Bobby Rydell, a pompadoured early rock ‘n roll heartthrob from Philadelphia, died on Tuesday.
According to a statement released by his marketing and event planner Maria Novey, Rydell died of complications from pneumonia at Jefferson Hospital.
Rydell, who attributed a kidney and liver transplant in 2012 to extend his life, died at the age of 79.
Rydell was one of a wave of harmless adolescent idols who arose after Elvis Presley and before the rise of the Beatles, like James Darren, Fabian, and Frankie Avalon.
On March 12, 1962, singer Bobby Rydell of Philadelphia, Pa., is seen aboard a luxury liner in New York City after arriving from Europe.
He had over three dozen Top 40 songs between 1959 and 1964, including “Wild One,” “Volare,” “Wildwood Days,” “The Cha-Cha-Cha,” and “Forget Him,” a song about a heartbroken girl that influenced the Beatles’ classic “She Loves You.”
He had recurrent parts on “The Red Skelton Show” and other television shows, and “Bye Bye Birdie” was revised in 1963 to include Rydell as Ann-boyfriend. Margret He didn’t want to move to Hollywood, so “Birdie” became his last important film role – albeit his high school was named after him in the classic 1970s musical “Grease.”
Rydell spent most of his life in Philadelphia and never traveled far from his roots. In 1995, his community has renamed the block of 11th Street where he grew up Bobby Rydell Boulevard.
Robert Ridarelli was born in the same South Philadelphia neighborhood as adolescent idols Darren, Fabian, and Avalon. Rydell played drums with Avalon on trumpet in a band named Rocco and the Saints when they were kids.
Rydell cut his teeth as a kid in Philadelphia bars before gracing the pages of adolescent magazines and appearing on movie screens.
He made his stage debut as a drummer, not a singer, at the age of seven. His father, Al Ridarelli, gave him his first drum kit as a gift after taking him to see Gene Krupa perform.
He made his debut on an amateur television show when he was nine years old, and stayed on as the show’s regular drummer for three years.
Rydell’s big break came in 1959 when he appeared on “American Bandstand,” which was initially broadcast from Philadelphia. “Kissing Time,” his first hit, followed swiftly, and the slender 17-year-old with a pompadour hairstyle shot to fame.
Dick Clark, the host of “Bandstand,” saw Rydell and his other Philadelphia performers as excellent candidates for making rock n’ roll appealing to both young and elderly. On a tour organized by Clark, he also made live appearances across the country.
Rydell and his colleagues’ hit-making careers were defused by changing musical preferences ushered in by the Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion, and he continued to perform and record songs with limited success throughout the late 1960s and 1970s.
However, in 1985, he reunited with his old buddies Avalon and Fabian for a few appearances. The trio nicknamed themselves “The Golden Boys of Bandstand,” and their performances were so popular that they toured for three years and performed 300 events around the country.
The anthem for the popular South Jersey hamlet is the 1963 megahit “Wildwood Days.” Wildwood continues to play Rydell’s song to greet tourists to the beach resort to this day.
“Bobby Rydell was someone I had the pleasure of meeting several times.
A consummate entertainer and, above all, a true gentleman. He never lost his beginnings, despite his prosperity. He was a huge fan of Wildwood. May every day be a Saturday night and every night be a holiday. Wildwood’s favorite son, may you rest in peace “On Tuesday night, Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron stated.
Those who knew Rydell say he never forgot his roots and was always willing to give back to his community.