Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on "Space Guitar" by Johnny "Guitar" Watson. As always, I've created a Mixcloud streaming playlist with full versions of all the songs in the episode. There are no books on the Teenagers, as far as I know, so as I so often do when talking about vocal groups I relied heavily on Marv Goldberg's website. This compilation contains every recording by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, together or separately, as well as recordings by Lewis Lymon and the Teenchords, a group led by Lymon's brother. The story of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers is, like so many of the stories we're dealing with in this series, a story of heartbreak and early death, a story of young people of colour having their work become massively successful and making no money off it because of wealthy businessmen stealing their work. But it's also a story of what happens when you get involved with the Mafia before you hit puberty, and your career peaks at thirteen. The Teenagers only had one really big hit, but it was one of the biggest hits of the fifties, and it was a song that is almost universally known to this day. They named themselves the Ermines.
Class of 1993
That voice! Those apple cheeks! Arms wide, head back, he radiates joy, even in antique black and white. That beautiful soprano flying high, talent and presence and just enough ham to sell it all. And it was a great story, too: Up from nothing! A shooting star! They sang doo-wop under the streetlight on the corner of th and Amsterdam. It was
The mirage of the singer’s soaring success echoes the mirage of post-war tranquility at home
Photo added by Curtis Jackson. After being together for about 18 months, and numerous successes, Lymon's manager wanted him to try a solo career. Lymon took his manager's advice and after only playing half way through there London Palladium Tour in London, England, Lymon left the group behind and headed out on his own. Both Lymon's solo career and the 'Teenagers' career with out Lymon were unsuccessful and both parties fell apart. Though only together for a short period of time, the group did help pave the way for such personalities as, 'The Jackson 5,' and Michael Jackson on his solo career. He also gave Motown founder Berry Gordy the idea to model his entire Motown production approach on him. Known for his 'hard way' of living Lymon's later life was plagued by several bad marriages, alcohol abuse, drug use, and his lust of fast cars. On February 27, , at the young age of 26, Lymon died of an accidental heroin overdose. In , four years after the first ruling the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit on the basis of the statute of limitations and authorship, gave the song rights back to Frankie Lymon and music producer Morris Levy. Sherman Garnes died of a heart attack in , and Joe Negroni died of a cerebral hemmorage in
He was the first African American teen heartthrob and inspired a host of other young musicians, such as Michael Jackson. However, Lymon was an ill-fated pioneer who could not cope with his sudden fame and who spent the final years of his life battling drug addiction. Lymon was born in Harlem on September 30, His father sang gospel music in a group called the Harlemaires, and Lymon became a talented singer of the street-corner harmony known as doo-wop. In , a chance encounter propelled Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers to a higher level. The Valentines had recorded for Gee Records, a small independent label that had cashed in on the rapidly growing popularity of doo-wop music. Upon hearing Lymon and the Teenagers perform, they rushed the group into the recording studio.