Bobby Rydell, one of the quintessential teen idols of the early rock era, died Tuesday, April 5, 2022. He was 79.
Rydell, who survived a double-organ (liver and kidney) transplant in 2012, succumbed after a bout with pneumonia just shy of his 80th birthday.
His great, radio announcer Jerry Blavat, confirmed Rydell's death, writing on social media, “Out of all the kids, he had the best pipes and was the greatest entertainer. He told the best stories, did the best impersonations and was the nicest guy.”
He was so synonymous with that '50s sound that what else could they name the school in the Broadway show and movie Grease but ... Rydell High School?
Born April 26, 1942, in Philadelphia, he became a sensation as a teenager, logging over 30 Top 40 hits.
Most famously, he sang the #2 smash "Wild One" (1960) and the #5 hit "Swingin' School" (1960), the latter of which Paul McCartney confirmed inspired himself and John Lennon to write "She Loves You" (1963).
His other Top 10 hits included "We Got Love" (1959), "Volare" (1960), "The Cha-Cha-Cha" (1962) and his final Top 40 hit, "Forget Him" (1964).
The youngest-ever performer at NYC's fabled Copacabana in 1961, he churned out million-selling hits and followed it up with a winning performance as Hugo Peabody in the hit movie adaptation of Bye Bye Birdie (1963).
He continued performing, but was quickly outpaced by the British invasion.
In 1976, he enjoyed his only chart success of the past 50 years via a disco version of his song "Sway," a #27 Adult Contemporary hit that to my 2022 ears sounds like a smash that got away.
Battling a legal morass with the label that owns his early hits, he nonetheless performed continuously up until his decline, popping up at oldies shows and clubs till the very end.