Robert Louis Ridarelli[1] (April 26, 1942 – April 5, 2022), known by the stage name Bobby Rydell /ˌrˈdɛl/, was an American singer and actor who mainly performed rock and roll and traditional pop music. In the early 1960s he was considered a teen idol. His most well-known songs include "Wildwood Days", "Wild One" and "Volare" (cover of an Italian song by Domenico Modugno, "Nel blu, dipinto di blu"); in 1963 he appeared in the musical film Bye Bye Birdie.[2]

Bobby Rydell
Rydell in a 1960 publicity photo
Robert Louis Ridarelli

(1942-04-26)April 26, 1942
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedApril 5, 2022(2022-04-05) (aged 79)
Occupation(s)Singer, actor
Years active1950–2022
Camille Quattrone
(m. 1968; died 2003)
Linda Hoffman
(m. 2009)
Musical career
GenresRock and roll, traditional pop
LabelsCameo-Parkway, Capitol, Reprise, (U.S.)
Columbia (U.K.)

In the 1980s, he joined a trio called The Golden Boys, with fellow former teen idols Frankie Avalon and Fabian Forte. He continued to tour up until his death in 2022.

Early life edit

Rydell was born in April 1942 and was the son of Jennie Ridarelli (nee Sapienza) and Adrio "Al" Ridarelli. Both of his parents were of Italian descent. He grew up in the Lower Moyamensing neighborhood of South Philadelphia.[2][3]

As a child, he mimicked the singers he saw on television, and at the age of seven his father took him around the clubs of Philadelphia, asking if he could sing and do some impersonations. By the time he was eight, his reputation led to an appearance on a talent show on the national television series,TV Teen Club. He won the contest, and the show's presenter, Paul Whiteman, recruited him into the cast, where he remained for several years. It was here that his name was Anglicised to Bobby Rydell.[4]

Music career edit

Rydell played in several bands in the Philadelphia area. As a 14 year old he was the drummer for the Emanons (NoName spelled backward) which included his childhood friend Pat Azzara on guitar. Azzara later assumed the stage name Pat Martino, and went on to achieve recognition as one of the preeminent jazz guitarists of all time.[5] Another band was Rocco and the Saints, in which he sang and played drums.[4] After releasing three unsuccessful singles for small companies, he signed a recording contract with Cameo Records. This was run by Bernie Lowe, who had been the pianist accompanying him on TV Teen Club.[4] After a couple of flops, "Kissin' Time" made the charts in 1959.[2] In May 1960, Rydell toured Australia with The Everly Brothers, Billy "Crash" Craddock, Marv Johnson, The Champs, The Crickets, and Lonnie Lee.[6]

His second success was "We Got Love". The album of the same name, his first, sold a million copies and obtained gold disc status. "Wild One" was followed with "Little Bitty Girl" which was his second million-selling single. He continued releasing hit songs with "Swingin' School" backed by "Ding-A-Ling" and "Volare" later in 1960, which also sold over a million copies.[7] It is estimated he sold over 25 million records in total.[4]

In 1961, he performed at the Copacabana in New York City, where he was the youngest performer to headline at the nightclub.[2][7] In February 1961, he appeared at the Festival du Rock at the Palais des Sports de Paris in Paris, France.[8]

Rydell's success and prospects led his father, Adrio, a foreman at the Electro-Nite Carbon Company in Philadelphia, to resign in 1961 after 22 years to become his son's road manager.[9]

In 1963, Rydell released the song "Wildwood Days", which reached Number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and remained there for nine weeks.[10] A mural on the Wildwood, New Jersey, boardwalk, painted in 2014, honors Rydell, whose song placed the community in the national spotlight.[11]

That same year, Rydell portrayed Hugo Peabody in the film version of Bye Bye Birdie, also starring Ann-Margret and Dick Van Dyke.[2] The original stage production of Bye Bye Birdie had no real singing role for the character of Hugo, but the movie script was rewritten specifically to expand the part for Rydell.[12] In 2011, Sony Pictures digitally restored the film. Rydell and Ann-Margret were in attendance at the restoration premiere in Beverly Hills, hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[13]

Rydell performing in 1998

During the 1960s, Rydell had numerous hit records on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. His recording career earned him 34 Top 100 hits, placing him in the top five artists of his era (Billboard). They included his most popular successes: "Wild One" (his highest scoring single, at number 2), "Volare" (number 4), "Swingin' School" (number 5), "Kissin' Time" (number 11), "Sway" (number 14), "I've Got Bonnie" (number 18), and "The Cha-Cha-Cha" (number 10). His last major chart success was "Forget Him", which reached number 4 on the Hot 100 in January 1964. The song, written by Tony Hatch, was his fifth and final gold disc winner.[7]

Rydell left Cameo-Parkway Records later in 1964 and signed with Capitol Records.[14] By that point, the British Invasion had arrived and acts such as Rydell suffered a dramatic decline in popularity.[15] Bands such as The Beatles became more popular, and Rydell unwittingly contributed to his own downfall by inspiring John Lennon and Paul McCartney to write "She Loves You", a song which catapulted their success way beyond his.[4]

During that time, he performed on many television programs, including The Red Skelton Show, where a recurring role as Zeke Kadiddlehopper, Clem Kadiddlehopper's younger cousin, was written for him by Skelton. He also appeared on The Danny Thomas Show, Jack Benny, Joey Bishop, and The George Burns Show. He was a regular on The Milton Berle Show and was a panelist on To Tell the Truth in 1964. On October 6, 1964, he made a guest appearance on the episode "Duel" of the television series Combat!. It was Rydell's first dramatic acting role.[2]

In 1963, Rydell starred in an unsold television pilot called Swingin' Together produced by Desilu Productions, which featured him as the frontman for a four-piece rock 'n roll band seeking their big break.[16] Also during that time, Rydell served in the 103rd Engineer Battalion of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.[17]

In January 1968, it was announced in the UK music magazine NME that Rydell had signed a long term recording contract with Reprise Records.[18] He continued to perform in nightclubs, supper clubs and Las Vegas venues throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but his career was hampered by the refusal by ABKCO Records to reissue Rydell's Cameo-Parkway catalog, so it was completely unavailable until 2005, although he did re-record his hits in 1995 for K-tel Records).[19] He had one more hit after 1965, a disco re-recording of "Sway", which reached the Billboard Easy Listening chart in 1976.[12]

Rydell continued to tour for the remainder of his life, often with Frankie Avalon and Fabian Forte, performing under the name "The Golden Boys".[20] His autobiography was published in 2016.[20]

Personal life edit

Rydell was married to his first wife, Camille Quattrone Ridarelli, for 35 years, from 1968 until her death in 2003. They had two children. He married Linda Hoffman in 2009.[20] Rydell was a longtime resident of Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, and lived in the same house from 1963 to 2013.[20]

Rydell served in the U.S. National Guard, and began his service in 1964 with two months of basic training at Fort Dix.[21]

The street on which he was born in Philadelphia was renamed Bobby Rydell Boulevard, in his honor.[4]

Health and death edit

Rydell cancelled a 2012 Australia tour because his health had deteriorated significantly and he was in need of urgent major surgery.[22] On July 9, 2012, he underwent a double organ transplant, to replace his liver and one kidney, at Thomas Jefferson University in his hometown of Philadelphia.[23] In January 2013, six months after the double transplant surgery, Rydell returned to the stage in Las Vegas for a three-night engagement to a sold-out audience. He continued to perform internationally and returned to tour Australia in 2014.[24]

Rydell died from complications of pneumonia at Jefferson Abington Hospital on April 5, 2022, three weeks before his 80th birthday.[20][25]

Media edit

In the Broadway musical drama Grease, its film adaptation, and the film's sequel Grease 2, the high school was named "Rydell High" after Rydell.[26]

In 2000, in the book The Beatles Anthology (p. 96), Paul McCartney said:

John [Lennon] and I wrote "She Loves You" together. There was a Bobby Rydell song out at the time and, as often happens, you think of one song when you write another. We'd planned an "answering song" where a couple of us would sing "she loves you" and the other ones would answer "yeah yeah". We decided that was a crummy idea but at least we then had the idea of a song called "She Loves You". So we sat in the hotel bedroom for a few hours and wrote it—John and I, sitting on twin beds with guitars.

No specific song title is given in The Beatles Anthology, but Bob Spitz writes in The Beatles: The Biography that McCartney originally modeled "She Loves You" on the Rydell "answering song" called "Swingin' School", and not "Forget Him", as is commonly cited.[27]

In the Oscar-winning film Green Book (2018), Rydell is portrayed in the opening scenes by actor Von Lewis.[28]

Albums discography edit


Albums edit

Year Album Billboard 200
Record Label
1959 We Got Love Cameo Records
1960 Bobby Sings, Bobby Swings
Bobby Rydell/Chubby Checker 7
1961 Bobby Rydell Salutes "The Great Ones"
Rydell at the Copa 56
Bobby's Biggest Hits 12
Biggest Hits Volume 2 61
1962 An Era Reborn
All The Hits 88
1963 All The Hits Volume 2
Wild (Wood) Days
Bye Bye Birdie
The Bobby Rydell Show
1964 The Top Hits of 1963 67
Forget Him 98
1965 Somebody Loves You Capitol Records
1976 Born With a Smile P.I.P. Records
The Best of Bobby Rydell London Records
2003 A Philadelphia Christmas BCI Eclipse Records
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.

Singles discography edit

Release date Title B-side
From same album as A-side except where indicated
Chart positions Album
US Billboard[30] US AC[31] US R&B[31] UK Singles Chart[32]
1959 "Dream Age" "Fatty Fatty" non-LP tracks
"Please Don't Be Mad" "Makin' Time" (non-LP track) Bobby Sings, Bobby Swings
"All I Want Is You" "For You, For You" (non-LP track) We Got Love
"Kissin' Time" "You'll Never Tame Me" (from Bobby's Biggest Hits) 11 29
"We Got Love" b/w 6
"I Dig Girls" 46 Bobby's Biggest Hits
1960 "Wild One" b/w 2 10 7
"Little Bitty Girl" 19
"Swingin' School" b/w 5 44
"Ding-A-Ling" 18
"Volare" "I'd Do It Again" 4 9 22 Bobby Sings, Bobby Swings
"Sway" b/w 14 12 Bobby's Biggest Hits
"Groovy Tonight" 70
1961 "Good Time Baby" b/w 11 42 Bobby's Biggest Hits Vol. 2
"Cherie" (non-LP track) 54
"That Old Black Magic" b/w 21 Bobby Rydell Salutes the Great Ones
"Don't Be Afraid (To Fall in Love)" Bobby's Biggest Hits Vol. 2
"The Fish" "The Third House" (non-LP track) 25 Bobby's Biggest Hits Vol. 2
"I Wanna Thank You" b/w 21 18 Golden Hits
"The Door to Paradise" 85
"Teach Me to Twist" † "Swingin' Together" 109 45 Bobby Rydell/Chubby Checker
"Jingle Bell Rock" † "Jingle Bells Imitations" 21 40
1962 "I've Got Bonnie" b/w 18 All the Hits
"Lose Her" 69 Bobby's Biggest Hits Vol. 2
"Fatty, Fatty" "Happy, Happy" non-LP tracks
"I'll Never Dance Again" b/w 14 Bobby's Biggest Hits Vol. 2
"Gee, It's Wonderful" 109
"The Cha-Cha-Cha" "The Best Man Cried" 10
1963 "Steel Pier"
one-sided promotional single
Wild[wood] Days
"Butterfly Baby" "Love is Blind" (non-LP track) 23 All The Stars' Biggest Hits Vol. 2
(various Cameo/Parkway artists)
"Wildwood Days" b/w 17 Wild[wood] Days
"Will You Be My Baby" 114 non-LP tracks
"The Woodpecker Song" b/w
"Little Queenie"
"Let's Make Love Tonight" "Childhood Sweetheart" 98
"Forget Him" "A Message from Bobby" 4 Top Hits of 1963
(bonus 7" single)
1964 "Forget Him" b/w 4 3 13 Forget Him
"Love, Love Go Away"
"Make Me Forget" "Little Girl, You've Had a Busy Day" (non-LP track) 43
"A World Without Love" "Our Faded Love" 80 non-LP tracks
"I Just Can't Say Goodbye" "Two is the Loneliest Number" 94
1965 "Diana" "Stranger in the World" 98 23 Somebody Loves You
"Voce De La Notte" "Ciao, Ciao Bambino" (non-LP track) Forget Him
"Side Show" "The Joker" non-LP tracks
"When I See That Girl of Mine" "It Takes Two"
"The Word for Today" "Roses in the Snow"
1966 "Not You" "She Was the Girl"
"Open for Business as Usual" "You Gotta Enjoy Joy"
1968 "The Lovin' Things" "That's What I Call Livin'"
"The River is Wide" "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder"
"Every Little Bit Hurts" "Time and Changes"
1970 "It Must Be Love" "Chapel on the Hill"
1973 "California Sunshine" "Honey Buns"
"Everything Seemed Better (When I Was Younger)" "Sunday Son"
1976 "Sway" (Disco Version) "Feels Good" 27 Born with a Smile
"You're Not the Only Girl for Me" "Give Me Your Answer"
1977 "It's Getting Better" "The Singles Scene"

Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell

  • b/w = "backed with"

Selected filmography edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Bobby Rydell: Wild About Bobby A&E Biography, retrieved April 13, 2022
  2. ^ a b c d e f Summers, Kim. "Bobby Rydell". AllMusic. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
  3. ^ "Jennie Ridarelli". The Philadelphia Inquirer. January 12, 2009. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Bobby Rydell obituary". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  5. ^ Martino, Pat (2011). Here and Now!. Milwaukee Wisconsin: Backbeat Books. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-61713-027-4.
  6. ^ "Australia", Cash Box. May 7, 1960. p. 43. Retrieved April 6, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 118, 128, 165, 180. ISBN 978-0-214-20480-7.
  8. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 91. CN 5585.
  9. ^ "Music as Written: Philadelphia". Billboard. October 16, 1961. p. 10. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  10. ^ "Bobby Rydell – Chart history". Billboard. November 29, 2015. Archived from the original on November 29, 2015. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  11. ^ "Bobby Rydell Wall Mural – Wildwood Boardwalk". Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  12. ^ a b c Amorosi, A. D.; Willman, Chris (April 5, 2022). "Bobby Rydell, 1960s Pop Idol and Star of 'Bye Bye Birdie,' Dies at 79". Variety. Retrieved April 6, 2022.
  13. ^ Thompson, Anne (April 6, 2011). "Academy Premiering Digital Restoration of Bye Bye Birdie; Ann-Margret and Bobby Rydell to Attend". IndieWire. Retrieved April 6, 2022.
  14. ^ "Cameo Parkway Omits Dividend". Billboard. November 14, 1964. Retrieved August 16, 2015 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ Cogan, Brian (December 12, 2011). Debolt, Abbe A.; Baugess, James S. (eds.). Encyclopedia of the Sixties: A Decade of Culture and Counterculture. Greenwood Press. pp. 80–81. ISBN 978-0-313-32944-9. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  16. ^ Irvin, Richard (2020). The Forgotten Desi and Lucy TV Projects: The Desilu Series and Specials that Might Have Been. BearManor Media. pp. 42–3. ISBN 978-1-62933-545-2.
  17. ^ "Popular Singer Now Training at Indiantown Gap", Lebanon Daily News. August 5, 1966.
  18. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 180. CN 5585.
  19. ^ "Bobby Rydell Biography". April 26, 1942. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
  20. ^ a b c d e Pollak, Michael (April 5, 2022). "Bobby Rydell, Teenage Idol With Enduring Appeal, Dies at 79". The New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  21. ^ Bradley, Michael (May 24, 2016). "Bobby Rydell Comes Clean in His New Autobiography". Retrieved November 4, 2022.
  22. ^ Smith, Ronald P. (March 7, 2012). "Oldies Music News". Archived from the original on October 21, 2018. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
  23. ^ "60s singer Rydell gets 2 organ transplants in Pa". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. July 18, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  24. ^ a b Pollack, Michael (April 5, 2022). "Bobby Rydell, Teenage Idol With Enduring Appeal, Dies at 79". The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, 2022.
  25. ^ "Bobby Rydell, singer and Philly native known for 'Wildwood Days' dies at 79". WPVI-TV. April 5, 2022. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  26. ^ "Bobby Rydell Biography". Archived from the original on August 19, 2015. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  27. ^ Spitz, Bob (June 25, 2012). The Beatles: The Biography. Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-03167-7. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  28. ^ Hand, Bill (December 1, 2018). "Local singer is in national movie 'Green Book'". Sun Journal. New Bern. Retrieved April 6, 2022.
  29. ^ Neely, Tim, ed. (2004). Goldmine Records & Prices. Krause Publications. pp. 493–495. ISBN 978-0-87349-781-7.
  30. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010 (13th ed.). Record Research. pp. 848–849. ISBN 978-0-89820-190-1.
  31. ^ a b "Bobby Rydell – Charts & Awards – Billboard Singles". AllMusic.
  32. ^ Roberts, David (2005). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 477. ISBN 978-1-904994-10-7.
  33. ^ "Tuesday Television Programs", Chicago Tribune. October 6, 1964. Section 2, p. 10.
  34. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (October 14, 1999). "The Man Who Knew It Wasn't Only Rock 'n' Roll". The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, 2022.

External links edit