Bobby Rydell death: Fifties teen idol and Grease inspiration dies, aged 79

Singer died from non-Covid related pneumonia conditions

Maanya Sachdeva
Wednesday 06 April 2022 06:35
<p>File photo: Bobby Rydell at a press reception in London on 17 February 1961</p>

File photo: Bobby Rydell at a press reception in London on 17 February 1961

Fifties teen idol Bobby Rydell died from non-Covid related pneumonia complications on Tuesday (5 April) at Philadelphia’s Jefferson Hospital, his spokesperson confirmed. The “Wildwood Days” singer was 79.

Remembered for hits including “Volare” and “Swinging School”, Rydell also appeared in the 1963 movie Bye Bye Birdie with Dick Van Dyke and Ann-Margret.

In a tribute to his friend, fellow Philadelphia native and legendary radio performer Gerald Joseph “Jerry” Blavat remembered Rydell as someone who “told the best stories, did the best impersonations, and was the nicest guy”.

“Out of all the kids [from that era], [Rydell] had the best pipes and was the greatest entertainer,” Blavat added.

Rydell High School in the Broadway musical and subsequent Seventies film adaptation was named after the singer as a tribute to his era-defining star power.

Rydell had called the decision to name the Philadelphia school where the iconic romantic-comedy was set a “total honour”.

Rydell, whose real name is Robert Louis Ridarelli, was born in Philadelphia on 26 April, 1942. The American pop star’s death came just days before his 80th birthday.

He began playing the drums at the age of six, and started performing professionally in local nightclubs the following year.

After he won a US television talent show Paul Whiteman’s TV Teen Club, Rydell began a three-year stint singing with the show’s on-air crew. He was also performing with local bands including Rocco and the Saints, with fellow South Philly resident, friend, and trumpeter Frankie Avalon.

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

Over his 60-year career, Rydell has hit the Billboard Hot 100 charts 34 times with “Wild Ones” peaking at No 2 in 1960 – a year after Rydell signed with Philadelphia’s Cameo Records.

His rendition of “Volare”, which was released in 1961, climbed to the No 4 position on the charts.

The same year, he also became the youngest performer to headline New York’s famous Copacabana nightclub.

In his 2016 memoir, titled Bobby Rydell: Teen Idol on the Rock: A Tale of Second Chances, Rydell opened up about suffering from alcoholism for a brief period after his first wife Camille Quattrone Ridarelli died from breast cancer in 2003.

The singer underwent liver and kidney transplants in 2012 over his struggles with alcohol abuse.

Ridarelli and Rydell shared two children – Jennifer and Robert – together.

After his first wife’s death, Rydell married Linda Hoffman in 2009.

In an interview with Morning Call in 2016, Rydell reflected on his legacy, saying he was “happy and blessed” to be able to do what he loved over his life.

“It’s going to be six decades since, my God, 1959, when I had my first hit record. And  I’m so happy and blessed that I’m able to do, once again, what I truly love. And it’s been my life, once again, since like seven years old.”

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol addiction, you can confidentially call the national alcohol helpline Drinkline on 0300 123 1110 or visit the NHS website here for information about the programmes available to you.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in