"I can't complain at all about my career. You know, it's had its ups and downs, it peaks and valleys, so on, so forth. But I've survived through all of that, and I'm continuing to do what I really enjoy doing."
Bobby Rydell was born Robert Louis Ridarelli in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 26, 1942. He was the son of Jennie Ridarelli (nee Sapienza), a homemaker, and, Aldo "Al" Ridarelli, a foreman in a machine shop. Both of his parents were of Italian descent. and Bobby grew up in the Lower Moyamensing neighbourhood of South Philadelphia.
|Bobby and his mother, Jeannie|
Bobby was a teen idol and part of the Philly music scene which also produced Frankie Avalon and Fabian Forte. He was known for songs such as "Wild One" and "Volare," and for his portrayal of Hugo Peabody in the 1963 film adaption of the musical comedy Bye Bye Birdie in which he co-starred with Dick Van Dyke, Ann-Margret and Janet Leigh.
Bobby's father, Al, sparked his musical interest by bringing him to see the jazz bands of Arte Shaw and Benny Goodman. At the age of seven, Bobby began playing the drums and singing in nightclubs in Philadelphia and New Jersey.
As a pre-adolescent, Bobby won a talent contest on the TV series Paul Whiteman's TV Teen Club. The nine-year-old won a spot in the cast, where he remained for several years. Whiteman, a bandleader, had difficulty pronouncing "Ridarelli" and Bobby's last name was anglicized to "Rydell."
As a teen, Bobby played in several bands in the Philadelphia area, such as Rocco and the Saints, for which he was the drummer. Frankie Avalon was also a member of Rocco and the Saints and he played trumpet for the group.
Bobby eventually signed a recording contract, and in1959, at the age of 16, his first hit, "Kissin' Time," appeared on the Billboard 100 . According to a statement by his representatives at the time of his death, Bobby 34 Top 100 hits and over 25 million album sales during his career.
Bobby frequently appeared on television as a singer and an actor. By the age of 17, the kid from South Philly with the high pompadour was a fixture on Dick Clark's American Bandstand.
Below is a photo of Bobby with Dick Clark and fellow teen idols: From left: Fabian, Dick, Clark, Bobby and Frankie Avalon
Bobby appeared in a 1960 episode of The Danny Thomas Show entitled "The Singing Delinquent" (Season 7, Episode 29, Air Date: April 18, 1960). He portrayed a talented young singer with a bad attitude, whom Danny tries to help.
Below is a photo of Bobby in a scene from The Danny Thomas Show in which he sings "All of Me."
The British Invasion of 1964 had a negative impact on Bobby's career as a teen idol. The arrival of The Beatles and their British counterparts changed the pop scene dramatically. However, Bobby did have some modest success on the charts with his cover of the Peter and Gordon hit "World Without Love" (Please lock me away) (1964). In 1976, he recorded "Sway" with a disco flavour. "Sway" is an English language version of a 1953 mambo instrumental song by Mexican composers. Dean Martin recorded the most well known English rendition of the song in 1954.
In 1985, Bobby formed a trio called The Golden Boys with former teen idols Frankie Avalon and Fabian. For years, The Golden Boys performed nostalgia concerts all over the world and delighted fans.
Below is a photo of the Golden Boys (Left to Right): Bobby Rydell, Fabian and Frankie Avalon.
|Bobby and Camille 1967|
|Bobby and Linda in 2014|
* Bobby Rydell grew up on South 11th St. in Philadelphia. In 1995, the street was renamed Bobby Rydell Boulevard in his honour. In Wildwood, New Jersey, there is a mural of Bobby on the boardwalk of the beach resort that that inspired his 1963 hit "Wildwood Days."
* In 1961, Bobby's success as an entertainer prompted his father, Aldo, to resign from his job as a foreman at the Electro-Nite Carbon Company in Philadelphia after 22 years. Aldo then became Bobby's road manager.
According to Bobby's official website, he was the youngest performer, at the age of 19, to ever headline the Copacobana Club in New York City.
* Bobby writes about his struggles with alcoholism in his autobiography Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances. The book tells of his deep depression after the death of his first wife, Camille, and how it contributed to his alcoholism, jeopardized his career and led to his liver and kidney transplant.
* In his autobiography Bobby also discusses his relationship with his controlling mother, Jeannie, whom he describes as "high strung, bipolar, schizophrenic, manic depressive - anything you want."
* Frank Sinatra ranked Bobby as his favourite pop singer of the early 1960s.
* Fittingly, Bobby's name was chosen for "Rydall High School" in Grease, the Broadway musical and later 1978 hit film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The musical depicts American teenage life in the late 1950s.
SOURCES: The Guardian, "Bobby Rydell obituary," April 7, 2022; CNN Entertainment, "Bobby Rydell 'Wild One" singer dead at 79." by Sandra Gonzalez, April 5, 2022; Parade (parade.com), "Rydelll High School Inspiration, 'Volare" Singer and Bye Bye Birdie Star Bobby Rydell Dies at 79," by Jeryl Brunner, April 6, 2022; Philadelphia Sun Sentinel, "Philadelphia's former teen idol Bobby Rydell tells of life on the rocks in new book," by John J, Moser, July 21, 2016; Unexpected Philadelphia, The Great Photo Album Adventure: Linda Hoffman and Bobby Rydell," May 31, 2016; Wikipedia; IMDb (Internet Movie Database)