In Memoriam: Bobby Rydell (1942 -2022)

Bobby Rydell (born Robert Louis Ridarelli; April 26, 1942 – April 5, 2022) was an American singer and actor, who mainly performed rock and roll music. In the early 1960s he was considered a teen idol. His most well-known songs include “Wild One” and “Volare” (cover); he appeared in the movie Bye Bye Birdie in 1963.

Rydell was the son of Jennie (Sapienza) and Adrio “Al” Ridarelli. In 1950, he won a talent show on the television series Paul Whiteman’s TV Teen Club and gained a spot in the cast, where he remained for several years. He changed his name to Bobby Rydell and played in several bands in the Philadelphia area. After three unsuccessful singles for small companies, he signed a recording contract with Cameo Records. After a couple of flops, “Kissin’ Time” reached the charts in 1959. In May 1960, Rydell toured Australia with The Everly Brothers, Billy “Crash” Craddock, Marv Johnson, The Champs, and The Crickets, recording an Australian version of “Kissin’ Time” for the event.

His second success, “We Got Love”, was his first million-album seller, gaining gold disc status. “Wild One”, backed with “Little Bitty Girl”, was his second million-selling single; his successes continued with “Swingin’ School” backed with “Ding-A-Ling”, and the million-album selling Volare later that year. He performed at the Copacabana in New York City in 1961, where he was the youngest performer to headline at the nightclub. In February 1961 he appeared at the Festival du Rock, at the Palais des Sports de Paris in Paris, France.

Rydell was married to his first wife, Camille Quattrone Ridarelli, from 1968 until her death in 2003, and they had two children. He married Linda Hoffman in 2009. Rydell was a longtime resident of Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, and lived in the same house there from 1963 to 2013.

Rydell cancelled a 2012 Australia tour because his health had deteriorated significantly and he was in need of urgent major surgery. On July 9, 2012, he underwent a double organ transplant to replace his liver and one kidney at Thomas Jefferson University in his hometown of Philadelphia. In January 2013, six months after double transplant surgery, Rydell returned to the stage in Las Vegas for a three night engagement to a sold out audience. He continued to perform internationally and returned to tour Australia in 2014.

Rydell died from complications of pneumonia at Abington Jefferson Hospital on April 5, 2022, at the age of 79.