The 1960’s teen idol Bobby Rydell recently asked how come he had never been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF) on his Facebook page and the LA Music Scene found it to be such an interesting question that we had to pounce on it. It seems ludicrous that Rydell with all of his notable accomplishments would be or could be snubbed by the RRHOF.
At the tender age of nine, Rydell crept into my young female psyche with his smooth as silk voice and his incredible good looks. My main exposure to the world of contemporary music at this time was my brother Granville and his taste in music. Granville was a huge fan of Rydell’s back then and would play him constantly. I would sit outside his bedroom door and listen to and then sing along with Rydell. My brother would come flying out of his bedroom and yell at me to shut up. Guess I must have sounded as if I was howling like “Old Yeller.”
It seemed that every time the television was on there was Rydell making an appearance on some show. Rydell always seemed so polite and nice. When Rydell was nine years old, he was already playing drums professionally and by age 19 he headlined the Copacabana in New York. In fact it was as a young drummer that Rydell teamed up with future teen idols Frankie Avalon and Fabian in a group called “Rocco and The Saints.”
Rydell, Avalon and Fabian launched the “Phillie” music scene and all went on to various degrees of success as singers and actors. The girls would swoon over all of them, but it seemed that Rydell received the lion’s share of swooning adoration from his young female fans.
His 45- record covers had pictures of Rydell and he always looked so handsome and cute with a dash of the boy next door vulnerability. Maybe that was his hidden super power…boy next door vulnerability.
Rydell’s 45s netted him 34 Top 40 hits which landed him in the Top 5 artists of his era per Billboard. Rydell’s top records have sold a stunning combined total of over 25 million records. In addition, Rydell had 19 Top 40 hits and 29 songs on The Billboard Hot 100.
Rydell has also scored several films such as “Because They’re Young” with “Swingin’ School” and “Bye, Bye Birdie” where he also played the role of a teen heartthrob along side the steamy Ann Margaret.
For this Rydell fan, songs such as “Wild One,” “Volare” and “Forget Him” were the living end and I would be outside my brother’s bedroom door crooning, at least that’s what I thought I was doing, gingerly listening to every word as if it were meant for me.
Covid-19 effectively stalled Rydell’s Hollywood Walk of Fame Star that was slated for 2020. At least Rydell was one of the first 10 to be inducted into Philadelphia’s Walk of Fame on Broad Street and “Rydell High” from “Grease” was named in honor of Rydell. Always wondered about that and now we know.
The song that appears to have launched Rydell’s career was “Kissin Time” in 1959 and while appearing on “American Bandstand” to sing the song he was declared the most promising talent in the music business at the time by the show’s host Dick Clark.
There are so many more things that could be written here about Rydell’s career, but space needs to be left open for the RRHOF part. Suffice it to say that this dude is the real thing and is still going strong by touring here in the USA and abroad singing standards of blissful days of yore…until the dreadful plague came. Those “Phillie” boys can sure do it right.
As for the RRHOF…hmmm. Been pondering that issue publicly for at least one year, one year to think things over and be reminded of what was said about the 60s music pioneers on The Strip…LOVE. There was a blog written a little over a year ago on the newsletter blog “News From The Front” (NFTF) which mused about why hadn’t LOVE been inducted into the RRHOF.
Factor in the technical reasons why LOVE should have been inducted as well as the myriad of conspiracy theories and you have a jumble of Gumbo. Then there is the version that LOVE co-founder Johnny Echols has stated on numerous occasions on his social platform.
Echols is a friend or shall we say tribes person. LOVE was a rockin’ band from my formative music years whom I tried to see many times while hanging and dancing on The Strip. Problem was that I was always too late and had to stand outside with the other music lovers.
Fast forward more years than I want to admit to and we become friends through my sweet friend Georgianne Steele-Waller, 60s scenester, author, stunt double, whom I met on Facebook. Waller and Echols are a united couple that usually host a yearly Love-In at Griffith Park by the Merry-Go-Round, but was cancelled last year due to Covid-19.
Echols was very honest and outright about the real reason why LOVE would never be inducted into the RRHOF. Echols even posted it on his social platform. It turns out that the band was at a recording session when for some reason LOVE co-founder Arthur Lee made a very derogatory remark about Jann Wenner who was the RRHOF Board Chair at the time. To our knowledge Wenner has never responded to the NFTF blog which he was sent a copy of. Wenner stepped down from his controlling board seat January 1, 2020.
Wenner anointed former President of Entertainment Enterprises for iHeartMedia John Sykes. RRHOF was co-founded by Wenner and Ahmet Ertegun in 1983 Wenner is also the head of Rolling Stone Magazine. Neither of these gentlemen are business slouches and know how to broker a deal most of the time.
For Wenner, it appears that sometimes the process has been personnel and not about a band that were early pioneers of the unique sound that LOVE as a unit had created.
Their music has withstood the test of time much the same way as The Beatles have.
The same can be said of Rydell’s music. Rydell is a pioneer of the “Phillie” sound whose early roots begin in the latter part of the 50s.
Hailing from the city of brotherly love Rydell would really like to know why the RRHOF snub?
Looking back at a lot of the talent that have won an induction into the RRHOF, it has become like a patchwork quilt of so many genres that it has bubbled over the boundaries of what exactly constitutes rock ‘n’ roll.
Having said that, might it be time to rename the hall to the Music Hall of Fame?
When one takes in the voluminous amount of music genres that have been inducted into the RRHOF, it surpassed rock ‘n’ roll a long time ago. There are many that have put forward the concept that “their” music is rock ‘n’ roll when in reality it isn’t. My brother Granville used to get into heated debates over this very subject. If anyone knew what constitutes rock ‘n’ roll it was Granville since his initiation into the realm of rock ‘n’ roll began around 1955 and was his life.
Renaming the RRHOF the Music Hall of fame seems the best and safest alternative. Also on my mind is how many pioneers of various off-shoots of Rock ‘n’ roll such as Rydell and the “Philie” sound and LOVE with their progressive style of rock ‘n’ roll which I call The Strip sound have been left out of the RRHOF? If a person or band are the pioneers of any given sound like the Laurel Canyon music scene then they should be acknowledged for their contributions to rock ‘n’ roll. Just as there are “heritage” constituents among our eligible voters so should there be a “heritage” award from the RRHOF.