In the previous article I highlighted reasons why Frankie Lymon may have been murdered and who may have been involved. Here in pt. 2 we’ll dive deeper and take a closer look at what could be one of the biggest cover ups ever. Here’s pt. 1 just incase you missed it. https://www.google.com/amp/s/tremg.info/2020/12/03/frankie-lymon-was-it-murder/amp/
First let’s look at three people with possible motives.
1. Morris Levy
Morris is listed first for obvious reasons. The main reason being his history with the mob. In a 2011 documentary Jimmy Merchant (original member of Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers) revealed that he and the only other surviving member, Herman Santiago once met with Levy in the 80s to talk about unpaid royalties. According to Merchant Levy wasn’t hearing it and dismissed them by intimidating them.
Jimmy Merchant also said that he and Herman Santiago received threats following the meeting. They much like everyone else knew he had connections and if that happened to them then who knows what happened to Frankie Lymon who was apparently talking with Levy about his unreleased songs and back royalties. Frankie as an adult knew more about the business than he did as a kid so naturally he wanted to be paid for the work he’d done. In 1962 Frankie sold his rights to the song “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” to Morris Levy but there were a handful of songs that he didn’t sell his rights to but never received royalties for.
2. Drug Dealer(s)
As mentioned in pt. 1, one of Frankie’s ex girlfriends said that he owed money to dealers who “collected in blood”. If that’s true then that would explain why he fled New York and didn’t want to go back. Frankie’s wife, Emira said multiple times that he did not want to go back to New York when his manager called him.
In 1968 Frankie himself told Jet magazine “New York isn’t fun city to me anymore…. This may sound strange coming from the mouth of a native New Yorker who has seen, done and become hip to everything but I feel comfortable and accepted there” (Georgia where he and Emira lived together). Maybe he didn’t feel comfortable in New York because he knew people were after him. In fact just weeks after this interview he was found dead. A few people from Frankie’s neighborhood said that after his death dealers would promote their product by saying “my bag killed Frankie Lymon.” Make of that what you will.
3. Sam Bray
Sam Bray was Lymon’s last manager and it seemed like he was the only person in the music industry who cared enough to revive his career. Bray’s intentions seemed good and genuine but maybe everything wasn’t what it appeared to be. Frankie had been down and out for awhile and then entered Sam who for some unknown reason decided to take a chance on him.
Prior to “pulling him out of the gutter” Sam Bray had never even met Frankie Lymon so why did he do it and where did he come from? Did he just do it out of kindness or was he a part of a dark plan? We know Frankie was no stranger to trouble but it wasn’t until he got involved with Sam Bray that he died. Look back at pt. 1 and you’ll see there was lots of money to be made off of Frankie Lymon’s name and Morris Levy knew this so it’s possible that he sent Bray in to look like a savior to help set things up. When Lymon died both Levy and Bray benefited from it financially. When an artist dies their records seem to fly off the shelves and in the case of Frankie Lymon his music was used in both movies and commercials. His unreleased songs were also released some time after his death, songs from his teen years which were under Morris Levy’s Roulette label and songs from his final days which were under Sam Bray’s Big Apple label. The only reason Frankie went back to New York is because Sam Bray promised him a new record deal and a chance to record new songs. How crazy is it that Frankie died soon after he signed the deal with Bray?
Where was Frankie Lymon’s body found? It was first reported that he was found in a friend’s apartment (see the picture below), it was later changed to him being found on his grandmother’s bathroom floor and it was even said that he was found outside in an alley.
Frankie told his wife Emira that after he left New York he was going to Europe as a part of a review. He then told her she could quit her job because he could take care of her. According to Emira this was the last conversation she had with her husband and it took place on February 26, 1968, the day before he died. You can read more about this in the December 1998 issue of Ebony magazine but back to what he told her. If Frankie was traveling to Europe and was going to make enough money to take care of his family then he must have been promised a lot. Did Sam Bray promise him this as well to help lure him back to the Empire State?
Every article says “Lymon decided to celebrate his good fortune by taking heroin.” The question here is who said that? Did Frankie tell someone he was going to shoot up? How does anyone know this? It’s an assumption just like everyone assumed he overdosed because there was a needle found near his body, there was never an autopsy. Everyone knew Frankie struggled with addiction so if someone killed him wouldn’t it make sense to place a needle next to his body?
Let’s close it out with a statement that may very well answer the question, was it murder?
In 2019 when talking about Frankie Lymon’s death Antonia Figueroa del Sol said the following. “Lewis Lymon was a strong hearted man and knew how to play his cards right by protecting himself. Seeing his brother being rolled out in a black paper bag and he knew he would be next if he told the truth. Lewis did the right thing by not telling the truth about how our Frankie died.” Yes, this is the same Antonia Figueroa del Sol/ Antonia Ventura who said “Frankie owed money to drug dealers who collected in blood” and “Frankie was murdered. I know this with all my heart.” You can read more about that here https://www.westword.com/news/fools-for-love-5059045
So after all that has been said and written what do you think happened to Frankie Lymon?