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Frankie Lymon

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Frankie Lymon (1942-1968) and the Teenagers were a New York doo wop group consisting of Joe Negroni, Herman Santiago, Jimmy Merchant, and Sherman Garnes, but centered around the extraordinary talents of their lead singer, 13-year-old Frankie Lymon. Lymon was credited with their first big hit, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" (in the early '90s, a federal judge ruled after a lengthy trial that Lymon hadn't written "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" -- another member of the Teenagers had). His wise-beyond-his-years vocal and performing abilities not only made the Teenagers a group several notches above the competition but made Lymon the first black teenage pop star. Though only together for a brief 18-month period, Lymon & the Teenagers exerted an enormous influence, spawning several "kid" vocal groups and providing initial inspiration to Berry Gordy to model his entire Motown production approach around Lymon's original vocal style. Inexplicably, the group split into two factions at the height of their success, and neither had a hit again. Lymon died from a drug overdose at age 26. Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Len Barry, and his principal protégé, Michael Jackson (whose early recordings with the Jackson 5 are virtual re-creations of the early Lymon sound, merely updated) all show the influence of Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers' groundbreaking work. ~ Cub Koda

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