‘I can still hear your music’ is a phrase that best describes the connection that people have with good music as regards their memory recall. Human nature is a slave to good music, albeit resistance to it as a master can be pursued, it can never be achieved (O’Donell 1). Frankie Lymon is one such artist who at a very tender age sang good music that connected with his entire fans. His eventual passing on has left behind clear tunes in their minds as though his presence still subsists among them.
Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers
Frank Joseph ‘Frankie’ Lymon was born on the 30th of September1942 in Harlem New York City of the United States of America. Frankie was of an African- American descent with a reputation of being the boy soprano lead singer of a group called ‘The teenagers’ (Solent communications 2).
The teenagers sang Rock and Roll and R and B tunes. The Teenagers’ originally comprised of three members who were African- American (Frankie Lymon, Jimmy Merchant and Sherman Games) with two additional members of Puerto Rican Descent (Herman Santiago and Joe Negroni).
Frankie Lymon and the teenagers took a very short time before wooing their fans with charm (Pan- African News Wire 4). After being a group for not less than two years, they were already recognized as one of the pioneer success cases of rock and roll music. Rogers, describes Frankie Lymon as the ‘trendsetters in the early days of rock and roll’ (1) a massive complement in the realm of music given to them would be that many young boys struggled to copy and try out their style of a boys group just so that they could gain public attention.
Pegue (1) articulated that any kid-group that posses the qualities of personality and exposure as compliments to great sound and arrangement would most definitely hit the jackpot as far as guaranteed success is concerned. There is no doubt that the Frankie Lymon and the teenagers possessed these qualities. Their triumph in music sensation as a boys group was consummate.
Their debut single in 1959 ‘Why do fools fall in love’ turned out top be their biggest hit due to a smatter strategy; using the services of Dj Allan Freed, whose popularity aide his introduction of Frankie and the teenagers to International audiences without much kick.
Further achievement was experienced when they eventually secured corporate network deals and business connection thanks to GEE and RAMA records owned by George. As if that was not enough, the group did a hit-movie called “Rock Rock Rock”, which consequently marketed their style globally.
Frankie’s father, Howard Lymon, was part of a renowned gospel music group called the Harlemaires. Thanks to his father, Frankie, together with his brothers; Louis and Howie sang with the Harlemaires. Frankie was nurtured in to becoming a musician at an early age. Later on, in 1955, a New York corner quartet group called Emines was coming through.
Frankie, on developing interest in Music joined the group which changed names to Coupe de Villes, thanks to their Puerto Rico friends. Latter in the year, they became the Premires, recording their debut single ‘Why do fools fall in love’ which was released in 1956 under the new name; Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers (Schwalboski 1).
Frankie Lymon’s solo music career
According to Schwalboski, Lymon left the group in 1956 to pursue a solo career (1). In his solo performances, Lymon was backed by prerecorded tapes. On other hand, the teenagers replaced Lymon without ever achieving success once more. Lymon’s premier solo release was called “My girl” and was not a success. According to Richard, Lymon tried out dancing with a white teenage lady in his performance, a venture which turned out to be a mega scandal that caused a set back in Lymon’s career (1).
On attaining adulthood, Lymon’s voice changed and made him loose his signature soprano voice, that saw his sales fall in to slow tapers. Either way, Lymon decided to adopt a falsetto which was very effective; it saw his solo hit “Little Bitty Pretty one” which eventually picked number 58 on the R and B charts in 1960 (Warmer 1).
Unfortunately, Lymon’s comeback was short lived due to the ugly fact that he got involved in to drugs. Apparently he had been addicted to heroin from the time he was at the age of 16. He got sunk more and more in to this habit that eventually saw the termination of his music career in 1961 wit Roulette records (run by Morris Levy) bringing an end to his contract. He consequently entered in to rehabilitation (Warner 1). However, in 1965, Lymon and the teenagers rejoined briefly with no results in recordings.
Lymon was drafted in 1966 in to the US army and latter on married Emira Eagle in 1967. Surprisingly he had married Zolar Tailor and Elizabeth Waters in 1959 and 1964 respectively without divorcing either of them. He was therefore reputed a polygamist (Schwalboski 1).
Lymon died on February 27th in 1968 from a heroin overdose while awaiting a recording session in the following day. Nevertheless, his music is still sweet to the ear regardless of his dramatic departure from both the realm of music and life. He is regarded as one of the legends of Rock and Roll. Pegue expresses gratitude to his mom for allowing him to get a radio that would have him listen to Frankie Lymon (1).
O’Donell Laurence. Music and The Brain. 8th Oct. 2010.
Pan- African News Wire. Frankie Lymon: A musical biography. 26th May 2007.
Pegue Earl Richard. The best music of your life. 8th Oct. 2010.
Schwalboski M. Ann. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. 8th Oct. 2010.
Solent communications. Frankie Lymon. 8th Oct. 2010.
Warner Jay. Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers (Inducted in 2000). 8th Oct. 2010