Former teen sensation Frankie Lymon of The Teenagers was found dead today (February 27, 1968)
The singer, 26, was found in the bathroom of his grandmother’s apartment in Harlem.
Frankie Lymon’s career goes back to 1955, when he formed his first group, after being inspired by the sounds of Doo-Wop singers on the streets of Harlem.
Together with his friend Herman Santiago, Lymon wrote a song titled “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” for their new group, The Teenagers.
The group signed with George Goldner‘s legendary Gee Records imprint and began a run of hits.
From 1955 until 1959, Frankie Lymon hit with songs like “The ABC’s Of Love, “I Want You To Be My Girl,” “Goody Goody” “Share,” and “I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent.”
But his affair with heroin, which started at the age of 15, eventually derailed his career.
He went solo in 1957 and signed with Morris Levy‘s Roulette Records.
It was around this time that Lymon caused major controversy, when he was shown dancing with a white teenaged girl on the TV show “The Big Beat,” which was canceled due to the scandal.
By 1961 Frankie Lymon’s career was over, his voice had changed and he was in drug rehab, until he was drafted into the army.
But Frankie Lymon also had a fast love-life.
Just before his death at 26, Lymon had already married his third wife, when he went AWOL from the Army in 1967.
He married his last wife Emira Eagle, whom he met during a benefit for the Glee Club at her high school.
In a January 1967 interview, Frankie Lymon opined over his situation.
“I never was a child… I was a man when I was 11 years old, doing everything that most men do,” Frankie Lymon said.
That included sleeping with women over twice his age, as well as indulging in drugs.
In 1988 a long-standing dispute over royalties derived from Lymon’s tune “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” was finally settled.
A judge ruled that Elizabeth Waters of Philadelphia, one of three women claiming to be Frankie Lymon’s legal wife, won $750,000 in a court decision over the song.
Elizabeth Waters was originally 20-years-old when she met Frankie Lymon, and she was also married at the time.
During the legal dispute, Waters was able to produce proof that she was Frankie Lymon’s legal legal wife, over Zola Mae Taylor of The Platters, as well as Emira Eagle.