I know of a fool you see

Before Michael Jackson, before the Amazing Little Stevie Wonder, there was Frankie Lymon.  And just like Jackson and Wonder, he got his professional start at the age of 13.

Born into a poor Harlem family in 1942, Franklin Joseph Lymon, was working as a grocery boy at the age of ten and, with a knowledge of the world well beyond his years, soon began to augment his income by hustling prostitutes.

While still 12 he became enthralled with a Doo-Wop group called the Premiers at a local talent contest and didn’t hesitate to introduce himself as a singer.  After participating in a jam session Lymon was invited to join the group by lead vocalist Herman Santiago, just before they changed their name to the Teenagers and landed a recording audition with a newly created record label.

Santiago and the group’s tenor, Jimmy Merchant, had completed a song for the occasion, which was inspired by some love letters that a friend had received from his girlfriend and shared with them, including the line, “Why do birds sing so gay?”

On the day of the audition Santiago had a sore throat and was unable to sing lead so the precocious Lymon happily stepped in and added his own embellishments. Released as “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” by “Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers,” the song was an instant hit in 1956, reaching Number 6 on the Billboard Charts and Number One in the UK, the first chart topping single there by an American Rock & Roll group. Other hits followed but the limelight was short lived.

Although Santiago had graciously stepped aside as lead, Frankie Lymon soon left the Teenagers to embark upon a solo career that was sadly hampered by a heroin addiction that would take his life at the age of 25.  The Teenagers, who struggled on with other lead singers, finally disbanded in 1961, leaving behind a high-voiced signature sound that at its early best proved to be hugely influential on the wave of girl-groups to follow, while serving as a veritable blueprint for many of Motown’s most successful recordings.

 LISTEN TO THIS SONG – Wednesday 13 March 

Why Do Fools Fall in Love?

Oh wah, oh wah, oh wah

Oh wah, oh wah, oh wah

Why do fools fall in love?

Why do birds sing so gay?

And lovers await the break of day?

Why do they fall in love?

Why does the rain fall from above?

Why do fools fall in love?

Why do they fall in love?

Love is a losing game

And love can be a shame

I know of a fool you see, for that fool is me

Tell me why, why, why, tell me why

Why do birds sing so gay?

And lovers await the break of day?

Why do they fall in love?

 Why does the rain fall from above?

Why do fools fall in love?

Why do they fall in love?

 Why does my heart skip a crazy beat?

Before I know it will reach defeat

Tell me why, why, why

Why do fools fall in love?

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