Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers

 

 

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what you think about this pilot
program in this brief survey.


  
   

Listen to the song on Spotify

"Why Do Fools Fall in Love" (1956)

Vocal harmony, or “doo wop” records were essential to the first wave of rock and roll. The groups, based in urban areas like New York and Philadelphia, created a unique sound featuring harmony singing and light or no instrumentation. Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers, from Harlem, New York released the most exciting and influential vocal harmony record, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” in 1956, when Lymon was only 13 years old. The song hit #1 on the R&B charts, #6 pop, and even hit number one in the United Kingdom, where rock and roll broke big. Lymon’s high, energetic voice and dynamic performance characterized the excitement and fun that defined rock and roll. The record also inspired many female performers who created their own groups, such as The Chantels and The Ronettes.

                                                        

Boyz II Men inducts Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

“Why Do Fools Fall in Love” Sheet Music, 1956

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Describe what you see. What do you observe?  

  • Frankie Lymon shares songwriting credit with George Goldner (producer and owner of Gee Records). What does this shared credit suggest about the realities of publishing royalties? What does it reveal about the relationship between artists and management/record companies in the early years of rock and roll?
  • What does the image used suggest about Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers as performers?  How is Frankie Lymon set apart? Note that “Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers” doesn’t appear as text in any prominent way. Why might that be?
  • What was the purpose sheet music? How did sheet music help to market a song and build an audience in the 1950s?

 

You can hear the influence of Frankie Lymon's vocal style combined with the Teenagers' harmony in the Ronettes (fronted by Ronnie Spector) and the Jackson 5 (fronted by Michael Jackson) and Destiny's Child (fronted by Beyonce).

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