The Teenagers  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Wiki Commons

Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

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.



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 1955, thirteen-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'd 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 sung 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 ABCs 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 new lead Billy Lobrano. Lobrano, as the group's first white member, made them even 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 lineup 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. By 1973, the Teenagers had resorted to using a female singer to imitate Lymon's prepubescent voice; the last of their female lead singers was Pearl McKinnon.

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. By 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 lineup appeared on the PBS special, Doo Wop 51, in 2000.

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 lineup 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. The group's current lineup is Herman Santiago, Jimmy Merchant and Timothy Wilson. They are often billed as "Frankie Lymon's Legendary Teenagers".

Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers discography


Gee releases
  • 1956: "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" / "Please Be Mine" 1
  • 1956: "I Want You To Be My Girl" / "I'm Not A Know It All" 2
  • 1956: "I Promise To Remember" / "Who Can Explain"
  • 1956: "The ABC's Of Love" / "Share"
  • 1956: "I'm Not A Juvenile Delinquent" / "Baby, Baby"
  • 1957: "Paper Castles" / "Teenage Love"
  • 1957: "Out In The Cold Again" / "Miracle In The Rain" 1
  • 1957: "Goody Goody" / "Creation Of Love" 3


  • 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"
  • 3 Both sides of this release are actually Frankie Lymon solo recordings.


  • 1956: The Teenagers Featuring Frankie Lymon
  • 1957: "Flip-Flop" / "Everything To Me" (Gee)
  • 1958: "My Broken Heart" / "Momma Wanna Rock" (Roulette)
  • 1960: "Crying" / "Tonight's The Night" (End)
  • 1960: "Can You Tell Me?" / "A Little Wiser Now" (End)
  • 1961: "What's On Your Mind?" / "The Draw" (Joey & the Teenagers, Columbia)
  • [DHS|DHS]


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Teenagers" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools