Headstone of late doo-wop star Frankie Lymon stood in NJ backyard for years. Now it’s headed to a museum
The late singer Frankie Lymon is known for his 1950s hits, including the song “Why Do Fools Fall In Love.” Somehow Lymon’s gravestone wound up in a New Jersey backyard – in a tale that could only happen in New Jersey.
On Friday, for one final time, a small group of fans of the long-departed doo-wop star gathered at his gravestone in the backyard of Elmwood Park resident Pam Nardella before the stone was finally removed.
“I think it’s a little sad. But we’ll put something else. I might put a bulldog statue there,” says Nardella.
The stone was loaded up and shipped to Michigan where it will go to the Michigan Rock ‘n’ Roll Legends Hall of Fame Museum.
“When you think about music in Michigan, probably the name that comes up most often is Motown,” says museum founder Gary Johnson.
Removing the headstone put an end to the monument’s eight-year stint among Nardella’s nativity set and springtime irises. Before the stone ended up in her backyard, it sat for years in the window of the Clifton Music Record Shop, which closed in 2012.
Why the stone was never at Lymon’s grave is a long story.
For about 20 years after his tragic death at age 25 in 1968, Lymon’s grave in St. Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx was unmarked. A group of fans, headed by the late Ronnie Italiano – owner of the Clifton Music Record Shop – held benefits to buy a headstone.
But amid a court battle over his estate between Lymon’s three wives, one of those wives hurriedly put her own headstone on the grave. It was a move that the fans believed was one just for the money.
They said that their headstone was forged out of love. Nardella and other fans have always considered it to be the real one.
And now the father-son team of Scott and Michael Rullis from Monroe Monuments will take it away and bring it to the museum that fans say is where it belongs.