As an avid record buyer, it was pretty exciting for me to get hold of a copy of the new Bobby Rydell memoir, “Teen Idol on the Rocks,” which has to be, with little doubt, one of the better music memoirs I’ve read in some time. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Rydell– he’s a hot-damn singer from Philadelphia who had a string of hits in the early 60’s which included records such as “Wild One,” “Volare,” and “We Got Love.” You can hear his version of “Wild One” above by clicking on the video. Albums of his material can be found online, including a fantastic album recorded at the Copa in New York.
But just because the boy can sing, it doesn’t necessarily mean he can write. Well, be shocked, surprised or just plain happy that he writes well, with conviction and his memoir is an exciting read. From fame, fortune, to alcohol he lays himself bare at the feet of his reader and really allows the reader to get inside the head of one of the most famous men of his time.
“Teen Idol on the Rocks” is a book you can really get your teeth into. If you’ve ever wondered about the successes and stresses of being the top singer of the moment, you will find this book to your liking. Now, how did I discover the book? I saw an interview with Rydell recently, which I will link to below. I have chosen to take the segment of the interview that really sold the book to me and reproduce it on here with a link to the full interview. Read the words below and you try turning down reading the book. If you do turn it down, you may have made a mistake…
Why did you choose to title it “Teen Idol on the Rocks”?
“Actually Allan came up with that title because it has different meanings to it about career – so on, so forth. And of course the problem I had with the drinking and became an alcoholic due to all of that drinking.”
Yeah, and I was going to say the same thing: It holds the meaning of troubled times for a teen idol …
“Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You know, like I said: A couple of different meanings, as far as career is concerned, you have your ups, your downs, your peaks, your valleys, your lows, your highs, you know? And then, of course, when my first wife passed away, that was … we got married in 1968. We were married for 36 years and she passed away via breast cancer in 2003. So, I mean, there was a tremendous void in my life and nobody to lay down in bed with, nobody to talk to, nobody to smile with, laugh with, relate stories to.
“And, you know, I turned to drink. And vodka became a very, very dear friend – to the point where, a few years later, it led to a double transplant. A new liver and a new kidney, because of all of the drinking.”
Yeah, and I wanted to touch on both of those things. Was it difficult for you to be so revealing about the problems you had with alcohol?
“No, not at all! And I hope a lot of people who possibly have the same type of problem will possibly learn from the book. There are quite a few people that when they wrote the review, said, ‘I wish he would have expounded more, you know, on his alcoholism. Well, maybe that will be another book, if God spares [Laughs.]
“But no, it wasn’t hard to talk about at all. The two things that we difficult to talk about in the book was, No. 1, the passing of my wife. And No. 2, my mother. That was, you know … but once again, I wanted the book to be brutally honest.”