From his vivid childhood on the fabled streets of South Philadelphia to his reign as the Justin Bieber of the “Camelot” era, his battles with alcoholism and his lifesaving double-transplant surgery, multitalented entertainer Bobby Rydell has traveled a compelling journey in the music industry and beyond.
He chronicles those travels in a critically acclaimed autobiography, Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances. Rydell “has unbelievable stories to tell, and he’s sharing the good, the bad, and the fascinating,” says Parade Magazine — and he'll be telling those stories and more at 92Y in conversation with Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis. He will also be singing some of his favorite songs — and demonstrating why he is as excited about performing for his fans as he has ever been and deeply grateful for the opportunity to do so.
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- Bobby Rydell
Bobby Rydell’s career spans six decades and encompasses every area of the entertainment world. His debut in the late ‘50s as a rock and roll teen idol lead to starring roles in such hit films as Bye Bye Birdie and plays such as West Side Story. Bobby has made countless network TV appearances throughout the world on shows like Ed Sullivan, Jack Benny, George Burns, Milton Berle, Perry Como and of course American Bandstand. He was also a semi-regular on The Red Skelton Hour for many years. Working with the “greats” of comedy, Bobby was able to develop an uncanny comedic gift.
Bobby has earned a reputation as a classic performer. Not only is he a superb singer whose voice has gotten better over the years – he has proved to be an outstanding drummer, an agile dancer and an extremely fine actor, with an unsurpassed knack for comedy.
A polished performer at the age of 19, he was the youngest person ever to headline the famous Copacabana in New York. Bobby’s recording career earned him 34 Top 40 hits, placing him in the Top 5 artists of his era (Billboard Magazine). Bobby’s hits include million selling singles “Volare,” “Wild One,” “We Got Love,” “Kissin’ Time,” “Swingin’ School” and “Forget Him,” selling a combined total of over 25 million records.
Today Bobby enjoys a career that is full. He has a busy schedule throughout the world as a headline solo act. Australia has welcomed him for 20 tours Down Under, where he continues to be a favorite performer. Bobby also performs regularly in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. For the past 25 years, Bobby has also performed over 700 shows in the must-see production called The Golden Boys. This is a happy, fun-filled look back at a simpler time in music history with his childhood pals, Frankie Avalon and Fabian.
Bobby Rydell’s influence on popular music has been profound. When the producers of Grease wanted to pay tribute to the era in which the popular musical was set, they named the high school where most of the action took place “Rydell High” in his honor. Recently, Bobby appeared with Ann-Margret at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences premiere of Bye Bye Birdie’s digital restoration at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills.
In 1995, his hometown of Philadelphia, PA renamed the street he was born “Bobby Rydell Boulevard.” The City of Philadelphia sponsored “block party” followed dedication ceremonies. Quite a tribute to a City’s favorite native son! Wildwood, NJ also has a street named for Bobby in appreciation of Bobby’s massive hit, “Wildwood Days.”
On July 9, 2012 Bobby underwent a double organ transplant. He received 75 percent of a liver and one kidney. His life was about to end when the generous family of a dying child saved eight lives by organ donation. Bobby returned to the stage in Las Vegas in just six months, turning near tragedy to triumph. Today he is dedicated to public awareness, spreading the word to the world, in his travels, about the Gift of Life thru organ donation.
The teen idol, now a seasoned performer, continues to perform to sell out audiences throughout the world. As a review of a recent performance put it, “Bobby Rydell is a true American music treasure.”
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- Anthony DeCurtis
Anthony DeCurtis is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone and a Distinguished Lecturer in the creative writing program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a Grammy Award winner, and the co-author of Clive Davis's autobiography The Soundtrack of My Life, which was a New York Times bestseller. He is currently writing a biography of Lou Reed for Little, Brown.
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