Man about town: Dylan Jones

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The Independent Online

"Beyond The Sea" was the "Stairway to Heaven" of its day, beginning quietly, almost casually, and then building into something of a euphoric crescendo. Bobby Darin's swinging version is one of the greatest singles of its year (1959), a record that sounds as wistful today as it probably did when it was released.

The song "La Mer" was originally written by Charles Trenet, just after the end of the Second World War, although the English lyrics weren't written until a few years later (by Jack Lawrence). Trenet's version was an ode to the changing moods of the sea; all Lawrence had to do to turn it into a torch song was add the word "beyond". Darin's version is a visual journey that hints at the possibilities of redemption.

Darin was born Walden Robert Perciville Cassotto, in 1936, in the middle of the Bronx ("My crib was a cardboard box"). A sickly child, rheumatic fever left him with a weak heart (he had to be given oxygen during his performances).

He had hits with anodyne pop such as "Dream Lover", but it will be for his version of Kurt Weill's "Mack the Knife" and "Beyond the Sea" that he will be remembered.

On 11 December 1973, Darin entered Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in LA for surgery to repair two artificial heart valves he had received in a previous operation. Eight days later, a five-man surgical team worked for over six hours to repair his heart. Darin died minutes afterwards. He was 37.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'