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One of the most sought-after nightclub and concert acts in the country, Bobby Rydell's interest in show business began at the ripe age of four. His performance in Bye Bye Birdie and his recordings "Wild One" and "Volare" made him a famous show business performer of the '60s. Rydell used his talents as an impersonator and drummer mostly in pursuing a musical career rather than an acting career.
Bobby Rydell was born Robert Ridarelli in Philadelphia. It was his father who encouraged him to pursue a career in show business. At the age of four, Rydell would sit in front of the TV and impersonate such performers as Milton Berle, Louis Prima and Johnny Ray. He also admired drummer Gene Krupa and began playing the drums at the age of six. At the age of seven and with his father's encouragement, Rydell began performing in nightclubs in Philadelphia.
In 1950, Bobby Rydell entered the amateur show of Paul Whiteman; his first-place win gained him a regular part on the show. He stayed with the Whiteman show for three years and then went to join several local bands in Philadelphia. It was here too that Bobby Ridarelli became the easier-to-pronounce Bobby Rydell. At 16 he began playing with local groups, landing a spot as a drummer for Rocco and the Saints. (Frankie Avalon, another Philadelphia-born musician, played trumpet for the group.) While with the band, Rydell signed a recording contract with Cameo/Parkway Records in Philadelphia. His hit "Kissin' Time," recorded in the summer of 1959, launched his musical career and made him a teen idol at the age of 17.
After making his first hit recording, he pursued a solo career, performing at the Copacabana in New York in 1961, where he was an instant hit. Rydell made his acting debut in 1962 on the television show Combat! One year later, he starred as Hugh Peabody in the famous musical Bye Bye Birdie. It was only after his acting debut that he fervently began playing the nightclub circuit.
With records like We Got Love, Wildwood Days and Sway, Rydell made himself a hit. Along with Frankie Avalon and Fabian, Bobby Rydell is known as a Philadelphia-born teen idol, known not only for his musical genius but also his handsome looks.
Bobby Rydell (born Robert Louis Ridarelli, 26 April 1942, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American professional singer, mainly of rock and roll music. In the early 1960s he was considered a teen idol. Well known tracks include "Wild One" and "Volare", and he appeared in the movie Bye Bye Birdie in 1963."Biography by Kim Summers". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
In 1950, Rydell won a talent show on the television series Paul Whiteman's TV Teen Club and gained a spot on the cast, where he remained for several years. He changed his name to Bobby Rydell and played in several bands in the Philadelphia area. He signed a recording contract with Cameo Records. "Kissin' Time", his first single, reached the charts in 1959. In May 1960, Rydell toured Australia with The Everly Brothers, Billy "Crash" Craddock, Marv Johnson, The Champs and The Crickets, recording an Australian version of "Kissin' Time" for the event.
His second success "We Got Love" was his first million-album seller, gaining gold disc status. 1960's "Wild One," backed with "Little Bitty Girl", was his second million-selling single; his successes continued with "Swingin' School" backed with "Ding-a-Ling," and the million-album selling "Volare" later that year. He performed at the Copacabana in New York in 1961, where he was the youngest performer to headline at the nightclub. In February 1961 he appeared at the Festival du Rock, at the Palais des Sports de Paris in Paris, France.
Rydell's success and prospects led his father Adrio, foreman at the Electro-Nite Carbon Company in Philadelphia, to resign in 1961 after 22 years to become his son's road manager.
Rydell released the song "Wildwood Days" in 1963. In 1963, he played Hugo Peabody in the movie version of Bye Bye Birdie with Ann-Margret and Dick Van Dyke. The original stage production of Bye Bye Birdie had no real speaking role for the character of Hugo, but the movie script was rewritten specifically to expand the part for Rydell. In 2011, Sony Pictures digitally restored this film. Rydell and Ann-Margret were in attendance at the restoration premiere in Beverly Hills by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
During the 1960s, Rydell had numerous hit records on the Billboard Hot 100 record chart. His recording career earned him 34 Top 40 hits, placing him in the Top 5 artists of his era (Billboard). These 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.
During this time, he performed on many television programs, including the Red Skelton Show, where a recurring role was written for him by Red Skelton as Zeke Kadiddlehopper, Clem Kadiddlehopper's younger cousin. He also appeared on the Danny Thomas Show, Jack Benny, Joey Bishop, and the George Burns show. Rydell was a regular on The Milton Berle Show.
On October 6, 1964, he made a guest appearance on an episode of the television series, Combat!. This was Rydell's first dramatic acting role.
In January 1968, it was announced in the UK music magazine NME that Rydell had signed a long term recording contract with Reprise Records company. He continued to perform in nightclubs, supper clubs and Las Vegas venues throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but his career was hampered by Cameo-Parkway catalogue owner ABKCO Records' refusal to reissue Rydell's music, so the entire catalog was unavailable until 2005 (although he re-recorded his hits in 1995 for K-Tel Records).Cite error: The named reference AMG was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 118. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 128. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 91. CN 5585. Billboard, October 16, 1961, p. 36 Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London, UK: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 165. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London, UK: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 180. CN 5585. "Bobby Rydell bio at". OLDIES.com. 1942-04-26. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
Rydell continued to perform as a solo act and has toured as part of The Golden Boys stage production since 1985 (with Frankie Avalon and Fabian). However, Rydell cancelled his 2012 Australia tour because his health had deteriorated significantly and he was in need of urgent major surgery. In July 2012, he underwent a double organ transplant to replace his liver and kidneys at Thomas Jefferson University in his hometown of Philadelphia. In January 2013, six months after double transplant surgery, Rydell returned to the stage in Las Vegas for a three night engagement to a sold out audience. He continues to perform internationally and he returned to tour Australia in 2014.Ronald P. Smith (2012-03-07). "Oldies Music News". Retrieved 2012-03-07. "60s singer Rydell gets 2 organ transplants in Pa.".
In both the Broadway musical drama Grease and the film Grease, the high school was named "Rydell High" after Rydell.
In 2000 in the book, The Beatles Anthology (pg. 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).Biography at BobbyRydell.com (Official Site) Spitz, Bob: "The Beatles: The Biography 2005.
† Chubby Checker and Bobby RydellJoel Whitburn, Top Pop Singles 1955-2008. 12th edn, 2009, pp. 848-849. "Allmusic ((( Bobby Rydell - Charts & Awards - Billboard Singles )))". Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 477. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.