1960, all in all, was a good year for music. Rock and Roll was growing not only in popularity but in depth and texture as well. Up until 60' the music had been primarily rockabilly mixed with blues. In late 59 and 60 we began to hear more New York, Philly and L.A. studio mixed with it.
Now we were starting to hear additions like doo wop, jazz and pop. That pop is what leads us to Bobby Rydell. He seemed to combine all the previous influences and make his own version of the music. It worked. His record sales proves it.
Here is another Philadelphia claim for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Bobby Rydell, Grease's Rydell High, was named after him, even sang a song about the community of Wildwood. Maybe there was something to that fellow's suggestion that the Hall should be located there.
Speaking of record sales I should comment on another change which would help rock and rollers sell records. No longer were they being kicked off the Opry and having a hard time getting records played on radio, just the opposite. Radio and a ready base of fans were eager to hear new artists. But perhaps more importantly Television welcomed the rock and rollers as full fledged members of the entertainment content product. Now the formerly shunned music was booked on shows developed around the genre. Examples were Pat Boone and Dick Clark's nationally syndicated shows. It seemed every city with a television station had some local host with his own dance show. Things were right for quick exposure.
The one thing no one in any part of show business expected to happen, happened. A second Elvis like revolution hit rock and roll just about ten years after it started. Everything changed. Established hitmakers couldn't sell records. People who were running on a string of top 10's couldn't chart better than a top 50. The Beatles and the British Invasion stopped Bobby Rydell's promising career just four years into his highly popular series of hits.
It wasn't just Bobby's career. It was the last of the American dominance of rock and roll. That might not be a bad thing but it sure felt like a death knell to a lot of studio's and established rockers in this country. Bobby Joe Tucker, a great American philosopher, once told me that 1964 was the year the music died. He said it tongue in cheek so I expect he was talking about his own music business not the industry in general.
Bobby Rydell is a great example of how the numbers went south. In 1959 he had four hits in the Top 50
1960 he had 6 in the Top 20
1961 he had 7 hits with 4 in the Top 25
1962 he had Three in the Top 20 and two more on the charts.
1963 he had Two in the Top 25 and two more on the charts
1964 he had a #4 then it started dropping with three more above 40.
1965 he had one #98
From that point on his charting career was over.
I have looked at many careers since I started blogging this music subject. Invariably it's the same. There is pre 1964 and then there is post 1964.
No wonder all these "teen idols" felt like they went from hero to zero over night. They did.
As high school kids we enjoyed Bobby Rydell. As college freshmen, we enjoyed the Beatles. Nobody realized what we were losing. It's just the way it was. Bobby is still performing regularly. If you go to the web site link below it will tell you when and where he will be performing. He is still very popular and draws great crowds.
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