Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Happy 74th, Bobby

This gives me the opportunity to ask myself a question that, quite frankly, I had not lost any sleep over trying to answer and that is "Was the movie Bye Bye Birdie really Bye Bye Bobby?". The reality is Bobby Rydell never had another major hit single after the film came out.

I never really understood why, but for two years, 1959 and 1960, Rydell was really a major star in the rock ‘n’ roll firmament, one of those "safe" vocalists like Frankie Avalon and Fabian that Dick Clark manufactured after Elvis was drafted in Clark’s blatant attempt to kill, or at least emasculate and domesticate, teen music tastes at that time.

He had a handful of hits, with Wild One, the song featured above as the one that ascended the highest on the charts, all the way to No. 2. Film producer Fred Kohlmar was so taken with Rydell and not only signed him to play Hugo, Ann Margret’s boyfriend, in the film musical Bye Bye Birdie but had the part completely rewritten from the stage version just for Rydell (on stage, the character of Hugo is not a speaking part).

So what did happen to Rydell? Like many other faded singers of the ‘50s and ‘60s (although it is worth noting here that the Rydell High School featured in both the stage and filmed versions of Grease is named after Bobby Rydell), he kept his career alive somewhat by performing in supper clubs and nightclubs, particularly in and around Las Vegas. He also maintains a high level of popularity in Australia. Don’t ask me why.

Unfortunately, health has become a problem for Rydell of late. He cancelled a planned Australian tour four years ago and in July 2012 he had double organ transplant surgery, having his liver and kidneys replaced. He did, however, play a three-night sold-out gig in Vegas in January 2013 and made good on his Australian tour in 2014.

Hope everything is well with you on the health front now, Bobby, and happy 74th birthday.

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