Why Do Fools Fall in Love (song)

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"Why Do Fools Fall in Love"
Single by Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
from the album The Teenagers Featuring Frankie Lymon
B-side "Please Be Mine"
Released January 10, 1956
Recorded 1955
Genre Doo wop, rock and roll
Length 2:20
Label Gee
Writer(s) Frankie Lymon, Herman Santiago, Jimmy Merchant
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers singles chronology
"Why Do Fools Fall in Love"
"I Want You to Be My Girl"

"Why Do Fools Fall in Love" is a song that was originally a hit for early New York City-based rock and roll group Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers in January 1956. It reached No. 1 on the R&B chart,[1] No. 6 on Billboard's Pop Singles chart,[2] and number 1 on the UK Singles Chart in July.[3][4]

The song helped to make Frankie Lymon a household name and would make him a rock and roll pioneer.

The Canadian group, The Diamonds, also did a more traditional doo wop version that came out the week after Lymon's, in March 1956. This version spent 19 weeks on the Billboard chart, topping out at No. 12.

The song was ranked #314 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[5]

Writing credits[edit]

In late 1955, The Teenagers (at that time calling themselves The Premiers) auditioned a song called "Why do Birds Sing So Gay?" for George Goldner, recording producer and owner of Gee Records. Herman Santiago, tenor of the group, had written the song based on a line from some love letters given to the guys by a tenant in bassist Sherman Garnes' apartment building. One of them featured the words "Why do birds sing so gay?," which fit in with lyrics of other songs that Herman had been writing based on a 1-6-2-5 chord pattern. So Herman worked with it, creating a song for Herman Santiago to lead, and adjusting the harmony to take advantage of Frankie Lymon's high tenor/soprano. Along the way, Herman changed some of the lyrics. During the audition Frankie's voice stood out and, at Goldner's suggestion, the lead in subsequent recording sessions was given to Frankie. Frankie did some improvising and re-created the melody to match his own style. According to Jimmy Merchant, what happened at the recording session was a combination of "Frankie's singing ability coupled with George Goldner's special ability to bring out the best in Frankie."[6]

Although early vinyl single releases of "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" credit Frankie Lymon, Herman Santiago, and George Goldner as co-writers of the song, later releases and cover versions were attributed only to Lymon and record producer George Goldner. Goldner's name was later replaced by Morris Levy when Levy bought Goldner's interest in Gee Records, the Teenagers' record company.

After a lengthy court battle, song-writing credits were awarded to original Teenagers members Herman Santiago and Jimmy Merchant in December 1992.[7]

However, four years later in 1996, this ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit under the statute of limitations and authorship, because Santiago and Merchant did not bring the case to court soon enough. This gave the song rights back to Lymon and Levy.[7] The current publisher of the song is EMI Music Publishing, which still lists these as the songwriters.


  • Frankie Lymon - lead vocals
  • Herman Santiago - vocals
  • Jimmy Merchant - vocals
  • Joe Negroni - vocals
  • Sherman Garnes - bass vocals
  • Jimmy Wright - production, bandleader
  • instrumentalists unknown - feature double bass, drums, piano, saxophone and trombone
Preceded by
"The Great Pretender" by The Platters
Billboard R&B Best Seller in Stores number-one single
March 17, 1956 - April 7, 1956
Succeeded by
"Long Tall Sally" by Little Richard and His Band

Diana Ross version[edit]

"Why Do Fools Fall in Love"
Single by Diana Ross
from the album Why Do Fools Fall in Love
B-side "Think I'm in Love"
Released September 25, 1981
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded 1980
Genre R&B, soul
Length 2:51
Label RCA Records
Writer(s) Herman Santiago
Producer(s) Diana Ross
Certification Silver (BPI)
Diana Ross singles chronology
"Endless Love"
"Why Do Fools Fall in Love"
"Mirror Mirror"

Diana Ross released a cover version on the RCA label in 1981, peaking at No. 7 on Billboard's Pop Singles Chart, and No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart, earning her a British Phonographic Industry silver disc award for sales in excess of 250,000 copies. It also reached #1 in Belgium and the Netherlands and climbed to the top 10 in Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland as well as making the top 20 in Australia, Canada and Germany. Unlike the original, this version contains echoes of the soul of the 1960s. A reissue of Ross' cover peaked at #36 on the UK chart in July, 1994.[3]

Music video[edit]

The plot of the music video Diana Ross performs the song in a city full of casinos and clubs (Las Vegas).[8]


Track listings[edit]

7" Single
  1. "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" - 2:51
  2. "Think I'm In Love"
UK remix CD
  1. "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" (159.0 bpm) - 2:53
  2. "I'm Coming Out" (Joey Negro Extended 12", 109.7 bpm) - 6:05
  3. "The Boss" (David Morales Club, taken from: Diana Extended/The Remixes, 124.0 bpm) - 6:29
  4. "Love Hangover" (Joey Negro Hangover Symphony, 121.0 bpm) - 8:57
  • UK reissue 7"
  1. "Why Do Fools Fall in Love"
  2. "I'm Coming Out" (Joey Negro 7" Mix)

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1994) Peak
UK Singles Chart 36
Preceded by
"Under Pressure" by Queen featuring David Bowie
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
December 19, 1981 – January 8, 1982 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"One of Us" by ABBA
Preceded by
"Pretend" by Alvin Stardust
Belgian Singles Chart number one single
December 26, 1981 – January 1, 1982 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"One of Us" by ABBA

The Beach Boys version[edit]

"Why Do Fools Fall in Love"
Why Do Fools Fall in Love Beach Boys.jpg
Single by The Beach Boys
from the album Shut Down Volume 2
A-side "Fun, Fun, Fun"
Released February 3, 1964
Format Vinyl
Recorded January 1, 1964
Length 2:07
Label Capitol
Writer(s) Frankie Lymon / Morris Levy
Producer(s) Brian Wilson
The Beach Boys singles chronology
"Little Saint Nick"
"Fun, Fun, Fun"
"I Get Around"

The song was used as a B-side for The Beach Boys single "Fun, Fun, Fun", which reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964. The Beach Boys version of the song charted at #120. It was included on the Beach Boys 1964 album Shut Down Volume 2 and had only appeared in mono since the release of the single back in 1964. The single mix of the song was later found and used on the 2007 The Warmth of the Sun compilation and on the Original US Singles Collection The Capitol Years 1962–1965. This box set, released in 2008, also used a recently found mono single edit mix. In 2009, a new stereo mix was created with a newly discovered intro, thanks to the discovery of the original multitrack masters by Jon Stebbins and is featured on the band's compilation Summer Love Songs. The song was also performed as part of the bands 50th Anniversary Tour, usually during the first half of the shows. One of the performances was later included on the live album from the tour.

Other cover versions[edit]

"Why Do Fools Fall in Love" has also been covered by Barry Frank, Kenny Rankin, Gale Storm, Gloria Mann, The Fabulous Four, Marion Ryan, Alma Cogan, Voices of Theory, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and Joni Mitchell. The Gale Storm version on Dot Records was recorded shortly after the Frankie Lymon original was released. It sold well and many white radio listeners of the time had heard only the Storm version and had no idea another version existed. Storm had a light soprano voice, and sounded classically trained; she had nearly no feel for rhythm and blues and yet her record in its way is as significant as the Lymon original. She approaches the song ironically and playfully. Virtually all of Storm's hits were covers of other artists' songs, but, she never simply copied the originals. She always brought her own qualities to them.

It's notable that both Diana Ross and Ronnie Bennett Spector said they had wanted to sound like Frankie Lymon and had been inspired by the tone and texture of his voice and particularly its clear, ringing quality. At the time of releasing her version of "Why" as her first RCA Victor single and the title track on her premier RCA album, Ross paid tribute to Lymon's inspiration.

The song was covered by the English glam rock band Mud in 1979 .

Tatyana Ali performed the song as a contestant on Star Search in 1987. She also performed it in an introductory skit in Eddie Murphy Raw where she played Eddie's sister.

Gina Thompson and female rapper Mocha covered the song with production by Timbaland and Missy Elliott for the 1998 original soundtrack of the film of the same name.

This song was also covered in more recent years by The Overtones on their debut album Good Ol' Fashioned Love in November 2010.


The recording by Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers features in the 1973 film American Graffiti in the scene where Richard Dreyfuss' character first notices the mysterious blonde girl. The same recording was also featured on the in-game radio station "Empire Central Radio" in the 2010 video game Mafia II. It is featured in the final episode of the first series of the 2012 BBC Drama Call the Midwife when the character Chummy played by Miranda Hart marries PC Noakes. In 1998, the legacy of the song and its author was the theme of the movie of the same name.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 368. 
  2. ^ The heart of rock & soul: the 1001 greatest singles ever made - Dave Marsh - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  3. ^ a b EveryHit.com (search for songs called "Why Do Fools Fall In Love")
  4. ^ Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). En-field, Middle-sex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. pp. 26–7. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  5. ^ "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. April 7, 2011. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  6. ^ Marv Goldberg's R&B Notebooks, "The Teenagers", based on interviews with Jimmy Merchant.
  7. ^ a b "Frankie Lymon (1942 - 1968) - Find A Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  8. ^ "Diana Ross - Why Do Fools Fall In Love - Video Dailymotion". Dailymotion.com. 2007-04-28. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  9. ^ a b Steffen Hung. "Forum - Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts - 1980s (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2016-08-22. 
  10. ^ "Chart File Top 100" (PDF). Record Mirror. London: Spotlight Publications. December 26, 1981. p. 27. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-10-04. 
  12. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1982/Top 100 Songs of 1982". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-08-22. 

External links[edit]