• plainfield
  • Union
  • March 30, 1948
  • January 20, 1969
  • Army
  • RANK:
  • PFC
  • KIA
  • South Vietnam


James Franklin Boyce, known to everyone as "Frankie" was born in Scranton, PA, on March 30, 1948. He was baptized at an early age and attended the St. Paul Baptist Church of Somerville, NJ. Frankie started singing gospel in Manville, NJ, when he was very young. He and his brothers formed a gospel singing group called the Carnation Jubilee Juniors. His group was named after the gospel group his dad was singing with called the Carnation Jubilee Singers. Frankie was a natural for music and began playing guitar at age nine. He briefly attended the Gregory School of Music in his hometown of Plainfield, NJ. He started playing guitar for the Carnation Jubilee Singers with his dad and he soon became well known in the local gospel circuit. Frankie and his dad left the Carnation Jubilee Singers and formed the Gospel Revelations. He and his dad went on to form the Seeking Wonders with his older brother.

Frankie and his brothers, John and Richard, formed an R&B band called "JoJo and the Admirers", playing at shows, local dances and parties; they also performed at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY, on amateur night. When Frankie was thirteen, he joined the "Soul Seekers", a popular gospel group, recording his first album with them entitled "Songs for my Mother". He and his brother performed with the Soul Seekers at places like the Boston Arena, the Met in Philadelphia and many other arenas, stadiums and churches along the northeast and southeast regions of the country, being billed with many major gospel acts, like "The Five Blind Boys". Frankie played for his mother's gospel group, "The Plainfield Gospel Five," and also sang back up for other gospel groups on programs and traveled with them when he was available. His talents drew many people to him for guitar lessons.

Frankie and his brothers changed the name of the R&B group to the Admirations and in 1964, they signed a recording contract with the Hull Record Label in New York City and recorded the singles "Moonlight" and "Ain't It Funny," which Frankie wrote and sang lead vocals on. He was also lead choreographer for the group. During the same period, Frankie played guitar for "George Clinton and the Parliaments". Many members of the Parliament-Funkadelic Band started out playing with Frankie and his brothers. Frankie played guitar for the Christian Temple Church in Newark, NJ. He was heard live on Sunday nights playing his guitar for the church on the Newark, NJ radio station WNJR. Frankie recorded two albums with the church choir entitled, "Turn it Over to Jesus" and "He's a Shelter in the Time of the Storm". Frankie graduated from Plainfield High School in June 1966. In 1967, Frankie and his brothers met record producer Jerry Ragavoy and began recording at the Hit Factory recording studio in New York City for Warner Brother Records. They recorded several songs in which Frankie wrote and sang lead vocals.

Frankie was drafted in April 1968. He and his brothers sang at several functions while stationed at Fort Dix, NJ. Frankie and one brother went on to Fort Polk, LA, where they performed for army brass and enlisted soldiers alike. He was awarded several trophies and letters of appreciation for donating his time and energy, displaying extremely high degree of proficiency in his musical ability and his superior performances.

Frankie was sent to Vietnam in September 1968, where he continued playing guitar and writing songs. He was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division in Pleiku and DakTo in the Central Highlands.

On January 18, 1969, his unit came under heavy enemy grenade, rocket and small arms fire. Frankie reacted immediately to the situation by rushing over the open terrain to warn his comrades of infiltrating enemy forces with complete disregard for his own personal safety. Frankie moved quickly to engage the enemy with return fire. In the ensuing battle, Frankie was wounded by the hostile fire and died two days later on January 20, 1969, at the age of 20.

Frankie received the Bronze Star with "V" for valor for his heroism. He also received the Purple Heart Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Military Merit Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, the Expert Badge with Rifle and Auto Rifle Bars, the Sharpshooter Badge with Machine Gun Bar and several other service awards.

Frankie was named "Youth of the Year 1968, for unselfish dedication to this family and country" by the South Second Street Youth Center in Plainfield, NJ.

A Valentine's Day show was given in Frankie's memory at Plainfield High School on February 14, 1969, featuring a major recording act and other local bands.

Frankie was recognized in the 1982 documentary "Veterans after Vietnam" which was filmed during the Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedication in Washington, DC and the 1998 book (For the Record) George Clinton and P-Funk.

In 1995, during the dedication of the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Holmdel, NJ, Frankie's song "I See A Cloud" was set up by a local newspaper company for the public to hear his fantastic voice and guitar playing.

In May 2001, at a special memorial dedication in Frankie's hometown of Plainfield, NJ his brother sang "Soul Soldier" in his honor. "Soul Soldier" was one of the songs Frankie wrote in Vietnam. The songs and his guitar were sent home to his family.

Frankie never had the chance to reach to become world famous, but his God given gifts and genius has influenced many in and outside of the entertainment world. Frankie was recognized in Funk - Great Musicians - Influential Groups, published in 2001.

In the fall of 2001, Flavour magazine dedicated a page to Frankie. It was titled "Holding a Memory". The article mentions that Frankie toted his guitar, rifle and baggage as he trudged through the steamy jungles of war during his four months in Vietnam. He would soothe the mood of his fellow soldiers with his soulful singing and guitar plucking. The article shows brother, Richard, clinging to the guitar in Frankie's memory.

Written by Richard S. Boyce, Sr., Brother
November 5, 2001

In 2004, the book Union County Black Americans was published and included a two-page feature on Frankie's musical and military experience. In July 2005, Bass Player magazine featured an article on Parliament/Funkadelic Bass players and tells about Frankie's involvement with the group as the group's first guitarist. The same article was published in September 2005 in the Legends of Funk & R&B magazine presented by Bass Player. In February 2006, the book Hobbstown was published and it features an article on Frankie's influence on the music world and how his death affected the author and the group she had sang with, who Frankie had played guitar on numerous occasions.

Frankie Boyce was mentioned in the August/September 2006 issue of Wax Poetics magazine that featured a story on Parliament-Funkadelic and dug deep into the sprawling history of the supergroup.

Boyce's Bronze Star citation reads:
For heroism in connection with military operations against an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. Private First Class Boyce distinguished himself while serving as a Rifleman with Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division. On 18 January 1969, the patrol base of Company B came under heavy enemy grenade, rocket and small arms fire. Private First Class Boyce reacted immediately to the situation rushing over the open terrain to warn his comrades and return fire on the enemy. When the enemy force threatened to breach a section of the perimeter, Private First Class Boyce, with complete disregard for his own personal safety, moved quickly to thwart the insurgents. In the ensuing battle, Private First Class Boyce was fatally wounded by the hostile fire. Private First Class Boyce's courage and aggressiveness at the risk of his own life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

Frankie's legacy lives on as he has been featured in multiple books about the Music of the Era. You can read more about Frankie in the following books.

George Clinton and the Cosmic Odyssey of the P-Funk Empire by Kirs Needs
George Clinton mentions in this book, about the celebration of the Plainfield public holidays and naming some of the local bands which included The Admirations featuring the Boyce Brothers.

Brothers Be, You Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You A Memoir by George Clinton
This book talks about George Clinton and his musical career from the beginning, his involvement with the Plainfield musicians and how the music scene was centered around the Boyce Brothers and that many of the guys who played in the Boyce Brothers band later became P-Funk members who ended up in the "Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame", George talks about his songwriting and working on music with the Boyce Brothers and he said that Frankie was a real fantastic guitar player. George mentioned Frankie going to Vietnam and that Frankie's death in Vietnam was a tremendous blow to everyone.

Detriot 67: The Year that Changed Soulby Stuart Cosgrove

The book "Detroit 67", showing Diana Ross & The Supremes on the front cover was nominated "Music Book Of The Year 2016". This book mentions the statistics of the young African American men sent to Vietnam and mentions several Motown singers who had family in Vietnam, two, in particular, are Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye. An England Internet DJ (Dug Chant) told me about the book when he visited Detroit and that the book talked about Frankie being a former member of the Parliaments who had national success with their song "I Wanna Testify", Frankie being sent to Vietnam still playing his guitar and writing songs over there and after his death in Vietnam among his personal effects sent home was his guitar and lyrics which mentioned "Soul Soldier", a song which he wrote about his personal feelings.

Commentary on the books was provided by Richard Boyce, Frankie's brother, A Vietnam Era Veteran, and long-time Friend of the NJVVMF.

Sources: The Boyce Family and NJVVMF.


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