Born in 1935, Bobby Vinton was a pop singer who generated 30 Top 40 songs in the 1960s and 1970s, and 24 of his albums made the Billboard Top 200. Vinton's love songs had particular appeal to young fans, but later in his career he was able to adjust his style to appeal to adult audiences. Vinton later became known as "The Polish Prince" due to the musical homage he paid regularly to his heritage.
Singer. Born Stanley Robert Vinton on April 16, 1935 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Growing up in the same hometown that produced Perry Como, Vinton showed an early musical interest in the Big Band sound that sprang from his father's work as a bandleader in the Pittsburgh area. As a child Vinton played clarinet, then the trumpet in a band he formed in high school. He first began singing at the urging of other members of his high school group, but his primary musical interest at the time was in band direction. While attending Duquesne University, Vinton further pursued bandleading, forming a combo that played at college functions and dances in the Pittsburgh area.
During service in the army Vinton continued playing trumpet in a military band. As soon as he was out of uniform he got together another band that was later selected to perform on a variety show for NBC. Dick Lawrence, a popular disc jockey in Pittsburgh, was impressed by Vinton's voice and made some demo tapes of the singer's work. Eventually, the tapes made their way to CBS Records, and Vinton was offered a contract with the company's Epic label in 1960. Vinton was managed in his early career by Allen Klein, who later took the helm for the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Vinton had an uneventful start with Epic, recording two albums of band music that generated minimal interest. Seeing no future in the young performer, Epic was about to let him go when Vinton noticed that his contract allowed him to record two more songs. When he told Epic that he wanted to sing the songs, the company was skeptical at first, but finally gave him the okay.
Equipped with an angelic voice and singing sincere songs about undying love, Vinton surprised everyone by generating 30 Top 40 songs in the 1960s and 1970s, and 24 of his albums made the Billboard Top 200. Vinton's romantic love songs had particular appeal to young fans, but later in his career he was able to adjust his style to appeal to adult audiences. He had remarkable staying power for a teen idol, continuing to record songs that registered on the charts for well over a decade. After topping the charts with "Roses Are Red" in 1962, he reached the top position again in 1963 with his version of "Blue Velvet," which had been recorded by the Clovers in 1955, and "There! I Said It Again." In 1964 he topped the Hit Parade with "Mr. Lonely," a song he co-wrote with Gene Allen that became his personal favorite. As a result of his success, Vinton said goodbye to his band and remained a solo act.
Young fans made up the core of Vinton's audience, and they eagerly bought up his recordings of heartrending love ballads. Timing was part of the formula for Vinton's popularity, since pop music was in a lull in the early 1960s. The doo-wop music of the 1950s had run its course, the Beatles' "British invasion" had yet to occur, and fresh new idols for music fans were in short supply. When the Beatles and other English bands arrived in the United States in the mid-1960s, however, they generally undercut the popularity of gentle crooners like Bobby Vinton.
Nevertheless, Vinton continued to stay on the charts with songs such as "Please Love Me Forever" in 1967 and "I Love How You Love Me," which made Number One in 1969. Although he was still listed in many Top 20 polls for favorite male vocalists at the end of the 1960s, by 1971 his career had leveled off, and he had become a regular on the hotel and nightclub circuit. He bounced back in 1972 with covers of old songs such as "Sealed With a Kiss," which had been a hit for Brian Hyland in 1962.
Epic began to regard Vinton as a fading star, and the singer ended his 13-year pact with the company to sign a new contract with ABC Records. Much to Epic's dismay, Vinton brought ABC a gold record in 1974 with the Top Ten single "My Melody of Love," which included some lines in Polish. His popularity again bolstered, Vinton got his own syndicated television series, The Bobby Vinton Show, which remained on the air from 1975 to 1978.
No longer a teen idol but retaining the loyalty of former teen fans who had since grown up, Vinton became known as "The Polish Prince" due to the musical homage he paid regularly to his family's heritage. Vinton stayed active performing in Las Vegas, oldies concerts, and other venues during the 1980s. While other stars who were his peers during his early days as a pop sensation had long faded from the scene, he managed to stay active and retain a loyal following.
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