Dating places for teenagers
Then Sherman hooked up with a Hispanic neighborhood friend, Joe Negroni (who was in the process of forming a group, to be called the Ermines, with his friend Herman Santiago).
Joe asked Sherman to sing bass and to bring his friend Jimmy along. They practiced in the hallway of Sherman's house (on the corner of 165th Street and Edgecombe), or in Herman's house (165th, between Amsterdam and Edgecombe).
(In spite of their ages, however, both the Mello-Moods and the Castelles sang sophisticated, adult songs for an adult audience.) But the Teenagers were "in the right place at the right time" (to coin a phrase), and rode straight to the top of the nascent Rock and Roll craze.
The way to the top was remarkably easy; the way down wasn't. There was enough singing going on there for him to start learning about it, not only contributing his voice, but learning how popular music was structured and arranged.
There were five of them: Frankie Lymon (lead tenor), Jimmy Merchant (first tenor), Herman Santiago (second tenor), Joe Negroni (baritone), and Sherman Garnes (bass).
They were not the first group to have a young lead: Frankie was 13 when he started recording; both Ray Wooten of the Mello-Moods and George Grant of the Castelles had been 16 when their groups had first recorded several years earlier, although they both sounded much younger.
Herman lived directly across from Frankie Lymon's house (you know, Howard and Jeanette's little kid who worked in the grocery).
Jimmy was at 156th (between Amsterdam and Broadway), and Joe was at 153rd (near Amsterdam).
One of them featured the words "Why do birds sing so gay?
Many things that we somehow feel lasted a lot longer, only lasted eighteen months.
The pony express was only in operation for eighteen months.
Actually, he really couldn't help hearing them, since they'd sometimes practice on the corner near the grocery store in which Frankie worked; Barrett lived above the store.
He later came to one of their rehearsals at Stitt (the Valentines sometimes practiced there too) and said he'd see what he could do about bringing them to audition for George Goldner (owner of the Valentines' label, Rama).
Goldner didn't really want to hear them, but Barrett conned him into it by telling him that two of the guys were Spanish.