See '60s Teen Idol Bobby Rydell Now at 79
The singer is still performing today with two other retro stars.
If you need proof of how popular singer Bobby Rydell was in the late '50s, just look to the musical Grease—the high school in the play and movie was named in his honor. Towards the end of that decade and into the '60s, Rydell was a teen idol and one of the most popular musicians around. He had hits with songs including "Kissin' Time," "Wild One," and a cover of "Volare," and was also an occasional actor, who had a role in Bye Bye Birdie. But, as the '60s continued on, Rydell's career slowed down thanks to new rock and roll bands like the Beatles.
But, just because he was no longer at the height of his popularity, Rydell didn't stopped performing. In fact, the former teen idol is still singing live to this day and tours with some other big names of the '60s. Read on to learn more about Rydell's life and career at 79 years old.
He's in a group with two of his fellow crooners.
Rydell's last hit came in the mid-'70s when he released a disco cover of the song "Sway." But he still does shows for fans nostalgic for his music. Rydell performs with two of his contemporaries, Frankie Avalon and Fabian. The three are all from South Philadelphia and knew each other as kids. Now, they tour as The Golden Boys.
"We started that show in 1985, and it was a tremendous success," Rydell told From the Mixed Up Files in 2020. "And I said to Frankie, and I called him Cheech, because in Italian, Frank is Cheech. I said, 'Cheech, this is great, but how long is this going to last? A year, two years tops, it's over.' Well, that was in 1985, and we're going on 2021, and we're still doing the show. It's amazing."
Rydell has also performed both solo and with other musical acts, like he did in the show Stars of the Sixties.
He wrote a book about his life.
Rydell's book, Bobby Rydell: Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances, was published in 2016 and was written with Allan Slutsky. During an interview with The Morning Call in 2016, Rydell said that for years people had encouraged him to share stories from his life, but he didn't think anyone would be interested.
Eventually, "I said, 'Well, if I'm gonna sit down and talk with anybody, it's gonna be Allan. So we sat down—Allan came to my home—and we sat down close to two years and I just poured my heart out. And I think the book reveals that. It's very, very—it's brutally honest. It's very truthful, very sincere. And I'm very, very pleased with the way the book came out."
He's dealt with some personal struggles.
In 2012, Rydell received a liver and kidney transplant that was necessary because of his alcoholism. He told The Morning Call that his drinking became heavier after his lost his wife of 35 years, Camille Quattrone Ridarelli, in 2003. "I turned to drink," he said. "And vodka became a very, very dear friend—to the point where, a few years later, it led to a double transplant. A new liver and a new kidney, because of all of the drinking." Rydell referred to the transplant as one of the "second chances" mentioned in his book title. He also said he was relieved that his voice was still fine after the surgery, because he'd had tubes in his throat, but he was able to start performing again after six months.
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Rydell married his second wife, Linda Hoffman, in 2009. In his interview with From the Mixed Up Files, he shared a story about his wife discovering some of his old work. "We're watching TV, and flipping through channels, and all of a sudden, Bye Bye Birdie," he said. "And I don't know if my wife ever watched the whole movie, but we left it on, and she says, 'Oh my God, look at you. What happened?' [Laughs] Every once in a while when it's on, I'll give it a glimpse."