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‘Fools’ gold for writers in court ruling

A federal jury in New York has awarded the copyright for the 1956 hit “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” to two members of Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, stating that the writers were improperly denied writing credit.

Jimmy Merchant and Herman Santiago, two members of the Teenagers, testified that they wrote the song before Lymon joined the group and before it was demonstrated to George Goldner, head of Gee Records, which later was absorbed by Roulette Records.

The song allegedly has sold more than 3 million copies and has been covered several times.

The copyright, taken out in 1956, was originally credited to Roulette owner Morris Levy (famous for once briefly holding the copyright to the term rock ‘n’ roll) now deceased, and Patricia Music Corp. in the name of George Goldner and Frankie Lymon. The original copyright was split 50/50 between the two entities.

Santiago and Merchant testified that Lymon’s name was used on the copyright as a marketing gimmick, and that they had written it before Lymon joined the group. After “Fools” was written and performed before Goldner, he requested that Lymon sing the lead, which resulted in Lymon changing the song to accommodate his own style, according to the plaintiffs.

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