February 18 – Boston Conservatories, Frankie & Teenagers, Mr. Roboto

1867


Jordan Hall, dedicated 1903

Boston‘s New England Conservatory of Music,(*) founded by Eben Tourjee (the ‘Johnny Appleseed’ of conservatories), opens its doors.

It’s the oldest independent music school in the US, and a designated National Historic Landmark.
 ( Website )

Sister institution the Boston Conservatory was founded a few days earlier on February 11, 1867 by German-born violinist Julius Eichberg. (From a distance, it looks more … aufgeknopft.) Performing arts taught are music, dance and musical theatre.
 ( Website

1956

US integrated doo wop group Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers hit the charts with their biggest song Why Do Fools Fall in Love … headed for US#6.

In an era when most ‘teen’ music is written by industry adults, the NYC group (first called The Premiers) is also rock’s first all-teenaged act. The movie about Lymon’s life … and three wives looking for an estate … is released in 1998.

Sad tales of the music industry, #73: Ripping off the Teenagers:

Although early vinyl single releases of ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love’ credit Frankie Lymon, Herman Santiago, and Jimmy Merchant as co-writers of the song, later releases and cover versions are attributed to Lymon and George Goldner. When Goldner sells his music companies to Morris Levy in 1959, Levy’s name begins appearing as co-writer of ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love’ in place of Goldner’s.

Lymon — who, recently discharged from the Army, OD’s in his grandmother’s apartment on February 28, 1968, age 25 — is never paid his songwriters’ royalties during his lifetime. In 1987, Herman Santiago and Jimmy Merchant, both poor, sue Morris Levy for their songwriters’ credits. In 1996 the court tells them they’re 30 years too late. (*)

There are many such tales in the naked city. Check into The Murmaids & Popsicles, Icicles.

The Teenagers are inducted into the Rock HOF in 1993, and the Vocal HOF in 2000. ▷Rock Roots:Frankie Lymon▹ Not a Juvenile Delinquent  Love Put Me 

1983
US rock band Styx releases Mr. Roboto, fated to be a CA#1, US#3 hit. It’s actually a tune from Styx rock opera Kilroy Was Here, released on Feb. 28. The lead features a vocoded voice, a technology popularized by Wendy Carlos‘ 1971 music for A Clockwork Orange#58. A year before ‘Roboto’, a vocoder (a Lexicon PCM41) had been used in Afrika Bambaataa‘s influential 1982 single Planet Rock.

▷Birth of the vocoder▹ ▷Vocoder to Autotune▹