Brief 1956 Encounter with Frankie Lymon Led Manhattan Transfer’s Tim Hauser to a Life of Singing
The late Tim Hauser will be honored when his group, Manhattan Transfer, is given a 2020 lifetime achievement award by the East Coast Music Hall Of Fame. Long before Tim founded Manhattan Transfer, he sang and recorded with the doo wop group, the Criterions. Early on, Tim Hauser developed an interest in black music, specifically rhythm & blues. Still, it took a chance meeting with Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers at Asbury Park’s Convention Hall to cement his desire to seek a career as a singer.
Timothy Hauser was born December 12, 1941, in Troy, New York. He moved with his family to the New Jersey Shore area when he was seven years old. Living in Wanamassa, about two miles northwest of Asbury Park, Tim attended St. Rose High School in Belmar. There he sang in the glee club and played left field for the school’s varsity baseball team.
On the night of June 30, 1956, Tim attended a Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers concert at Convention Hall with some friends. As it turned out, the concert was shut down before it really got going. After crowding 2,700 youngsters onto the ballroom floor at 8 PM, fans of the Teenagers had to wait until nearly 11 PM for the act they came to see to go on. As Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers started their first song, the anxious crowds surged forward to see the group. Feeling crushed, the fans in the front pushed back and fights broke out. At that point, the concert was stopped and order was restored. As the Teenagers started their second song, more fights broke out and the concert was stopped. Almost 3,000 youngsters who had waited all night to see Frankie Lymon sing were told to go home. A riot broke out as the young audience poured out onto the boardwalk and the street.
“We heard the bottles break and everybody dispersed,” Tim recalled. Separated from his friends, Tim crawled onto the stage to avoid the fighting. Tim knew his way around Convention Hall from previous visits there with Boy Scouts Jamborees. He knew he could escape unharmed through the back of the stage. But in the wings, he met a confused Frankie Lymon.
“This kid came over to me with makeup in his hand. It was Frankie Lymon,” recalled Tim Hauser. “He asked, ‘Do you know where the dressing rooms are?’ And I did.” Tim led Frankie Lymon to the dressing room where the other Teenagers had already retreated. He was invited in and sat mesmerized on the dressing room floor while the Teenagers rehearsed “I Promise To Remember,” acappella. “It was like a lightning bolt from God saying this is where you’re going,” said Tim. “It was like God’s way of saying, ‘Here’s your gig, son, and if you don’t get it, it’s not my fault.’” That brief encounter would lead Tim Hauser to a lifetime of singing.