Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an eight year old Robert Ridarelli won a talent contest on a local television series and gained a spot on the cast. He changed his name to Bobby Rydell and later sang in several bands in the Philadelphia area. "Kissin' Time," his first single, charted in 1959, and before long he was a million-selling teen idol. He had 34 Top 40 hits, including "Wild One" and "Volare" in 1960, and he co-starred in the movie musical Bye Bye Birdie in 1963. The British Invasion in 1964 revolutionized the pop world, however, ending Rydell's string of hits and relegating him forevermore to the supper club circuit. An autobiography, Bobby Rydell: Teen Idol on the Rocks, hit bookstores on May 4, 2016.
Bobby Rydell tonight headlined one of Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swings, performing his old hits plus standards from the Great American Songbook with the City Rhythm Orchestra. Couples of all ages danced as the now 74-year-old sang hits like "Sway" and covered songs by Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin. Despite a bout with alcoholism in his youth and more recent liver and kidney transplants, Rydell looked handsome and belted his songs with a rich, soaring voice. Despite heart surgery and a hip replacement, the stylish, dapper singer glided across the stage, working the audience much like he did 50 years ago. After all these years, Rydell's signature song, "Volare," had the baby boomers singing, dancing and even swooning. More than 50 years after his heyday, Rydell is still a class act.
Rydell will participate in an "In Conversation" session with Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis at the 92Y on July 27. He will sing accompanied by a grand piano, and will sign copies of his book.