Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Don't You Cry Now

Forget Him - Bobby Rydell

Teen idols get short shrift.  Male pop singers from the late fifties and early sixties - after Elvis was inducted into the Army and before the Beatles conquered America - are often overlooked.  Fabian, Frankie Avalon, Brian Hyland - good looking, clean cut guys who sang catchy if simple love songs.  Paul Anka and Neil Sedaka, who wrote their own songs, are perhaps better known for their 1970s comebacks than for their teen years.

In any musical genre, there are records that are disposable and others that work magic on open-minded ears, to coin an odd phrase.  So it goes with the output of the original American idols.

My favorite song by one of these artists is Bobby Rydell's "Forget Him."  Yes, he was another young, handsome fellow from Philly who sang songs aimed at young girls, but he had (and has) the best set of pipes in his peer group.  Something in the combination of strength and vulnerability in his voice on the lines "So don't you cry now, just tell him goodbye now, forget him and please come home to me" charms me every time.

34 Top 40 hits.  Streets named after him in Philadelphia and in Wildwood, NJ.  The high school in "Grease" bears his name.  A starring role in "Bye Bye Birdie."  Fifty years of touring the globe.  And he still takes the time to graciously answer my questions - look for them and for video of "Forget Him" below the fold.

1 - Bobby, you began your career as a drummer.  Did you play on "Forget Him" or any other songs after you'd become a singing star or was it strictly vocals?

NO, strictly vocals although I do play at jam sessions with friends when ever I can.

2 - Is it true that "Forget Him" was recorded in England?  It seems you were ahead of the curve there.

Yes, it was recorded in England.  Just before the Beatles made it big.  In fact whille on tour in England the Beatles boarded our tour bus (they wanted to meet ME)!

Also, their manager wanted to get a demo of theirs in the hands of my record label (Cameo).  My manager carried it back to Philadelphia for them and Cameo turned it down, said it was too pricey.  The rest is history... the demo was "She Loves You"

3 - Speaking of which, the Beatles wrote "She Loves You," one of the most important songs in pop history, after listening to "Forget Him" and trying to compose an answer to it.  Had you heard anything about this before the Beatles Anthology included that story in the late 1990s?  

No, I'd never heard this before, what a compliment.  

4 - After nearly 50 years of singing a song, no matter how great it is, how do you keep it fresh?

Just have to love what you do, I always said when the day comes that I get tired of it I should just hang it up; that day hasn't come.

5 - At the time you recorded it, did you have a specific girl in mind?  As a teen idol, you probably didn't have too many problems getting a date.

No, not at all.  When we were on one of my tours in England my manager was presented with the song (written by Tony Hatch who also wrote songs like "Downtown" for Petula Clark).  We fell in love with the song, what can I say?

6 - "Forget Him" peaked at #4 on the pop charts and turned out to be the last in your very long string of Top 40 hits.  Did you have any inkling at the time of the overwhelming impact that the British Invasion was going to have on American music?  

Not at all, I don't think anyone did.

7 - What do you personally like best about "Forget Him"?

I like where it lets me go vocally; very sweet lyrics from the heart of the guy.

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