Happy birthday to singer/songwriter/dancer Frankie Lymon, teenage superstar of the '50s. His tune "Why Do Fools Fall In Love", with his group The Teenagers, is still a perennial classic to this day.
Born in Harlem, he sang gospel with his sister. He dropped out of school at 10 to work in a store. At 12 he joined a doo-wop group that ultimately became The Teenagers, an integrated vocal group. At the 1956 session for "Why Do Fools Fall In Love", the lead singer was late so Lymon's sweet soprano took the lead and the rest is history. He became an early black pop idol. "The ABC's of Love", "I Want You To Be My Girl" and "I'm Not A Juvenile Delinquent" were among the several other big hits the group charted with.
Lymon went solo in '57 but his career took a hit when he started dancing with a white girl on TV, causing negative business ripples with racist advertisers. It was around this time, at age 15, that he got addicted to heroin. His voice then changed and his recordings became less successful. In '65 he briefly reunited with The Teenagers, but it didn't result in much. He was married three times and cleaned up while in the military. But celebrating a new record deal in '68, he died in his grandmother's bathroom of a heroin overdose. He was just 25.
Lymon's records and style was a huge influence on the Jackson 5, as well as the Beach Boys, Diana Ross, The Temptations and many others.