Vinton, Bobby (actually, Stanley Robert)

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Vinton, Bobby (actually, Stanley Robert)

Vinton, Bobby (actually, Stanley Robert), popular singer of romantic songs from the 1960s; b. Canonsburg, Pa., April 14, 1935. His father led a band, and Bobby Vinton had visions of working with a big band even as the genre faded into nostalgia. He earned a degree at Duquesne in musical composition while supporting himself in various bands. By the end of his matriculation, he could play piano, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, drums, and oboe. An appearance by his band on Guy Lombardo’s TV show earned him a four-week run on the program, which in turn got him a contract with Epic Records.

Vinton’s earliest records featured big band versions of contemporary hits. Not needing an instrumental act, Epic asked Vinton to sing. His first single, “Roses Are Red,” proved him a palatable and profitable vocalist. It topped the pop and adult contemporary charts for four weeks in the summer of 1962, going gold. He followed this with the #12 “Rain Rain Go Away.” Several minor Top 40 hits followed this, but just about a year after his first chart topper, he went to #3 with “Blue on Blue.” This was followed by one of his most enduring hits, “Blue Velvet,” which topped the pop charts for three weeks and spent eight on the top of the adult contemporary charts during the summer of 1963. His next big hit, “There, F ve Said It Again,” also topped the charts for four weeks, topping the adult contemporary charts for five. Tellingly, it was knocked out of the #1 position by the Beatles’s “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

Vinton’s jejune love songs continued to succeed, however, long after the other “boy singers” faded before the British Invasion. In the spring of 1964, he was all over the airwaves with “My Heart Belongs to Only You,” which went to #9. He followed this with the #13 “Tell Me Why.” The success of these songs might have, in their own way, reflected the rise of rock. The four aforementioned hits covered previous hits from the late 1940s and early 1950s. The Beatles spoke to “the kids.” Vinton’s string-heavy pledges of puppy love played for romantic adults.

The late fall of 1964 found Vinton atop the charts again with “Mr. Lonely,” his fourth Top 40 hit (and second Top Ten) of the year. With this, he became the male vocalist with the most #1 hits during the first ten years of the rock era. Although only the follow-up “Long Lonely Nights” broke the Top 20, Vinton landed another four Top 40 hits in 1965, totaling 17 Top 40 records in three years. This streak slowed down for a bit in the mid-1960s, although he did make the Top Ten with “Please Love Me Forever.” He hit a stride again in 1968, landing yet another four Top 40 hits including “Take Good Care of My Baby” and the gold #9 “I Love How You Love Me.” By the summer of 1972, when he hit #19 with his version of “Sealed with a Kiss,” Vinton had put a remarkable 28 songs into the Top 40.

While still a popular performer at casinos and cabarets, Vinton started his second decade as a star by failing to chart for the first year since “Roses Are Red.” He staged a brief comeback in 1974 with the polka- flavored “My Melody of Love.” He sang one verse of the song in Polish, endearing him to people of his ancestry. He became known as the Polish Prince (which became the title of his autobiography). The song rose to #3 and went gold. He followed it with a version of the “Beer Barrel Polka” that provided his final Top 40 hit in 1975. However, he remains a major attraction on the casino and cabaret circuit, with the occasional oldies tour as well. In the late 1970s, he had his own CBS-TV variety show. He tried to launch another one in syndication during the mid-1980s. “Blue Velvet” rose back onto the pop culture radar when filmmaker David Lynch used it as the theme to his film of the same name. When Branson, Mo., began to become an entertainment destination, he opened the Blue Velvet Theater, which continues as a thriving enterprise.


Dancing at the Hop (1961); Young Man with a Big Band (1961); Bobby Vinton Sings the Big Ones (1962); Roses Are Red (1962); Live at the Copa (1962); Blue Velvet (1963); Mr. Lonely (1964); Tell Me Why (1964); There! I’ve Said It Again (1964); Bobby Vinton Sings for Lonely Nights (1965); Drive- In Movie Time (1965); Country Boy (1966); Satin Pillows and Careless (1966); Please Love Me Forever (1967); I Love How You Love Me (1968); Take Good Care of Her (1968); Vinton (1969); My Elusive Dreams (1970); Ev’ry Day of My Life (1972); Sealed with a Kiss (1972); With Love (1974); Melodies of Love (1974); Heart of Hearts (1975); The Bobby Vinton Show (1975); The Name Is Love (1977); Great Songs of Christmas (1990); A Very Merry Christmas (1994); Kissin Christmas: The Bobby Vinton (1995); Branson City Limits (live; 1998).

—Brock Helander