Bobby Rydell

Bobby Rydell’s real name is Robert Louis Ridarelli. He grew up in the same Italian neighborhood of South Philadelphia as Frankie Avalon and Fabian. He was born April 26th, 1942. In his early years, Bobby would sit in front of the TV and impersonate performers such as Milton Berle, Louis Prima, and Johnny Ray. Early on, Bobby’s father recognized his talent and encouraged him to pursue a career as an entertainer. While other children were listening to the latest hits, Rydell’s father would take him to the performances of the last of the big bands working in the various Philly clubs.

Enjoy the following clip of Bobby singing Volare, one of his signature hits.


With the inspiration of Gene Krupa Bobby started taking drum lessons at age five. At the age of seven, he had begun working the nightclubs in Philadelphia. At the age of nine, he was a regular on Paul Whiteman’s television show that was broadcast from Philadelphia and he had performances on the show for three years. It was during this time that Whiteman changed Bobby’s last name to Rydell, because he had trouble pronouncing Ridarelli.

By the time he was a teenager, Bobby was playing drums in a dance band called “Rocco and the Saints”, that featured Frankie Avalon on the trumpet. During the summer the band did performances in a few resorts around Atlantic City. Rydell also played the guitar and bass and was a natural comedian. Frankie Day (manager of Rocco and the Saints) became interested in Rydell as a solo act. Day began taking Rydell to different record companies.

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