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Find sources: "Frankie Lymon" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR was an American rock and roll/rhythm and blues singer and songwriter, best known as the boy soprano lead singer of the New York City-based early rock and roll group The Teenagers. The group was composed of 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, Joe Negroni and Herman Santiago. The Teenagers' first single, 1956's "Why Do Fools Fall in Love", was also their biggest hit. After Lymon went solo in mid-1957, both his career and that of the Teenagers fell into decline. He was found dead at the age of 25 on the floor of his grandmother's bathroom from a heroin overdose. 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! So when they found Frankie Lymon dead at the age of 25 one February morning in 1968, in the same apartment building where he’d grown up, it was the end of something and the beginning of something, but no one was quite sure what.
Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers were five kids from Washington Heights, just north of Harlem. They sang doo-wop under the streetlight on the corner of 165th and Amsterdam. They were discovered by the Valentines’ lead singer Richie Barrett while the kids were rehearsing in an apartment house. A few months later their first record, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” made it to the top of the national charts. It was 1956. Overnight, Frankie Lymon was the hottest singer in America, off on a world tour. He was 13 years old.
The broad-based success of this vocal ensemble helped signal the emergence of rock and roll as a part of mainstream teenage culture. The prepubescent soprano of 13-year-old lead singer Lymon, sounding innocent and girlish, represented one of the most appealing sounds in early rock and roll, and many later pop groups would feature a preteen male lead, most notably the Jackson 5. The Teenagers’ first successful record, “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” (1956), was followed by five more singles that appeared on the national survey lists of the most popular records in the United States. The Teenagers also appeared in two popular rock-and-roll movies starring disc jockey Alan Freed, Rock, Rock, Rock (1956) and Mister Rock and Roll (1957). (Source:
At age ten, Lymon started working as a grocery boy to supplement his family income meet. At age 12, he became familiar with the lead singer Herman Santiago of the local doo-wop group, Coupe De Villes. Eventually, he also became a part of the group which later was renamed to The Ermines and The Premiers. (Source: