The Story of Bobby Rydell

If you’re a baby boomer, you’ll remember Bobby Rydell. This teen idol heartthrob – and what a cutie he was – exploded on the scene in the 1960s with hits like Kissin’ Time, Wild One, and my personal favorite, Volare.

Rydell appeared on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand in 1959, and went on to sell more than 25 million records during his career.

Bobby Rydell book coverNow 74 years old, Rydell has written an honest and compelling autobiography: TEEN IDOL ON THE ROCKS: A Tale of Second Chances. I was privileged to receive a review copy and gave the book a read over the weekend.

Baby boomers will enjoy Rydell’s memories of his childhood in South Philly back in the day when no one locked their door and the best places to meet girls was at the local ice cream parlor.

The stories about his rise to stardom at the tender age of 17 and the famous people he met along the way are also fascinating. For example, Sammy Davis Jr. wanted a homemade Italian meal and Rydell’s grandma offered to cook for them. Eager to impress, Rydell was relieved when the dinner went well, but you can feel his horror when his grandmother brings out watermelon for dessert because that’s what she thought “they liked.” Sammy couldn’t quit laughing but Rydell was mortified beyond words.

There are also fascinating stories about Dick Clark, Red Skeleton, Frankie Avalon, Fabrian, and Ann Margaret.

But what touched me the most were Rydell’s personal, brutally honest stories. He describes his relationship with his bipolar, manic depressive stage mother back in the day when little was understood about mental illness.  Rydell pours out his heart telling the story of his first love, Camille, to whom he was married for 35 years. She later suffered from breast cancer and your heart will break as you read how he felt “sheer terror” at the thought of losing her.

However, Rydell doesn’t offer these events as an excuse for his slide into alcoholism. In this day and age when stars, and people in general, play the blame game, it was so refreshing to read how Rydell takes full personal responsibility for his drinking and the dire consequences.

Readers will cheer as they read how he faced a double organ transplant and later double heart bypass surgery with admirable courage and gratitude for his second chances in life. He eloquently expresses his gratefulness to his donor, a young 21-year-old girl named Julia, who was tragically hit by a car and killed.

Rydell manages to come through all his fame and trials shining with optimism and heart as he finds a new love and makes a successful comeback. Yes, this man is still touring and you can still catch his act. If you want to purchase his book (autographed books are available), attend a book signing, or check out his tour dates, be sure and visit Rydell’s site.

 

juliegorges

Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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7 Responses

  1. Cat Michaels says:

    I did not realize he led such an up-and-down personal life, Julie. It sounds like a great retrospective on the mid-20th century rock scene, too.

  2. Laura Sposato says:

    Just purchased tickets for show in Asbury Park, NJ. Excited.

    • juliegorges says:

      You lucky girl! Just got a press release about the even that says the event will includes an intimate evenings of musical performances including Rydell’s hits songs like “Volare,” “Wild One,” “Sway,” and others, AND Rydell will share stories from his incredible life. Bobby was nice enough to do an interview for me – you can check it out on my blog tomorrow. Have fun in August!

  1. June 14, 2016

    […] man. Rydell has shared his story in his new autobiography, Teen Idol on the Rocks. You can click here to read my review of the […]

  2. June 16, 2016

    […] know I just finished reading a copy of legendary teen idol Bobby Rydell’s autobiography for a book review. I’m excited that this man, famous for hits like Volare and starring in Bye Bye Birdie, did […]

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