Dion DiMucci and Bobby Rydell are our cover subjects photographed in 1984 for this episode. The two former teen idols were at the top of their game in the 50’s and 60’s and are a big part of American music history.
Dion DiMucci is a Bronx-born Italian-American singer/songwriter who perfected his craft singing on street corners. He pulled three of his best buddies to back him up in a group called The Belmonts.
Dion was the master of the doo-wop sound. Churning out 30 top hits in the late 50’s and early 60’s, he is best remembered for “The Wanderer,” “Runaround Sue,” and later “Abraham, Martin and John.”
While performing with The Belmonts in an all-star concert in Clear Lake, Iowa, he was asked to board a plane for the next stop on the tour. Dion decided he didn’t want to spent the $38 for the flight and that decision saved his life.
On February 3, 1959-“The Day the Music Died”- Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper and others were killed in the plane that he passed up.
Dion’s autobiography “The Wanderer” tells of his battle with heroin addiction. He had been an addict since his teens.
In early 1960, he checked into a hospital for treatment for the first time.
When he returned to music as a solo artist he had another string of hits including “Runaround Sue” which reached number 1 in 1961.
A few years ago, Dion’s wife Susan DiMucci was asked if she was the inspiration for the song. She said the only place she runs around is in the Publix Supermarket.
However, in an Oprah Winfrey interview, the DiMuccis admitted the song was indeed about Sue being disloyal to Dion when they were dating.
In 1979, Dion revealed he became a born-again Christian but he returned to Catholicism-the religion of his youth- in the late 1990s.
Today, Dion has a prison ministry and counsels men through addiction and recovery. Dion was indicted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
Dion has been married to his wife Susan since 1963. They split their time between Boca Raton, Florida and NYC. They are the parents of 3 children.
Robert Louis Ridarelli who changed his name to Bobby Rydell was another Italian-American teen idol at the time. His inspiration came from the street corners of South Philadelphia. There must have been something in the water because the same neighborhood also produced teen idols Frankie Avalon and Fabian. Earlier artists from the same city blocks include Al Martino, Mario Lanza and Eddie Fisher.
Bobby Rydell sold 25 million records in his career. He is most famous for “Wild One” and “Volare.” The glory days for Rydell’s hits were between 1959-1964. In 1963 he made the move to the big screen co-starring with Ann-Margret in “Bye, Bye Birdie” as love interest Hugo Peabody. Rydell has continued to perform solo and also with “The Golden Boys” including Frankie Avalon and Fabian.
Did you know that Rydell High School in the play and film “Grease” is named after none other than Bobby Rydell?
In his autobiography, “Bobby Rydell: Teen Idol on the Rocks,”
Bobby revealed that he had earlier suffered from a heavy drinking problem. In 2012, he had a double organ transplant with his liver and one kidney replaced.
In 2013, he endured a double-bypass heart surgery.
Bobby was married to his first wife Camille Quattrone from 1968 until her death from cancer in 2003. He has been married to second wife Linda Hoffman since 2009.
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