Bobby Rydell, a 60s teen idol and Bye Bye Birdie star, has died at the age of 79

Andrew Dalton

Bobby Rydell, a rocked heartthrob of early rock ‘n’ roll who was the star of radio, television and the movie musical “Bye Bye Birdie”, died on Tuesday.

Rydell, who lived in Blue Belle, has died from complications from pneumonia at Abington Hospital, according to a statement issued by its coordinator for marketing and activities, Maria Novaya.

Rydell, who admitted that a kidney and liver transplant in 2012 extended his life, was 79 years old.

Along with James Darren, Fabian and Frankie Avalon, Rydell was among the wave of healthy teen idols that emerged after Elvis Presley and before the rise of The Beatles.

Between 1959 and 1964, he had nearly three dozen Top 40 singles, including “Wild One”, “Volare”, “Wildwood Days”, “The Cha-Cha-Cha” and “Forget Him”, a song of consolation. for a deprived girl. it helped inspire the Beatles classic “She Loves You”.

He had repeated roles in The Red Skelton Show and other television programs, and the 1963 Bye Bye Birdie was rewritten to cast Rydell in the lead role as Anne Margret. However, he did not want to move to Hollywood, and “Bird” became his only significant role in the film – although in his honor was named Lyceum in the hit musical of the 70’s “Grease”.

Rydell never strayed from his roots in Philadelphia, living in the area most of his life. The 11th Street block where he grew up was christened Bobby Rydell Boulevard in his hometown in 1995.

“I never considered myself a celebrity,” he told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2003. “I was just a guy who came out and worked.”

He was born to Robert Ridarelli in South Philadelphia, where teen idols Darren, Fabian and Avalon also came out. They knew each other as children – Rydel played drums with Avalon on trumpet in a band called Rocco and the Saints.

Before he graced the covers of teen magazines and movie screens, Rydel as a child made his bones in Philadelphia clubs.

Debuted as a 7-year-old drummer, not a singer. His first drum set was a gift from his father Al Ridarelli, who inspired his son to choose an instrument by bringing him to a performance by Gina Krupa.

At the age of 9 he made his debut on an amateur TV show and for three years became his regular drummer.

Rydel got a big break in 1959 on “American Bandstand”, which was originally broadcast from Philadelphia. His first hit “Kissing Time” soon followed, and the skinny 17-year-old guy with the “Pampadour” hairstyle became famous. Rydell and his fellow performers from Philadelphia were perfect for Dick Clark, the host of “Bandstand,” who sought to make rock ‘n’ roll enjoyable for young and old. He also performed live across the country on a tour organized by Clark.

The changing musical tastes caused by the Beatles and the rest of the British invasion devastated the career of Rydel and his compatriots in creating hits, and he continued to perform and record music with limited success in the late 1960s and 1970s. But in 1985, he joined his old friends Avalon and Fabian for what they thought would be a few performances. They called themselves the “Golden Boys of Pop” and the shows were so successful that the trio eventually toured for three years and performed 300 concerts across the country.

“We were not going to prove anything. We just said to ourselves, “Here are three Italian kids from South Philadelphia who were born and raised two blocks apart. Let’s go and have fun, “Rydel told The Atlantic City Weekly in 2006. “It hasn’t changed. I think people see that attitude from the stage. Watching an interesting show is what made it so successful. We have a great time. “

Camilla, Rydel’s childhood lover and first wife, died in 2003.

He is survived by his second wife Linda Hoffman, whom he married in 2009, as well as son Robert Ridarelli, daughter Jennifer Doolin and five grandchildren.


Former AP employee Joan Lovillo contributed biographical material to this report.


Follow AP Entertainment writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton

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