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Bobby Vinton's roses might be red, but he's true 'blue'

June 12, 2009|By KELLY MORENO

When my mother first asked me to go with her to see her favorite singer in concert, I wasn't exactly thrilled at the prospect.

Bobby Vinton's music was for her generation, not mine. My musical tastes run more to light rock from the late '70s and the '80s. I generally only go to a concert when I really, really like the artists -- Hall and Oates, James Taylor and, of course, my favorite musician, Billy Joel.

Mom attended a Billy Joel concert with me once. She likes most of his music, but the song "Piano Man" makes her cringe. In fact, at one point during the concert, she said, "I wish he'd do 'Piano Man' so I can go to the ladies room." Just then, Billy started playing the song. Mom stood up, said "Thank you!" and hurried off to the ladies room.

So since Mom was willing to see my favorite singer with me, I figured it was my turn to accommodate her. In the past, my grandmother would go with her to see Bobby Vinton's shows, but since Grandmother's gone, I saw it as my duty as a good daughter to keep Mom company this time.

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Mom invited my younger brother also, but Doug's immediate response was "No, thanks. I'll pass." Doug likes heavy metal and guitar rock from the '80s, so since it was highly unlikely that Bobby Vinton would cover AC/DC or Eric Clapton songs, Doug wasn't interested.

Mom and I sat in the second row at the Bobby Vinton concert. I knew all of the songs, since Mom played his albums often while I was growing up. I was especially pleased when he sang Mom's favorite, "Blue Velvet".

I must say, at 74, the man still has a great voice, and I was especially impressed by his musical versatility. Quite proficient in playing band instruments, he demonstrated his skill with the clarinet, saxophone and piano.

His pretty daughter and good-looking son were in his band, too. Obviously, there are good genes in that family.

When he introduced his song "Mr. Lonely", which he wrote while he was in the Army, he had all the veterans in the audience stand up so we could applaud them.

Predictably, when Bobby sang his hit "Roses Are Red," some of the ladies in the audience handed him red roses. Mom was lucky enough to be one of them, and she even got a hug from Bobby.

After the show, I politely approached his son, Robbie, and asked him to give his father a picture that my mother had copied from my father's 1957 yearbook, showing Bobby Vinton's band playing at Washington & Jefferson College in Mom's hometown of Washington, Pa. This led to us actually meeting Bobby.

We talked with him for a few minutes, and I informed him that "Roses Are Red" was the No. 1 song in the country on the day I was born. If this made him feel old, he didn't show it. He was very gracious, and autographed my mother's copy of his book. He even reached out his hand to my mother and thanked her.

On the way home, I joked with my mother that we were now certified groupies. I said, "All we have to do now is meet Billy Joel, and we can both die happy women." Mom laughed. I commented that Grandmother would have been thrilled about the events of the evening.

Mom noted that Grandmother had been with her at every other Bobby Vinton concert she'd gone to. I said, "Well, I think she was with you this time, too - only this time, she has better connections."

According to Wikipedia, from 1962 through 1972, Bobby Vinton had more Billboard No. 1 hits than any other male vocalist, including Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

After 50-plus years of performing, Vinton still is going strong. You have to admire that kind of diligence and confidence, particularly in the highly competitive music industry.

Bobby Vinton has proved to be a multitalented musician, the ultimate professional and a true gentleman -- true "blue," you might say.

Kelly Moreno is an editorial assistant at The Herald-Mail.

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