First Place – Entertainment – San Diego Press Club – 2022
Remembering “Golden Boy” Bobby Rydell
April 5, 2022 was one of the saddest days of my life. I received the news that my favorite singer, who I had met on more than one occasion, had passed from this world. At that moment, I felt a wrenching in my soul. The singer had melted my heart with his endearing grin and caramel-coated voice for 60 years, beginning when I was eight. Bobby Rydell lit up stages and hearts for 72 of his 79 years. For all of the accolades that had been showered upon him, Rydell maintained a humble demeanor.
Bobby Rydell (Robert Louis Ridarelli) was born April 26, 1942, and died from complications of pneumonia on April 5, 2022.
Even in elementary school, I was enamored of Bobby Rydell – his voice and his eyes that sparkled when he smiled. I remember sitting cross-legged on my bedroom floor listening to his records on my portable phonograph. I was 10 when “Forget Him” hit the top 10 chart as #4. It is still one of my favorite Rydell songs, along with “Toys,” and “Volare.”
I have been privileged to hear him in concert several times, and speak with him on three occasions. In 1985, a friend set up a private post-concert meeting with Rydell. I was nervous, and couldn’t possibly hide the fact that I was in awe of him, but my favorite singer set me at ease by asking me questions about my own life. He seemed genuinely interested. After that, it didn’t take long for us to start chatting like old friends.
In 1986, a friend encouraged me to bring one of my Bobby Rydell albums to a concert. My friend and I sat in the front row, and, after the concert, Rydell signed the album. So, what is one of the treasures in my fire evacuation box? The album signed, “Love Ya – Bobby Rydell.”
In 2008, through the kindness of his agent, I was able to interview Rydell after a concert. The singer was professional, but at ease. He was gracious, and answered my questions in a thoughtful manner. He didn’t rush me. It was like interviewing an old friend. He told me that his favorite songs are “Forget Him” and “Volare.” The songs “Wildwood Days” and “Sway” also made the list. “Wildwood” was a favorite because of the fond memories he had of his grandmother’s boarding house near the beach in Wildwood, New Jersey. He said liked “Sway” due to the rhythm. The interview left me with a warm feeling. After my article was published, Rydell liked it so much that he posted it on his website.
Rydell not only toured as a solo act, but he joined two other “teen idols” – Frankie Avalon and Fabian – touring as the “Golden Boys.” I first saw the group in the 80’s at Circle Star Theater in San Francisco, then at Pala Casino in 2014.
The Pala concert was the last time I saw Bobby Rydell perform. His voice was as smooth as ever.When he sang I could tell he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. During the Pala concert, he sang his repetoire of hits in the same rich, caramel tone that I remembered from previous concerts.
I had tears in my eyes a few times, especially when Rydell shared about how his life had been saved by an organ donor. He then challenged the audience to “Be an organ donor – it is the gift of life.”
When Rydell sang the haunting “Forget Him,” my eyes began to glisten as I recalled my school days playing the beloved song over and over.
Rydell gestured with outstretched arms when he sang his second gold record, “Volare,” “No wonder my happy heart sings, your love has given me wings…” Then, he added something that left the audience spellbound…He sang, “People – your love has given it wings.” Before Rydell left the stage, he told the audience, “I thank all of you for the Gold records, and for the many years of support.”
Bobby Rydell possessed a gracious demeanor both on and off the stage. I am grateful that my life was enhanced by the music of this kind and gentle entertainer. Bobby Rydell has left us, but he is still my “Golden Boy.”Continue Reading