Bobby Rydell


Early 60s teen idol and Grease school namesake Bobby Rydell has died at 79. Among a phalanx of clean-cut lads, usually from Philly, who dominated US radio waves before the Beatles fundamentally restructured the listening populace’s tastes, his early ability on the drums brought him a regular TV spot aged 9. Picked up several years later by the same label that signed Chubby Checker, Rydell mainly deployed a swingy style on kinda-catchy-if-fairly-cheesy records such as “Wild One” and “Good Time Baby”. He also crooned on hits such as “Forget Him” and a cover of “Volare”, and portrayed Ann-Margret’s boyfriend in Bye Bye Birdie.

Rydell was most closely associated with fellow Philly teen idols Frankie Avalon and Fabian, childhood friends who toured for the past 30 years as the “Golden Boys” nostalgia act. None of the three have an illustrious spot in music history, but Rydell was a cut above the other two. While Avalon and Fabian typically sang as if they were half asleep, Rydell had more natural musicality and you could sense he was having fun on his recordings. He even influenced the very artists who knocked him off the charts – Paul McCartney has said a Bobby Rydell song (sources vary as to which) sparked the idea that eventually became “She Loves You”. He wasn’t essential era listening or on par with the proper rockers, but you could do far, far worse as far as teen idols go.

After his teen idol days were over, Rydell was a mainstay of nightclubs and in 2014, a mural of him was painted in Wildwood, New Jersey in honour of a song he did about the city. Quite the Wild One himself, he was no stranger to the bottle and almost died of his alcoholism in 2012. A liver and kidney transplant saved him from the brink and he promptly sobered up, but a decade later the Reaper has clipped his wings, yeah yeah, and things, whoa whoa whoa whoa. 60s-geared pop/rock theme Shake, Rattle, Roll Over and Play Dead was the only one to not Forget Him in the DDP and gains unique points.

Bobby Rydell
26 April 1942 – 5 April 2022, aged 79
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