‘Teen Idol’ Frankie Avalon to perform at Villages Amphitheater

Tue, 07/22/2008 - 3:07pm
By: The Citizen

Frankie Avalon to perform at Villages Amphitheater

Baby Boomers will be doing a lot of reminiscing about everything from Bobby Sox to Stockings when Frankie Avalon takes the stage on July 26 at the Villages Amphitheater.

Avalon, who made the transition from “Teen-age Idol” to mature professional, has a career that now spans three generations of music, television and motion pictures. Gates will open at 7 p.m., opening act The Sock Hops will perform at 8 p.m. with Frankie taking the stage at 9 p.m.

Francis Thomas Avallone was born September 18, 1940. He was encouraged to perform from the time he was a child, beginning from when he was tutored on the trumpet by his father. Avalon first performed at the CR Club, an extension of Palumbo's restaurant. The CR Club was a private affair where the owner encouraged parents to bring their children to entertain.

He soon progressed to local talent shows. On local Philadelphia television he won first place with his trumpet playing in amateur contests.

In 1952, Avalon was an uninvited performer at a party held for Al Martino, another of Philadelphia's Italian singers. Martino had just signed with Capitol Records and had invited the neighborhood to share in his success. Avalon's trumpet playing caught the eye of a talent scout who arranged for him to appear on Jackie Gleason's CBS-TV show. This led to other appearances on national television.

By the time he was 12, he had joined Rocco and the Saints, a dance band that featured another boy from the CR Club, drummer Robert Ridarelli, soon to call himself Bobby Rydell. The combo played parish bazaars, shows at the Sons of Italy Hall, weekend sock hops, in school gyms and weekend dances at teen clubs.

In 1957, with the rise of American Bandstand, a number of Philadelphians entered the music business. Among those were Peter DeAngelis and Robert Marucci, two Italian songwriters and music publishers. With a loan from Marucci's father they founded Chancellor Records.

Avalon asked for an audition, was signed with Marucci and DeAngelis becoming his managers. Avalon's first songs, backed by the Jivin' With the Saints combo were "Cupid" and "Teacher's Pet" were aimed at teenagers, but hardly sold outside of Philadelphia. Marucci and DeAngelis got Avalon and the Saints a cameo in the rock and roll film "Jamboree" where they played "Teacher's Pet." That September, Avalon spoke with Dick Clark about his career.

"Venus" was Avalon's biggest hit selling more then a million copies in the spring of 1959. Three more million sellers in a row, "Bobby Sox To Stockings," "Just Ask Your Heart" and "Why" followed.

Over a two year period, Avalon had seven songs in the Top Ten. Beginning in 1960 his career began to decline. He recorded a number of songs that couldn't make it into the top 20 and by 1961 his records couldn't even get into the top 60.

In the early ’60s there was a nationwide surfing craze and Hollywood did a number of movies on the subject. Avalon, along with Annette Funicello, were leading stars in these movies. Starting in 1963 he appeared in "Beach Party," "Muscle Beach," Beach Blanket Bingo" and more.

Though having no major hits after 1960 or any charted singles after 1962, Avalon continued to release singles and albums on Chancellor through 1963. In 1964 he signed with United Artists and recorded a few singles and two albums. After United Artist he changed labels almost yearly. In 1978 he had a cameo role in the musical "Grease" playing Teen Angel and singing "Beauty School Dropout." In 1980 “The Idolmaker,” a movie based on Avalon, Fabian and Marucci, was released.

In the summer of 1985, Avalon began touring with Bobby Rydell and Fabian as "The Golden Boys of Bandstand." The 50-city tour was a huge success with Public Television. "On Stage at Wolf Trap," airing in January 1986, was built around the show as well as a retrospective of their careers. This lead to a reunion with Funicello in 1987's "Back to the Beach," a film parody of their earlier beach movies.

Avalon now lives in Los Angeles area. Reportedly investing in the musical "Grease," he is now a millionaire. Avalon has never stopped making personal appearances in nightclubs and concerts. Often turning to Dick Clark for help in his career, Clark always came through. In return, Avalon appeared in many of Clark's musical productions for television.

Tickets cost $35 for reserved seats and $30 for lawn and may be purchased at the Historic Train Depot, or order by phone by calling 770-719-4173 or online at www.villagesamphitheater.com.

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