Bobby Rydell

by Erika Cox
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To his credit Bobby Rydell was a true musician unlike many other teen idols. Bobby Rydell was born Robert Louis Ridarelli on April 26, 1942 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Like a number of teen idols, he was an Italian American, and grew up in the same Italian neighborhood of South Philadelphia as Frankie Avalon and Fabian. At a very young age Bobby often watched and impersonated musicians he saw on television and like many parents, his father noticed this talent and encouraged Bobby to pursue a musical career.

At the age of six, he learned how to play the drums after watching Gene Krupa on a television show and, although, unusual by today's standards, Bobby started performing at nightclubs at the tender age of seven.

Bobby's father often took him to various nightclubs to listen to various big bands around Philadelphia. While other kids were watching entertainers on television, Bobby was actually seeing them perform live.

Three years later, Bobby was an established performer, playing the drums professionally and performing in nightclubs doing imitations, he also started performing on Paul Whiteman's show.

During the three years Bobby performed on Whiteman's show he changed his name to an easier pronouncing name, Rydell. By the time he was a teenager, Rydell played drums for a local band called Rocco and the Saints, a dance band, that also featured Frankie Avalon playing trumpet. Bobby would also play the guitar and bass for the band. The band played all around Philadelphia, at high school events, shows, and vacation resorts.

Like Avalon, because of Bobby's talent he was picked out of the group by managers to focus on a solo career. The band's manager, Frankie Day, started taking Bobby to different record companies to promote and hopefully get him a contract. However, initially Bobby was not as successful as Avalon had been with his solo career. Bobby recorded a song called "Fatty Fatty" but it didn't go anywhere. Eventually Day contacted the owner of Cameo Records and Bobby signed with Cameo shortly after.

In 1959, Bobby released his first song with Cameo, "Please Don't Be Mad", which did a little better than "Fatty Fatty" and did get him some airplay on American Bandstand, although he didn't sing on the show.

Bobby's next single didn't do so well and at the time he noticed that his buddies from the neighborhood were having success, Avalon was having hit after hit and Fabian, who couldn't even sing, was becoming very popular; Bobby was getting frustrated. After thinking he would only be a drummer for the band, Bobby finally obtained some success, his next song "Kissin' Time" became a national hit and the song received major airplay on American Bandstand.

He finally appeared in a singing performance on American Bandstand, although, most artists that performed on the show lip-synched their songs and Rydell was no exception.

He started touring with Dick Clark's various shows around the country and in 1959 his song "We Got Love" went gold and became his first Top Ten hit. His biggest single "Wild One" was released in 1960 and became a million dollar seller.

Bobby would go on to have several million-dollar sellers and a string of hits throughout the early 1960's and he appeared in the Broadway show, "Bye Bye Birdie" with Ann Margaret.

By the mid-1960's the British invasion was in full force and the careers of many artists from the 1950's declined dramatically. Bobby would continue to perform with various artists throughout the 1960's and 1970's.

In 1985, Bobby along with Fabian and Frankie Avalon toured around the country as the Boys of Bandstand. He continues to perform in nightclubs and appear in a number of Dick Clark's television specials.

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