The spotlight is on Bobby Vinton also nicknamed "The Polish Prince" due to
his Polish ethnic background. Vinton's love for music started at an early age as his parents who gave
him his weekly allowance of 25 cents after practicing his clarinet.
He formed his first band at the age of 16 and played around the
clubs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His hometown of Cannonsburg named two streets in his
honor,Bobby Vinton Boulevard and
the shorter adjoining Bobby Vinton Drive.
After two-years service in the U.S. Army, when he served as a
chaplain's assistant, Vinton was signed to Epic Records in 1960 as a bandleader: "A Young Man With a Big Band". The
break for the Epic Records contract came after Vinton and his band appeared on Guy Lombardo's TV Talent
Scouts program. Two albums and several singles were not successful however, and with Epic ready to pull
the plug, Vinton found his first hit single literally sitting in a reject pile. The song was titled "Roses Are Red
(My Love)". Vinton had to do his own promotion for the song; he bought 1,000 copies and hired a young woman to
deliver a copy of the record and a dozen red roses to every local disc jockey. It spent four weeks at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Arguably, his
most famous song is 1963's "Blue Velvet", originally a minor hit for Tony Bennett in 1951, that also went to
Bobby Vinton on Shindig December 2,
Twenty-three years later, David Lynch named his movie Blue
Velvet after the song. In 1990, "Blue Velvet" climbed to the top of the music charts in Great Britain, after
being featured in a Nivea commercial. In 1964, Vinton had two #1 hits, "There! I've Said It Again" (a #1 hit in
1945 for Vaughn Monroe) and "Mr. Lonely". Vinton wrote "Mr. Lonely" during his chaplain's assistant service in the
U.S. Army in the late 1950s. The song was recorded during the same 1962 session that produced "Roses Are Red" and
launched Vinton's singing career. It was released as an album track on the 1962 Roses Are Red (and other songs
for the young & sentimental) LP. Despite pressure from Vinton to release it as a single, Epic instead had
Buddy Greco release it and it flopped. Two years and millions of records sold later, Bobby prevailed on Epic to
include "Mr. Lonely" on his Bobby Vinton's Greatest Hits LP. Soon DJ's picked up on the song and airplay
resulted in demand for a single release. "Mr. Lonely" shot up the charts in the late fall of 1964 and reached #1 on
the charts on 12 December 1964. Epic then released the LP Bobby Vinton Mr. Lonely, giving the song a unique
claim to fame since it now appeared on three Bobby Vinton albums released within two years. The song has continued
to spin gold for its composer in the 45 years since it hit #1.
Noteworthy is the fact that Vinton continued to have big hit
records during the British Invasion, scoring 16 top ten hits, while Connie Francis, Ricky Nelson, the Shirelles and
other major artists of the early 1960s struggled to reach even the Top 30.
In 1965, Vinton continued his "Lonely" success streak with the
self written "L-O-N-E-L-Y". "Long Lonely Nights" peaked at #12 and spawned an album, Bobby Vinton Sings for
Lonely Nights. Vinton's self written 1966 hit, "Coming Home Soldier", was a favorite on request shows on the
American Forces Network during the Cold War and Vietnam era, often called in by soldiers about to board the Freedom
Bird that would take them back to the "Land of the Round Doorknobs". 1967 saw Vinton's lush remake of "Please Love
Me Forever" reach #6 and sell over a million copies. His 1968 hit, "I Love How You Love Me", surged to #9, sold
over one million copies, and was awarded a gold record by the RIAA.
In the 1970s, the "Polish Prince" continued to hit the Top 40,
notably with "Ev'ry Day of My Life", produced by Jimmy "The Wiz" Wizner and CBS recording engineer Jim Reeves,
which peaked at #24 in January, and "Sealed With a Kiss" hitting #19 in June, 1972. The next year, Epic Records
decided to drop Vinton from his contract (despite the notable success of these two hits), claiming that his days of
selling records were over. Undeterred, Vinton spent $50,000 of his own money on a self-written song sung partially
in Polish: "My Melody of Love". The suggestion for the song came from Vinton's mother. After Vinton was turned down
by six major labels, ABC Records bought Vinton's idea, and the result was a multi-million selling single that hit
#3 on the Hot 100, #2 on the Cashbox Top 100 chart, and #1 on the AC chart in 1974. A gold album, Melodies of
Love, followed as well as more Top 40 pop hits ("Beer Barrel Polka" and "Dick And Jane" in 1975), a successful
half-hour variety show The Bobby Vinton Show (which aired from 1975 to 1978), which used "My Melody of Love"
as its theme song; ABC Records subsequently released an album of songs performed on the show. In 1978, CBS TV aired
Bobby Vinton's Rock N' Rollers a one hour special that achieved top ratings. Earlier in the decade, he also
starred in two John Wayne movies: Big Jake and The Train Robbers.
Billboard Magazine called Bobby Vinton "the all-time most
successful love singer of the 'Rock-Era'". From 1962 through 1972, Vinton had more Billboard #1 hits than any other
male vocalist, including Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. In recognition of his recording career, Bobby Vinton has
a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6916 Hollywood Blvd.