FRANKIE LYMON AND THE TEENAGERS
(One of the earliest Rock and Roll Groups to visit the UK)
Frankie - born 30 Sept 1942 New York - died 28 Feb 1968.
By the beginning of 1957, rock and roll fever had taken a grip in Britain though the music business itself was not taking it seriously, merely tolerating it as a passing fad that would soon be forgotten along with the Davy Crockett hat. Little did they know what was to come!
The first major USA star to hit our shores was Bill Haley, his first concert was at the London Dominion on 6 Feb 1957, and British teenagers could not get enough of this great new music. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers will always be remembered as one of the earliest rock and roll groups to visit the UK, they opened their three month UK tour at the Liverpool Empire on 18 March 1957. The entire show was hot, wild, rock and roll and very visual and there was great media interest in the 14 year old lead singer – Frankie Lymon with his raucous yet high treble voice. Frankie’s age meant that he was subject to the strict UK labour laws and had to have a schooling tutor travel with him.
Who can forget their no. 1 hit "Why do fools fall I love" and "I'm not a juvenile delinquent" which reached no. 12 in the top twenty, so strong was their appeal that the records B side "Baby Baby" also went into the top twenty at number 4. It was great party music.
The "Teenagers" were: Jimmy Merchant, Sherman Garnes, Herman Santiago and Joe Negroni. The down side was that the "Teenagers" resented the fact that all of the attention fell onto Frankie and they disbanded in the summer of 1957, once back in the USA, leaving Frankie to go solo. His first solo single "Goody Goody" reached the top 30 on both sides of the Atlantic. Frankie enjoyed all of the excesses of stardom and, once his voice broke his career started to wane tragically he took to drugs and the Teenager who never grew up was dead at the young age of 25.
The surviving "Teenagers" continued to record sporadically and were inducted into the Rock and roll Hall of Fame in 1993. With their use of high tenor, deep bass and soprano, and their teen - orientated lyrics Frankie Lymon and the teenagers had one of the most distinctive sounds of the 1950's.
In these days of revival tours it would be great if Frankie had managed to "hang on in there" and reformed to bring us once again those great sounds of the 1950's.
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