BWW Interview: A Chat with Legendary Crooner Bobby Vinton, Appearing at Agua Caliente 9/7
Bobby Vinton, the entertainer Billboard Magazine has called "the most successful love singer of the 'Rock-Era'", appears at The Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa for one very special performance on September 7 at 8:00 pm. From 1962 to 1972 Vinton had more #1 records than any other solo male artist in the country and established himself as one of America's top concert performers and most versatile entertainers. His impressive list of hits includes renowned love songs such as Roses Are Red, Blue Velvet and Mr. Lonely, among many others. His songs are recognized as standards throughout the world and his music has retained its vitality and relevance through our changing times. I had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Vinton about his career, his upcoming concert and "all things Bobby Vinton". Here are some of the highlights from that interview.
DG: Billboard magazine has called you "the most successful love singer of the rock era". How do you describe yourself?
BV: Probably the same way. You know, that's according to the numbers. A football player runs so many yards. A record is a record. And in the sixties -- they ranked all my love ballads for positions on the charts and they came up the highest. And I believe between 1962 and 1972 in Billboard I had more number one records than any male singer. So, that's something I feel very proud of.
DG: How did you get started in show business.
BV: Well, my father had a bandstand. I'm from Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, right outside of Pittsburgh, home of Perry Como - and my dad and Perry Como were boys together and they trained in the band together - in those days they used to have what they called "bandstands" - people went dancing every night. They didn't have "diets" like they have today, they went dancing to the big band sound. So, when I was fifteen years old my dad put me in his band. I went to Dusquesne University where I studied music and I started my own bandstand and I would play for all the dances in the Pittsburgh area as well as all the shows. In the early sixties when all of the top singers of the day would come to the Pittsburgh area, my band would back them up. Today everything is a group - there's three guitars and a synthesizer - so nobody needs to bring in musicians when they go to a venue. Back then, people like Connie Francis and Brenda Lee and Fabian and Frankie Avalon - all these people needed a band when they came to Pittsburgh to do a show. And that's what I would do. I would back up all the stars so I had the chance to meet everybody and I was a musical arranger so I could write all the background music for all the stars when they would come. Dick Clark met me and saw me and wanted me to be his bandleader. And so, for a lot of his Cavalcade of Stars I would go out with Dick Clark as his bandleader. So, I was really getting in the with the right people, and the next thing I know Epic Records wanted to sign me as a Big Bandleader and I was going to be the next teenage Glenn Miller. However, after two albums the record company was dropping me and they said Big Bands are over with - everybody wants to hear rock and roll and see curly haired boys who are teenage idols. And I said, "Okay, wait a minute. I got two songs -let me make a recording as a singer". I've got a song called "Mr. Lonely". I've got another song called "Roses Are Red". I said "I bet we could sell enough records to make more band albums". I had no idea that all these years later I'd still be talking about these hits.
DG: Who would you consider to be the biggest influence on your life and/or career?
BV: Oh, there's a combination of people. I don't say any one person. My father certainly inspired me with the Big Band music - my mother encouraged me. In fact, my mother bribed me twenty-five cents an hour to practice the clarinet when I was eleven or twelve years old. I wanted to play ball, like any other kid, but she said "look, you're not going to get an allowance around here unless you practice your clarinet". You wanna go to the movies? Practice the clarinet. So, my mother kind of bribed me into the business.