Bobby Vinton, AKA THE POLISH PRINCE., was born StanleyVinton on April 16, 1935 and is the only child of a locally popular bandleader, Stan Vinton. At 16, Vinton formed his first band, which played clubs around the Pittsburgh area. With the money he earned, he helped finance his college education at Duquesne University, where he studied music and graduated with a degree in musical composition. While at Duquesne, he became proficient on all of the instruments in the band: piano, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, drums and oboe. In concerts today, Bobby often displays his prowess as an instrumental artist as well as singing.
Vinton's birthplace of Canonsburg is also the birthplace of popular singing icon of the 50's, Perry Como. Vinton has been honored by his hometown with a major thoroughfare, Bobby Vinton Boulevard. Canonsburg town fathers had plans to erect a statue in his honor, but Vinton vetoed the idea noting that the $100,000 planned cost could go to far more important town needs.
After a two-year hitch in the U.S. Army, where 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." 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)." 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 No.1. 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 Skin Cream 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 service in the U.S. Army in the late 1950s where he served as a Chaplain's Assistant. 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 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 winter of 1964 and reached #1 on the charts in December. Epic then released an 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 author in the 45 years since it hit #1.
Vinton's version of "There! I've Said It Again" is noteworthy for being the final U.S. Billboard number one single of the pre-Beatles era; it was deposed from the top of the Hot 100 by "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Also 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 #7, sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold record by the R.I.A.A.
In the 1970s, the "Polish Prince" continued to hit the Top 40, notably with "Ev'ry Day of My Life" which peaked at #18 in January, and "Sealed With a Kiss" hitting #14 in June, 1972. That same 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. Absurd~!
Undeterred, Vinton spent $50,000 of his own money on a self-written song sung partially in Polish: "My Melody of Love". After Vinton was turned down by seven major labels, ABC Records bought Vinton's idea, and the result was a multi-million selling single that hit #2 on the Cashbox Top 100 chart and #1 on the AC charts 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), and 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. He owned, and performed at, the Bobby Vinton Blue Velvet Theatre in Branson, Missouri until 2002, when the theatre was sold to David King, creator and producer of Spirit of the Dance. Vinton returns to Branson often for limited engagements at the theatre. His annual concerts in Lancaster, PA at American Music Theatre are yearly sell-outs. He is also a fixture in Vegas and on many Indian reservations across the country, where they employ "big name artists" to bring in the players.
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, Vinton has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6916 Hollywood Blvd.
SOME STELLAR PERFORMANCES
STILL GOING STRONG....IN PERSON, IN 2011
Be sure to check out Bobby's own website (LINK), as well as our special music list available on spotify.com. (Link here or on our MUSIC page).