50’s Teen Idol Bobby Rydell Passed Away At 79

50’s Teen Idol Bobby Rydell Passed Away At 79 | Society Of Rock Videos

via Rockin' Barasi / Youtube

Bobby Rydell, a teenage idol in the late 1950s, a star of radio, television and the 1963 film “Bye Bye Birdie,” passed away Tuesday at age 79.

The Philadelphia-born singer died of complications from pneumonia at a hospital in a suburb of his hometown, confirmed by a statement from Maria Novey, a marketing and event coordinator.

His death was just days away from his 80th birthday, according to radio legend Jerry Blavat, Rydell’s longtime friend from early singing grounds, he said:

“Out of all the kids [from that era] he had the best pipes and was the greatest entertainer. He told the best stories, did the best impersonations and was the nicest guy.”

A statement on his website read:

“Bobby Rydell, legendary 1960s era singer, actor and teen idol died at the age of 79 in Abington Jefferson Hospital from non-COVID-19 related pneumonia complications.

“Loved by his fans, Rydell was known for taking time to meet and greet audiences after shows, during book signings and at private dinner events. … Rydell is survived by his wife, Linda J. Hoffman, son Robert Ridarelli, daughter Jennifer Duli and his five grandchildren. Rydell lived to be 79 years old through the gift of organ donation.”

Born Robert Louis Ridarelli in 1942, Rydell started his celebrity career after winning a TV talent show and became a regular guest. At age 16, he signed his first record deal and was later the youngest person to perform at New York’s Copacabana nightclub in 1961.

Between the late ’50s and early ’60s, Rydell scored 29 hit singles throughout his career, including “Wild One,” “Volare,” “Wildwood Days,” “The Cha-Cha-Cha” and “Forget Him,” before the rise of the likes of Elvis Presley and the Beatles. Paul McCartney once said Rydell had inspired one of the Fab Four’s songs. Rydell sold more than 25 million records in his lifetime.

Aside from musical “Bye Bye Birdie,” Rydell also had recurring roles on “The Red Skelton Show,” and other television programs. With his pleasant voice, stage presence and nice-guy demeanor, he became the epitome of an American teen heartthrob.

Rydell High School in Broadway musical and film “Grease” was named after him and he was portrayed by Von Lewis in the 2019 movie Green Book.

Eventually, Rydell’s mainstream success slipped away when he refused to move to Hollywood, but he continued to tour solo and alongside fellow Philadelphians Frankie Avalon (a former bandmate in an early group) and Fabian as the Golden Boys.

Until the recent years, Rydell continued to work had no plans to retire. He maintained a loyal following during his shows even after both he and his original fans were well past retirement age.

In his 2020 interview, Rydell said:

“We started that show in 1985, and it was a tremendous success. And I said to Frankie … ‘This is great, but how long is this going to last? A year, two years tops, it’s over.’ Well, that was in 1985, and we’re going on 2021, and we’re still doing the show. It’s amazing.

“I used to mimic everyone I saw on TV, and I started singing at a very early age. And when I was around 7 or 8 years old, my father started taking me around to nightclubs, and he would ask the club owners, ‘Is it OK for my son to get up, sing a couple of songs and do some impersonations?’ … I get up onstage, sing a couple of songs and people applauded. So, I say, ‘Wow! All I have to do is do this, and they do that?’ What a wonderful feeling.”

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