He may not be the only artist to hit the Top 40 singing in Polish, but Bobby Vinton earned the title 'The Polish Prince' through longevity and sheer talent. His string of 31 Top 40 hits spanned 14 years, and he still sells tickets to the teen girls who loved him in the 1960s and to a new generation of fans.
Born Stanley Robert Vinton in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania in 1935 (23 years after Perry Como was born in the same town), Bobby's Pennsylvania Polish roots set him apart from the many Italian crooners of the early Sixties. With a bandleader, Stan Vinton, for a father, Bobby Vinton got the support and training he needed to make the best use of his vocal talents. The band he started at age 16 earned enough to pay for part of his education at Duquesne University.
College and an Army hitch kept him from being a national teen phenomenon, but Bobby and his band appeared on Guy Lombardo's TV show, and soon Bobby Vinton had his first hit, 'Roses Are Red (My Love),' which shot to Number One in the summer of 1962. Over the course of the next two years, Bobby hit #1 back-to-back with 'Blue Velvet' and 'There! I've Said It Again,' and later with 'Mr. Lonely.' He mixed in plenty of other gems, including 'Blue on Blue' and 'I Love How You Love Me.'
Just as people began to suspect that his hit-making days were numbered, Bobby Vinton pulled 'My Melody of Love' from his bag of tricks in 1974. This #3 hit endeared him to the Polish population of the entire United States with its chorus in Polish. Though this was his last big hit, it led to a continuing relationship with the ticket-buying public in enormously popular live shows stretching from Vegas to Atlantic City and, eventually, to Branson, Missouri. Bobby now has his own venue in Branson, the Bobby Vinton Theatre. Bobby chose to pattern his new theatre building after the old Hollywood theatres, and so it is laden with murals and, of course, blue velvet curtains.
Bobby Vinton proved his artistic versatility by appearing in a pair of John Wayne films, Big Jake (1971) and The Train Robbers (1973). Another film connection developed when David Lynch chose 'Blue Velvet' as the title of his steamy 1986 film and included the song in the soundtrack, albeit not Bobby Vinton's version! Bobby Vinton had a successful run on TV as well, from 1975 to 1978. The Bobby Vinton Show showcased some of the finest musical talent of the era.
At this stage of his career, the man who has sold 75 million records and been honored by the Polish government continues to pack in ticket-holders, and he looks as good as he did when he was recording the hits that made him famous. He has received an honorary doctorate from Duquesne University, and he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, both proof of his impact on the world of music.
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