‘Bye Bye Birdie’ Star Bobby Rydell Dead At 79

Wikimedia Commons, By Ahmet Yalçınkaya

1960’s teen idol Bobby Rydell, known for chart toppers “Wild One” and “Volare,” died of pneumonia at the age of 79, just weeks shy of  his 80th birthday on April 26.

Rydell’s Facebook page confirmed that the singer died from non-COVID-19 related pneumonia complications at Jefferson Hospital, just outside of his hometown, Philadelphia, on April 5.

The singer rose to fame after he was discovered in 1950 as an 8-year-old, when he won a televised talent show and became a regular performer on “Paul Whiteman’s TV Teen Club.”

He scored his first chart ranking single “Kissin’ Time” in 1959, and spent 17 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 with his second single “We Got Love” the same year. 

Rydell’s second round of singles in 1960 were even more successful, with “Volare,” “Wild One,” and “Swingin’ School” all charting in Billboard’s top five.

The teen heartthrob went on an international tour with the Everyly Brothers in 1960, and became the youngest singer to perform at New York City’s famed Copacabana club at 19-years-old. 

Rydell broke into Hollywood, when he was cast opposite Dick Van Dyke, Ann-Margret, and Janet Leigh in the 1963 musical “Bye Bye Birdie,” which would be his most successful acting role amongst a series of television and film projects. 

The clean cut teen star went on to record 34 Billboard singles and sell 25 million records, but lost heat during rock’s British Invasion, and never managed to top the music charts after 1965. 

Despite his star fading, Rydell continued to perform for the rest of his life and joined up with fellow Philadelphia teen icons of the era, Frankie Avalon and Fabian, under the stage name The Golden Boys. 

He said that their act was “a tremendous success,” but told Avalon he was worried about the group’s longevity. 

“I said, ‘[Avalon], this is great, but how long is this going to last? A year, two years tops, it’s over,’’ Rydell said in a recent interview. “Well, that was in 1985, and we’re going on 2021, and we’re still doing the show. It’s amazing.”

The trio had been planning a tour for the spring and summer of 2022, prior to Rydell’s passing.

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