After I’ve heard for the first time “Forget Him”, Bobby Rydell instantly reached a top place in my ’60s favourite daydreaming playlist. His strong velvety voice is tender and emotional, like a warm comforting embrace given to his listeners.
After I’ve seen for the first time Allan Slutsky’s “Standing in the Shadows of Motown”, it became the documentary I can watch over and over again and still enjoy every minute. This awe-inspiring movie combines the everlasting joy of singing with the nostalgia of the golden ’60s when music was sweet and gentle.
After an eighteen-month collaboration, the amazing Bobby Rydell and the inspirational Allan Slutsky created “Bobby Rydell: Teen Idol On The Rocks – A Tale Of Second Chances”, the biography which tells the story of the kid from the Italian South Philly who conquered the world with his native talents: voice, humour and charisma.
Allan Slutsky starts the book with his own recollection: “When I was a kid the early ’60s, it was impossible to go more than a few weeks without seeing Bobby’s face pop up on any one of a dozen TV variety and talk shows. How many times an hour did WIBG play “Volare” during the summer of 1960? Ten? Twelve? Maybe not, but it sure seemed that way. (…) Almost everyone in Philadelphia felt like they knew Bobby Rydell on a first-name basis – even if they really didn’t. He was the personification of the kid down the block.”
Moreover, a gallery of celebrities praise Bobby Rydell, the star. Dion DiMucci describes him as an “upbeat guy, electrifying, uplifting, filling the room with energy and joy”, while Fabian Forte states that “there’s no one funnier than Bobby. (…) When I watch him on stage, I’m in awe”. Frank Sinatra Jr. writes such a wonderful tribute: “His voice is pure because his heart is pure; he has dedicated himself to a lifetime of developing, honing, refining, and sharpening his craft to a total state of excellence that is unparalleled in the music industry; and at the same time, he is – and always has been – a good and gentle man.”
Even Sinatra Senior praised with many occasions Rydell’s voice and talent, while Paul McCartney mentioned one of Rydell’s hit records as the inspiration source for “She Loves You” (he was probably referring to “We Got Love”).
Bobby Rydell, the man behind the “pompadoured teen idol”, is celebrated throughout this wonderful memoir. He was a common teenager on the streets of mid-’50s Philadelphia, whose talent was far from being common. He was encouraged by his “handsome and vibrant” father, as he describes him, to pursue a music career, so he was just six years old when he got his first set of drums. His career path steadily ascended, from winning a local kids’ talent show, to touring with Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars and becoming the youngest person ever to headline the famous Copacabana in New York. He was also involved in movie projects such as the 1963 famous musical comedy “Bye Bye Birdie”, inspired by the phenomenon of Elvis being drafted into the US Army, “Combat!” or “That Lady from Peking”. He even traveled to Vietnam during the war to sing for the military troops located there.
Bobby’s recording career earned him 34 Top 40 hits, placing him in the Top 5 artists of his era (Billboard Magazine). Bobby’s hits include million selling singles “Volare”, “Wild One”, “We Got Love”, “Kissin’ Time”, “Swingin’ School”, “Wildwood Days”, and “Forget Him”, selling a combined total of over 25 million records. Speaking about “Volare”, he fondly recalls: “While in Italy, I got to meet Domenico Modugno, who invited me to visit him at his villa in Rome. Singing “Volare” him in his home was more than anyone had the right to ask for”.
His career had many dazzling highlights in his glory days of ’59 through ’64, but he also confesses missing some opportunities. In 1964, he recorder McCartney’s “A World Without Love”, but another duo released it before him and reached No 1 – they were Peter and Gordon. I must confess I definitely prefer Rydell’s version, because it is more powerful and vivid. Another time, he was recommended to be the leading actor of a new movie, but Dustin Hoffman got the part – it was “The Graduate”.
However, Bobby Rydell’s life was not always glamorous as you could image. He had to deal with his mother’s bipolar and patronizing attitude all his life, and, later on, with his father’s and his wife Camille’s deaths, who were his lifelong companions and confidants. His depression transformed into a drinking problem, which severely deteriorated his health. In 2012, a miraculous liver and kidney transplant saved his life and now we can still enjoy the outstanding Bobby Rydell’s performances on the world’s stages.
Here you can find the complete tour dates to see Rydell live and here you can buy this memorable book and discover everything about him. You can also read how he coped with everything, from stardom and screaming fans to the darkest depression, how he met huge stars like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin or Joe DiMaggio, how he strangely encountered The Beatles for the first time and how he found love again in recent years. Enjoy!