Friday, July 12, 2013

Lewis Lymon

Sorry to hear that Lewis Lymon has died, aged 69. Here is an entry I made on The Vinyl Word in February, 2012, when I came across a rare 45 by Lewis on the UK Oriole label.
I came across an obscure doowop 45 yesterday - not in great condition unfortunately - but worth a mention in my Vinyl Obscurities series. Details are as follows:
Lewis Lymon & the Teenchords: Your Last Chance/ Too Young. Released in 1957 on Oriole 45-1419. Mint value - £500.
Lewis Lymon (or Louis as he was often referred to) was, of course, the younger brother of Frankie Lymon and was only 12 when he began his recording career. Together with the Teenchords (note the similarity in name to Frankie Lymon's group the Teenagers) he recorded a handful of Frankie Lymon soundalike singles in the late 50s, initially with Bobby Robinson's Fury label and shortly afterwards with George Goldner's End label in New York. Lewis impressed Bobby Robinson when he and the Teenchords auditioned at his Harlem record shop and released a couple of singles on Fury - I'm So Happy and Honey Honey. Another track recorded there was Your Last Chance, which went on to become the group's first release on End. It also featured in the rock and roll movie Jamboree (known as Disc Jockey Jamboree in the UK) and there's a great clip available on YouTube (looking remarkably like the model for the Jackson Five). tp://
Lewis and his group played at the Apollo and made a further single for End (I Found Out Why) and a final one for another Goldner label Juanita (Dance Girl) but success eluded them and the group disbanded in 1958. After a spell in the army Lewis returned to obscurity, but at least didn't follow the drug fuelled demise of his brother and reappeared in oldies shows in the early 70s.
This 1957 release on the independent Oriole label in the UK - their only UK single release - does not credit the US recording label, or the songwriters, so it's not clear whether this originated from Fury or End, or exactly how it came to be picked up by Oriole, but it's a classic piece of doowop, very much in the style of older brother Frankie.
The B side is a doowop version of Too Young, a song made famous by Nat King Cole in 1951 and later recorded by artists as diverse as Sam Cooke, Michael Jackson and British DJ turned singer Jimmy Young.


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