santiago adapted one of the letters into a song called "Why Do Birds Sing So Gay?" With Lymon's input, the song became "Why Do Fools Fall in Love". The Premiers, now calling themselves The Teenagers, got their first shot at fame after impressing Richard Barrett, a singer with The Valentines. Barrett in turn got the group an audition with record producer George Goldner. However, on the day of the group's audition, Santiago was sick, and Lymon led the Teenagers through "Why Do Fools Fall in Love".

[edit] "Why Do Fools Fall in Love": fame and success
Goldner signed the quintet to Gee Records, and "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" became their first single in January 1956. The single peaked at #6 on the Billboard pop singles chart, and topped the Billboard R&B singles chart for five weeks.

Five other R&B top ten singles followed over the next year-plus: "I Want You To Be My Girl", "I Promise To Remember", "Who Can Explain?", "Out in the Cold Again", and "The ABC's of Love." "I'm Not A Juvenile Delinquent" and "Baby Baby" were also popular Teenagers releases. "I Want You To Be My Girl" gave the band its second pop hit, reaching #13 on the national Billboard Hot 100 chart. "Goody Goody" was a #20 pop hit, but did not appear on the R&B chart. The Teenagers placed two other singles in the lower half of the pop chart.

With the release of "I Want You to Be My Girl", the group's second single, The Teenagers became Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers. A long-playing album, The Teenagers Featuring Frankie Lymon, was issued in December 1956.

The group's success made Frankie Lymon the first African-American teen idol. [2] In March 1956, the Teenagers began appearing with pioneering rock and roll DJ Alan Freed's rock-and-roll revues, performing alongside acts such as Little Richard, The Platters, and Bill Haley and His Comets. The group also appeared in two of Freed's early rock and roll films, Rock, Rock, Rock (1956) and Mister Rock and Roll (1957), and performed on Freed's radio and television programs. While touring with the Platters, Lymon befriended that group's sole female singer, Zola Taylor, whom he later began a romantic relationship with.

[edit] Going solo
In early 1957, Lymon and the Teenagers split apart while on a tour of Europe. During an engagement at the London Palladium, Goldner began pushing Lymon as a solo act, giving him solo spots in the show. Lymon began performing with backing from pre-recorded tapes. The group's last single, "Goody Goody" backed with "Creation of Love," initially retained the Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers credit, but were actually solo recordings (with backing by session singers). Lymon had officially departed from the group by September 1957; an in-progress studio album called Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers at the London Pallladium was instead issued as a Lymon solo release.

As a solo artist, Lymon was not nearly as successful as he was with the Teenagers. Beginning with his second solo release, "My Girl", Lymon was moved to Roulette Records. On a July 19, 1957 episode of Freed's live ABC TV show The Big Beat, Lymon began dancing with a white teenage girl while performing. His actions caused a scandal, particularly among Southern TV station owners, and The Big Beat was subsequently canceled.[3]

Lymon's slowly tapering sales fell sharply after his voice changed and he lost his signature soprano voice. Adopting a falsetto, Lymon carried on. His highest charting solo hit was a cover of Thurston Harris' "Little Bitty Pretty One", which peaked at number 58 on the Hot 100 pop chart in 1960, and which had actually been recorded in 1957. Addicted to heroin since age 15, Lymon fell further into his habit, and his performing career went into decline. According to Lymon in an interview with Ebony in 1967, he said that he was first introduced to heroin by a woman twice his age, when he was 15. In 1961, Roulette, now run by Morris Levy, ended their contract with Lymon and the singer entered a drug rehabilitation program.

After losing Lymon, the Teenagers went through a string of replacement singers, the first of whom was Lymon's immediate successor Billy Lobrano. By 1959, Howard Kenny Bobo was the lead singer of the Teenagers; a year later, Johnny Houston was on lead. The Teenagers, who had been moved by Morris Levy onto End Records, were released from their contract in 1961. The Teenagers briefly reunited with Lymon in 1965, without success.

[edit] Later years and death
Over the next four years, Lymon struggled through short-lived deals with 20th Century Fox Records and Columbia Records. Lymon began a relationship with Elizabeth Waters, who became his first wife in January 1964. Lymon's marriage to Ms. Waters was not legal in the beginning, due to her still being legally married to her first husband. However, they supposedly became married by way of common law marriage eventually. Lymon's marriage failed, and he moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1960s, where he began a romantic relationship with Zola Taylor. He appeared at the Apollo as part of a revue, adding an extended tap dance number. His final television performance was on Hollywood a Go-Go in 1965, where the then twenty-two year old singer lip-synched to the recording of his thirteen-year-old self singing "Why Do Fools Fall in Love," which was a bold and courageous step toward revitalizing his career. Taylor claimed to have married Lymon in Mexico in 1965,[4] although their relationship ended several months later because of Lymon's drug habits. Though, Lymon has been known to say that their marriage was a publicity stunt. Taylor could produce no legal documentation of their marriage.

The same year, Lymon was drafted into the United States Army, and stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia near Augusta, Georgia for training. While in the Augusta area, Lymon met and fell in love with Elmira Eagle, a schoolteacher at Hornsby Elementary in Augusta. The two were wed in June 1967, and Lymon repeatedly went AWOL to secure club dates at small Southern clubs. Dishonorably discharged from the Army, Lymon moved into his wife's home and continued to perform sporadically.

Traveling to New York in 1968, manager Sam Bray signed Lymon to his Big Apple label, and the singer returned to recording. Roulette Records expressed interest in releasing Lymon's records in conjunction with Big Apple and scheduled a recording session for February 28. Lymon, staying at his grandmother's house in Harlem where he had grown up, celebrated his good fortune by taking heroin -- he had remained clean ever since entering the Army three years prior. On February 27, 1968, Lymon was found dead from a heroin overdose. [5] He was twenty-five years old. He was buried at Saint Raymond's Cemetery in the Throggs Neck section of The Bronx in New York. "I'm Sorry" and "Seabreeze", the two sides Lymon had recorded for Big Apple before his death, were released later in the year. "Seabreeze" showcased the beauty of his mature sound along with the vocal skills and techniques that made him famous.

[edit] Legal issues
Lymon's troubles did not end with his death. After R&B singer Diana Ross returned "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" to the Top Ten in 1981, a major controversy concerning Lymon's estate ensued. Zola Taylor, Elizabeth Waters, and Elmira Eagle each approached Morris Levy, who retained possession of Lymon's copyrights and his royalties, claiming to be Lymon's rightful widow - Lymon had neglected to divorce both Taylor and Waters. The complex issue resulted in lawsuits and counter-lawsuits, and in 1986, the first of several court cases concerning the ownership of Lymon's estate began.

Trying to determine who was indeed the lawful Mrs. Frankie Lymon was complicated by more issues. Waters was already married when she married Lymon; she had separated from her first husband, but their divorce was finalized in 1965, after she had married Lymon.[6] Taylor claimed to have married Lymon in Mexico in 1965, but could produce no acceptable evidence of their union.[7] Lymon's marriage to Eagle, on the other hand, was properly documented as having taken place at the Beulah Grove Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia in 1967; however, the singer was still apparently twice-married and never divorced when he married Eagle. The first decision was made in Waters' favor; Eagle appealed, and in 1990, the New York State Supreme Court reversed the original decision and awarded Eagle Lymon's estate.[8]

However, the details of the case brought about another issue: whether Morris Levy was deserving of the songwriting co-credit on "Why Do Fools Fall in Love". Although early vinyl single releases of "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" credit Frankie Lymon, Herman Santiago, and Jimmy Merchant as co-writers of the song, later releases and cover versions were attributed to Lymon and George Goldner. When Goldner sold his music companies to Morris Levy in 1959, Levy's name began appearing as co-writer of "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" in place of Goldner's. Lymon was never paid his songwriters' royalties during his lifetime; one result of Elmira Eagle's legal victory was that Lymon's estate would finally begin receiving monetary compensation from his hit song's success. In 1987, Herman Santiago and Jimmy Merchant, both then poor, sued Morris Levy for their songwriters' credits.

In December 1992, the United States federal courts ruled that Santiago and Merchant were co-authors of "Why Do Fools Fall in Love". However, in 1996 the ruling was reversed by the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit on the basis of the statute of limitations: copyright cases must be brought before a court within three years of the alleged civil violation, and Merchant and Santiago's lawsuit was not filed until 30 years later. Authorship of "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" currently remains in the names of Frankie Lymon and Morris Levy.[9]

[edit] Legacy
Although their period of success was brief, Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers' string of hits were highly influential on the rock and R&B performers who followed them. Lymon's high-voiced sound is said to be a direct predecessor of the girl group sound, and the list of performers who name him as an influence include Ronnie Spector, The Chantels, Diana Ross, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, and Len Barry, among others.[10][11] [2] The performers most inspired by and derivative of Lymon and the Teenagers' style are The Jackson 5 and its lead singer and future superstar Michael Jackson. Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, Jr. based much of the Jackson 5's sound on Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers' recordings, [2] and the Teenagers are believed to be the original model for many of the other Motown groups he cultivated.[12]

Lymon's music and story were re-introduced to modern audiences with Why Do Fools Fall in Love, a 1998 biographical film directed by Gregory Nava, also the director of the Selena biopic. Why Do Fools Fall in Love tells a comedic, fictionalized version of Lymon's story from the points of view of his three wives as they battle in court for the rights to his estate. The film stars Larenz Tate as Frankie Lymon, Halle Berry as Zola Taylor, Vivica A. Fox as Elizabeth Waters, and Lela Rochon as Elmira Eagle. Why Do Fools Fall in Love was not a commercial success: it met with mixed reviews,[13] the film grossed a total of $12,461,773 during its original theatrical run.[14]

Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, and into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2000.

Ronnie Spector does not want to talk about Phil Spector and the Ronettes. But who can forget how Phil Spector's "wall of sound" and the Ronettes' smash hits such as "Be My Baby," "Walking in the Rain," "Do I Love You," and "I Can Hear Music" helped to mold the girl-group sounds of the 1960s?

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes in March of this year.

It's been 33 years since Ronnie and Phil Spector divorced and the lead singer of the Ronettes began her solo career, the highlight of which was a Grammy nomination for her duet with Eddie Money on "Take Me Home Tonight" in 1986.

She received critical acclaim, though, for last year's overseas release, "The Last of the Rock Stars," which will soon be issued with a new bonus track in the United States.

"I'm so proud of it," she said of her new CD. "For the first time, I must say, I produced some of the songs. I wrote some of the songs. I had to do it. It's such a great feeling, and it's about my whole life."

Ronnie Spector will perform with her band at the Stanhope House in Stanhope on Friday, a day after Thanksgiving.

"I love rock 'n' roll, and I love the stage and entertaining so much. Nothing can stop me. I feel like a train fuming past," she said.

The Spanish Harlem-born singer has a lot for which to be thankful. For the past 25 years, she has been married to her manager, Jonathan Greenfield. The couple has two sons and three additional children adopted from her previous marriage to Phil Spector. They enjoy a comfortable life in Connecticut.

"It's so amazing that everybody is so in my corner and rooting for me. I feel so good about that," she said, referring to guests such as Keith Richards and Patti Smith, who appear on her new CD.

Spector's comeback began in the 1970s when she toured as the opening act for Bruce Springsteen. Over the past three decades, a lot of '60s and '70s rock stars, including John Lennon, Brian Wilson, Alice Cooper and Joey Ramone, re-entered her life.

"I don't go to see a lot of shows now, because I will sit in my seat and feel like I've got to get up there. It's that kind of urge that, I guess, a drug addict would have. That's how I feel about the stage. I have to have it. If I don't have it, life's not too good for me, because being on stage is what I love," she said.

To hear Spector speak about her youth in Spanish Harlem and her memories of Frankie Lymon, one can sense her love for voices and lyrics. But one also hears a need for approval from others to give her a vote of confidence and now to renew her self-esteem. It's fitting because the raw energy, simplicity and sincerity of her voice have always been a big part of her fans' understanding of her identity.

"I like Frankie Lymon, Frankie Valli. I'm just a person who loves voices and lyrics. I'm a lyric person. I just go crazy," she said.

"I love being on that stage and seeing people smile and remembering the old songs and then I throw in a couple of the new songs. I think, 'Wow, they love me. They like me. They still love me.' It's one of those things I go through up there. I'm so happy to be playing New Jersey."

The Town Hall, Times Square's landmark concert venue, is pleased to announce its own 2008 season lineup. Headliners include The Doo Wop & Rock N' Roll Reunion, Hugh Masekela, Judy Collins, The Nuyorican Poets Café Third Millennium Celebration and the return of our smash hit series Broadway By The Year. The 2008 season is available as a subscription series, or individually, with subscriptions available now directly from The Town Hall.

All tickets for The Town Hall shows are available through TicketMaster, 212-307-4100, or, or by visiting the Town Hall Box Office between noon and 6 PM (except Sundays) at 123 West 43rd Street, 212-840-2824 or visit

Friday, February 1 at 8pm―Doo Wop & Rock N' Roll Reunion

As seen on the recent PBS Special featuring: The Drifters � featuring Charlie Thomas; Kenny Vance and The Planotones; Frankie Lymon's Legendary Teenagers; Barbara Harris of The Toys; Larry Chance of The Earls. Shake, rattle and roll when The Town Hall presents Richard Nader's Doo Wop Concert. Step back in time and stroll down memory lane for a night of solid gold hits. Tickets: $40 & $35.

Friday, February 29 at 8pm � Hugh Masekala's Chissa All Stars

South African-born trumpeter and flugelhornist Masekala is one of Africa's most beloved performers, ingeniously fusing his own vibrant post-bop style with R&B, pop and African rhythms. For this very special tour, Hugh will supplement his normal group with the renowned South African classical-Afro pop diva Sibongile Khumato, young kwaito singer Corlea, "urban-Zulu" singer Busi Mholongo, Afro-jazz performer and producer Khaya Mahlangu, as well as others from the label's impressive roster, to comprise his fiery "Chissa All Stars" ensemble. Tickets: $40 & $35.

Monday, March 3 at 8pm � Broadway By The Year - Broadway Musicals of 1947

Created, written and hosted for The Town Hall by Scott Siegel, The Broadway By The Year series takes the audience on a musical travelogue through the best of the Great White Way for the year 1947, featuring the hottest talents in Broadway and cabaret. This program features music from Street Scene, Finian's Rainbow, Brigadoon, High Button Shoes, Allegro, and more! Musical Direction is by Ross Patterson. Single tickets available beginning January 3.

Friday, March 7 at 8pm― Tamango's Urban Tap

Bringing together a global mix of dancers, musicians and artists, Tamango's Urban Tap crosses and blends the cultures and rhythms of jazz, tap, hip hop, capoeira, stilt, world, free-style and more. Tamango returns to the Town Hall stage with his traveling family of performers and video artist/VJ Jean de Boysson. Tickets: $45 & $40.

Thursday, March 20 at 8pm― East Village Opera Company

Back by Popular Demand! No one puts a fresher, bolder contemporary spin on opera's greatest hits than the East Village Opera Company. The powerhouse rock band that transforms classic opera arias into songs evoking everything from the golden age of rock to hip-hop returns to the Hall. East Village Opera Company, an outfit comprised of two vocalists, a string section and a rock band, has released two albums, La Donna and Decca/Universal's The East Village Opera Company. Don't miss the classics revived and electrified! Tickets: $40 & $35.

Monday, April 7 at 8pm � Broadway By The Year - Broadway Musicals of 1954

Created, written and hosted for The Town Hall by Scott Siegel, The Broadway By The Year series takes the audience on a musical travelogue through the best of the Great White Way for the year 1954, featuring the hottest talents in Broadway and cabaret. This program will include music from The Golden Apple, The Pajama Game, The Boy Friend, Peter Pan, Fanny, House of Flowers, and more! Musical Direction is by Ross Patterson. Single tickets available January 3.

Sunday, April 13 at 4pm � Klezmatics with Special Guest Joshua Nelson: Brothers Moses, Smote The Water

The Klezmatics, known for their unique blend of melodic mysticism and improvisational activism, are once again turning their music inside out, exposing the complexity of Jewish identity. Brother Moses Smote the Water teams the Klezmatics with African American Jewish gospel Joshua Nelson. This vibrant and rousing live performance alternates between age-old Hebrew Passover songs, Nelson's own brand of kosher gospel, and traditional Yiddish Klezmatics anthems. Tickets: $45 & $40.

Saturday, May 3 at 8pm � The Nuyorican Poets Café' Third Millennium Celebration ALOUD AND ALIVE AT 35

A wild and joyous evening with surprise guests and more than a dozen poets including Quincy Troupe, Ishmael Reed, Edwin Torres, La Bruja and the infectious music of Yerba Buena. Started in 1973 in Loisaida (The East Village), Miguel Algarin and Richard August began hosting regular gatherings of young outcast poets of color in their apartment. Soon that space moved to an old bar on East 6th Street and The Nuyorican Poets Café was born. Allen Ginsburg called the Café "the most integrated place on the planet." Several generations of novelists, poets, playwrights, musicians and artists have grown up within the walls of their open room. Come hear their powerful voices, dance to their music, and celebrate the thirty-fifth anniversary of a world-renowned literary movement. Tickets: $40 & $35.

Friday, May 9 at 8pm― Miles From India: Celebrating the works of Miles Davis

The first concert from musicians of the groundbreaking title album to be released in February. Five years in the making, it will feature leading jazz musicians and alumni of Miles Davis bands through his long and illustrious career, as well as some of the finest Indian musicians on the scene today. Tickets: $45 & $40.

Monday, May 12 at 8pm � Broadway By The Year - Broadway Musicals of 1965

Created, written and hosted for The Town Hall by Scott Siegel, The Broadway By The Year series continues on a musical travelogue through the best of the Great White Way for the year 1965, featuring the hottest talents in Broadway and cabaret. This program will include music from Do I Hear a Waltz?, Flora, the Red Menace, The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Skyscraper, Man of La Mancha, and more! Musical Direction is by Ross Patterson. Single tickets available January 3.

Friday, May 16 at 8pm � Judy Collins in Concert with Amy Speace Opening

The definition of a living legend, for nearly 45 illustrious years, her dulcet tones have graced our ears, and her poetic lyrics have galvanized a generation. She has released more than 49 albums, has had numerous Top 10 hits, Grammy nominations and gold and platinum selling albums. Noted for her rendition of Both Sides Now on her classic 1967 album, Wildflowers. Both Sides Now has since been entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Opening for Ms. Collins is engaging poet and storyteller Amy Speace. Speace draws from and overlaps the traditions of country, folk, rock and pop, while weaving through a decidedly American landscape. One of the most exciting and in-demand new artists to emerge from the downtown NYC acoustic scene. Tickets: $40 & $35.

Monday, June 16 at 8pm � Broadway By The Year - Broadway Musicals of 1979

Created, written and hosted for The Town Hall by Scott Siegel, The Broadway By The Year series continues on a musical travelogue through the best of the Great White Way for the year 1979, featuring the hottest talents in Broadway and cabaret. This program will include music from Sarava, They're Playing Our Song, Sweeney Todd, I Remember Mama, Evita, and more!


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