Bobby Vinton

  • Pop singer and songwriter born Stanley Robert Vinton in 1935 in Canonsburg Pennsylvania.
  • Vinton started to appreciate music as a boy – his parents gave him a quarter everyday after he practiced the clarinet. His father was a popular bandleader in the Pittsburgh area. Bobby formed a band at the age of 16, and he used the money he earned to go to college, graduating with a degree in musical composition and learning to play piano, saxophone, trumpet, drums and oboe. As he became more popular locally, Vinton’s father – also named Stanley – recommended that his son perform using his middle name.
  • Inspired by Elvis Presley, Vinton decided to make a career of music. He started his own record label in 1958, called Bobby Records. His first release, credited to the Bobby Vinton Orchestra, was an instrumental titled Twilight Time, with a B-side titled Hallelujah that included vocals by Vinton. He recorded several other singles with other record labels in 1959 and 1960 – nothing charted, but he began to be noticed locally.
  • After serving in the military, he appeared with his band on Guy Lombardo’s TV Talent Scouts program, and soon after he was signed to a record label as an orchestra leader. Two albums released in 1961 failed to sell, and singles from the album also were not successful. His record company was ready to drop him, but he reminded them that his contract called for one more release. He found a song in the reject pile of the record company, and he recorded Roses Are Red (My Love) in early 1962. He promoted the single himself, buying 1,000 copies and hiring a woman to deliver it along with a rose to local DJs. It was a hit, topping the Hot 100 chart and topping charts in five other countries. Soon, he had a new contract with the record company, as a solo artist.
  • This began a prolific run of albums and singles during the 60s. He released 17 albums from 1962 to 1969, reaching #1 on the Hot 100 three more times with Blue Velvet, There! I’ve Said It Again and Mr. Lonely. There! I’ve Said It Again was knocked out of the #1 spot by the Beatles’ I Want To Hold Your Hand – the beginning of the British Invasion. Other notable hits were Blue On Blue, Please Love Me Forever and I Love How You Love Me. Despite the British Invasion, Vinton managed to have 16 top-ten hits after the Beatles’ first #1 hit.
  • Vinton entered the 70s still making top 40 hits, notably Sealed With a Kiss, which peaked at #19 in 1972. Despite this, his record label dumped him. Vinton believed that he still could be successful, and in 1974 he spent $50,000 to record and promote a song that he adapted from Germany. The refrain of the song used lyrics that alternate between English and Polish – “Moja droga, ja cię kocham, Means that I love you so. Moja droga, ja cię kocham, More than you’ll ever know. Kocham ciebie całym sercem, Love you with all my heart.” My Melody of Love spent two weeks at #3 on the Hot 100 and it topped the Adult Contemporary chart, earning Vinton the nickname “the Polish Prince.” The success of the song led to an album released with the same title, which peaked at #16 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The album included one final top 40 hit in 1975 – Vinton’s version of The Beer Barrel Polka reached #33.
  • Vinton continued to record, with eight more albums from 1974 to 1979 and six more after that. In total, he released 38 studio albums and 88 singles, plus numerous compilations and live albums. In 1975, he hosted a television variety, The Bobby Vinton Show, that had a three year, 52 episode run. He published his autobiography The Polish Prince in 1978, reaching the best seller list. In the 90s, he performed at the Roy Clark Theater in Branson Missouri, unsure that he would be successful in a country music venue. His concert was a huge success, and ultimately he decided to open his own theater, the Bobby Vinton Blue Velvet Theater, investing millions of dollars. He sold the theater in 2002. He continued to perform until 2015.
  • Bobby Vinton was one of those early 60s teen idols that people scorned as rock and pop music evolved, but ultimately a nostalgic public embraced his work. The 1990 film Goodfellas has a scene where an actor portrays Vinton singing Roses Are Red at the Copacabana club – the actor in the film is Vinton’s son Robbie Vinton, lip-syncing his father. Here’s Bobby singing it on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand in 1962.

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