He'll never be 'Mr. Lonely'

June 05, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

Bobby Vinton known for his hits such as "Roses Are Red" and "Mr. Lonely" was top of the charts in the 1960s.

Vinton chatted with The Herald-Mail about his Saturday, June 6, performance at the H. Ric Luhrs Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, Pa.

Here are a few conversations with Vinton that didn't make it into the print version of the interview.

Bobby Vinton on his early break:

"I went to Duquesne University (in Pittsburgh). I received a degree to be a teacher in a high school band. But before doing all of that, my band was becoming popular in the area. We were playing at all the high schools in the area, all the dances and the ballroom in the Pittsburgh area. Come the early '60s, Dick Clark had these big rock 'n' roll shows traveling across the country. He heard about this kid who could write the music for a big band and accompany his singers."


He ended up on the road with Clark.

"I use to back up Connie Francis, Brenda Lee and Chubby Checker, the early stars of the early '60s. When they went on tour they would use my band. So I go to be with the big-time people, even though I was living in Catonsburg, (Pa.) I was around people with No. 1 records and going to all these big venues only because I was the saxophone player who could lead the band for them. And so now I want to put out a band album and I want to become the teenage Glenn Miller."

Handling success at such a young age:

"I was overwhelmed. I didn't know what was going on. ... I see all of these young people today going crazy, being insecure. It was bigger than I was. Could it last? You're telling me there are all these great singers and artists in America and I'm No. 1? That was hard to believe. I became bigger than I could imagine to be. It was a great thrill. It's almost like a dream now. I could hardly remember it happening. Did this really happen? I'm looking at all my gold records on the wall while I'm talking to you and I say it must have really happened."

Having a purposeful, varied career:

"I always knew I'd make it in show business somehow, as an agent, a publicity agent. I prepared for it. I went to college. I tried to do everything right in my life. I didn't do drugs. I've never even smoked a cigarette. Never even drank. I did everything so it would work. I planned it. I just didn't do anything stupid. It wasn't that I was that bright, it's just that I wasn't that dumb.

"Even today, I'll get there ahead of time. I have new music, I'll rehearse it. If I don't think I'll do the best show these people ever saw, I won't do it. I don't do it for the money anymore, I do it because I love music, I love to entertain and I love to surprise the people who aren't expecting the show to be as good as it is.

"Once you see the show, you'll understand why I've been around."

Vinton starred along John Wayne in two movies, 1971's "Big Jake" and 1973's "The Train Robbers." Vinton talks about working with the Duke:

"He was an unbelievable person. A lot of stars I've met over the years are kind of disappointing. They don't live up to what they were supposed to be. He was even more of a great person than his image and his movies.

"I had so much respect for him. I believe I'm a better person just for being around him. You find someone you respect and idolize, he certainly was that man.

"He used to call me the Kid. In fact, in 'The Train Robbers,' he came to me and said, 'We really don't have a scene together, do we? I think we should have a scene together.'

"He went to the writer and director and said 'Put a scene in for me and the Kid.'

"They said, 'Come on Duke, we're over budget and over time.'

"He screamed, 'Put -- a -- scene -- in -- for -- the -- Kid!'

"There's a scene in there only because he liked me so much. He said, 'If you want to become a serious actor it would probably help with other parts. I know you like music and you'd rather do that.' That's the kind of guy he was. That scene didn't belong in there. ... He put that in only for me. How many movie stars would do that today? Do you think George Clooney would do that for somebody?"

Getting the same feeling being on stage today:

"Even more so today, because, when you're going, you think it's going to last. When it's happening, you don't appreciate it, it's like youth itself. Do you think kids 16, 17 enjoy being young and beautiful?

"God, I'm a lucky guy. I'm coming on stage and thousands of people are cheering for me. I can still do this. So many of my friends are gone, not even alive. I do a medley as a tribute to the people I've worked with from ... Bobby Darin to ... Roy Orbinson, who aren't even with us anymore.

"I'm just lucky to be here singing and performing."

What music means to Vinton:

"It's my whole life. It was for a long time. I was in love with music and it was in love with me. It was like a love affair we had. It's gone, it's cold. It's like I got jilted and they left me. But I'm grateful for my decade and I was as popular as I was."

Last words::

"I don't want a legacy. I want to be cremated and sprinkled on the beach where the beautiful girls in bikinis are walking by. I want them to step on me. I don't want to be in a graveyard with bugs biting me. I want to be on the beach.

"It's over with. If you have anything good to say to me, say it now. Don't say it to me when I'm dead. It'll be too late and it won't do me any good."

For the original story abot Bobby Vinton, read Royalty arrives

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