Bobby Rydell

From 1959 to 1963 Bobby Rydell put well over a dozen hits on the charts. He is a talented entertainer and a very good singer.

When he was born in Philadelphia in 1942 his given name was Robert Ridarelli. By age six he could play the drums, and his parents encouraged him to sing in local restaurants. As a child he worked at times with bandleader Paul Whiteman and became a regular on Whiteman's Teen Club amateur television show from 1951 to 1954. The young entertainer did impersonations of some of the well-known entertainers of the day such as Louis Prima and Milton Berle. It was Whiteman who suggested that he perform under the stage name Bobby Rydell, something that he has done to this day.

In 1956 Rydell joined local band Rocco and the Saints as a singer and drummer; it was a group that included future teen idol Frankie Avalon on trumpet. Bobby recorded some singles on the Chancellor label that went nowhere. In 1957 Frankie Day caught Rydell's act and liked what he saw. He took over management of the young singer and created the Veko record label. Rydell recorded Fatty Fatty for Veko, but it too met with little success in the market.

Day next brought Bobby Rydell to the attention of the Cameo record label, who enrolled him in singing and dancing lessons. It paid off. In late summer 1959 Rydell had his first bona fide hit with Kissin' Time, a record that went national and just missed the top ten. He made the top ten a short time later with his next release We Got Love. Cameo was pleased with their new star, who as the 50's ended was well on his way to becoming a teen idol -- with talent.

In early 1960 Bobby Rydell was hot, and recorded what would prove to be his biggest record with Wild One. The hits kept coming and by the time his run on the charts ended in early 1964, Rydell had added 16 more top forty hits. Those that would go top ten included Swingin' School (from the motion picture Because They're Young), Volare, The Cha-Cha-Cha, and Forget Him. He recorded a Christmas song, Jingle Bell Rock, as a duet with fellow Philadelphia recording star Chubby Checker. Many of his hits were written by Bernie Lowe, Dave Appell, and Karl Mann. Rydell also played a role alongside Ann-Margret in the motion picture Bye Bye Birdie in 1963, when he was 21, and did a number of television programs such as Combat! and The Milton Berle Show.

By 1964 the British Invasion was swamping the record industry and a singer with the appeal of someone like Bobby Rydell fell out of favor, despite his notable talent. He moved to the Capitol label for a couple of years but did not make the top forty again. He remained in the entertainment industry, occasionally appearing on television. In 1976 he re-recorded his old hit from sixteen years earlier, Sway, in a disco style. In the mid-80's he reacquainted with his old friends from Philadelphia, former teen idols Frankie Avalon and Fabian, and from time to time has appeared on stage with them in the Now and Then oldies show. In 2000 Rydell re-recorded some old hits and put out his first album in decades.

Bobby Rydell was one of pop music's brightest stars in the pre-Beatles era. He is a talented singer and a natural entertainer.

Most Recent Update: June 1, 2006

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