The Teenagers

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The Teenagers
Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers.jpg
The original five Teenagers; from left to right: Jimmy Merchant, Herman Santiago, Frankie Lymon, Joe Negroni and Sherman Garnes.
Background information
Also known as The Coup De Villes, The Earth Angels, The Ermines, The Premiers, Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers
Origin Harlem, New York City, New York, United States
Genres Doo-wop, Rock and roll
Years active 1954–present
Labels Gee, Roulette, End
Members Herman Santiago
Bobby Jay
Terry King
Scout Ford
Past members Frankie Lymon (deceased)
Jimmy Castor (deceased)
Joe Negroni (deceased)
Sherman Garnes (deceased)
Jimmy Merchant
Billy Lobrano
Howard Kenny Bobo
Johnny Houston
Lewis Lymon (deceased)
Pearl McKinnon
Eric Ward
Derek Ventura
Dickie Harmon
Timothy Wilson
Thomas Lockhart

The Teenagers are an American integrated doo wop group, most noted for being one of rock music's earliest successes, presented to international audiences by DJ Alan Freed. The group, which made its most popular recordings with young Frankie Lymon as lead singer, is also noted for being rock's first all-teenaged act.

History[edit]

The Teenagers had their origins in the Earth Angels, a group founded at Edward W. Stitt Junior High School in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan by second tenor Jimmy Merchant and bass Sherman Garnes. Eventually, Garnes and Merchant had added lead singer Herman Santiago and baritone Joe Negroni to their lineup and evolved into The Coupe De Villes. In 1954, 12-year-old Frankie Lymon joined the Coupe De Villes, who changed their name to first the Ermines and later The Premiers.

The same year Lymon joined the group, he helped Santiago and Merchant rewrite a song they had composed to create "Why Do Fools Fall In Love". The song got the Teenagers an audition with George Goldner's Gee Records, but Santiago was too sick to sing lead on the day of the audition. Lymon sang the lead on "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" instead, and the group was signed to Gee as The Teenagers, with Lymon as lead singer.

"Why Do Fools Fall in Love" was the Teenagers' first and biggest hit. The group, known for both their harmony and choreography, also had hits with "I'm Not a Juvenile Delinquent" and "The ABC's of Love".

By 1957, the group was being billed as "Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers". This caused in-fighting, and by September Goldner had pulled Lymon out of the group to record solo. The Teenagers continued recording, bringing in a new lead.[1] Billy Lobrano, as the group's first white member, made them more racially mixed, now with two black, two Hispanic, and one white member. The group had little success with Lobrano, and he left in mid-1958.

Merchant, Santiago, Garnes, and Negroni continued as a quartet, but were not able to find success in any new recordings. They tried a quintet line-up again in 1960, first with new lead Howard Kenny Bobo, then with another lead, Johnny Houston, but to no avail. They continued mainly as an "oldies circuit" group from this point on.

Sherman Garnes died of a heart attack in 1977, while Joe Negroni died a year later due to a cerebral hemorrhage. Their replacements were Bobby Jay and Frankie's brother Lewis Lymon, respectively. In the 1980s, the Teenagers had resorted to using a female singer to imitate Lymon's prepubescent voice; and Pearl McKinnon joined the band. The members at that time were Jimmy Merchant, Herman Santiago, Eric Ward, and Pearl McKinnon. By 1983, Ward had been replaced by Derek Ventura, and in 1984 Phil Garrito took over for Ventura. Roz Morehead replaced McKinnon, and Marilyn Byers moved into Morehead's lead spot. Later in the 1980s the group had settled on a new lead, Jimmy Castor. Castor remained lead until the 1990s, when he was replaced by Timothy Wilson, former lead of Tiny Tim and the Hits. This line-up appeared on the PBS special, Doo Wop 51, in 2000.[citation needed]

Lewis Lymon left to join Beary Hobbs' Drifters around 2003. He was replaced by Dickie Harmon. Jimmy Merchant retired shortly thereafter, and the group continued as a quartet. This line-up appeared on the PBS special, My Music: Doo Wop Love Songs, in 2007. In 2008 Bobby Jay and Dickie Harmon both left the group. Later original member Merchant came out of retirement, and returned to the group, replacing Bobby Jay. As of 2015, Jimmy Merchant had returned to retirement and been replaced in the lineup by a returning Bobby Jay. Most recently with the departure of Timothy Wilson & Thomas Lockhart in the winter of 2017 they have been replaced with Terry King and Scout Ford. The group's current line-up is Herman Santiago, Bobby Jay, Terry King and Scout Ford. They are often billed as "Frankie Lymon's Legendary Teenagers".

Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

Year Title Peak chart
positions
Record Label B-side Album
US Pop US R&B UK
1956 "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" 1 6 1 1 Gee Records "Please Be Mine" The Teenagers
Featuring Frankie Lymon
"I Want You to Be My Girl" 2 13 3 "I'm Not a Know It All"
"I Promise to Remember" 57 10 "Who Can Explain?" (R&B #7)
"The ABC's of Love" 77 8 "Share"
"I'm Not a Juvenile Delinquent" 12 "Baby, Baby"
1957 "Teenage Love" "Paper Castles"
"Out in the Cold Again" 1 10 "Miracle in the Rain"
"Everything to Me" "Flip-Flop"
1958 "My Broken Heart" Roulette Records "Mama Wanna Rock"
1960 "Can You Tell Me" End Records "A Little Wiser Now"
1963 "The Lemon-Twist Dance" Tahoe Records "The Twisting Rhumba"

Notes:

  • 1 Released as by "The Teenagers featuring Frankie Lymon"
  • 2 Early copies released as by "The Teenagers featuring Frankie Lymon"; billing on later pressings changed to "Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers"

Albums[edit]

Year Album Record label
1956 The Teenagers Featuring Frankie Lymon Gee Records

Films[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]