Bobby Rydell, '60s Pop Star, Dies At 79

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Bobby Rydell, the one-time pop idol who had hits like “Wild One” and “Volare,” died Tuesday following a battle with pneumonia. He was only days away from his 80th birthday.

According to a statement from his reps, the illness was not related to to COVID-19.

"Truly one of my heroes," Canada's Burton Cummings shared on Facebook. "Had it not been for Rydell, I may never have pursued a career making records.

"He was just a bit older than me when his first hits raged onto the radio. What a voice!!! His pitch was always near perfect. He could sing anything ... I also loved the way he interpreted the old standards. His recordings will never be forgotten. He made me always try to be a better singer."

Singer Deana Martin, daughter of the late crooner Dean Martin, tweeted that Rydell "was an incredible entertainer and absolutely one of the funniest people I’ve ever known."

Born Robert Ridarelli in Philadelphia, he debuted on the U.S. singles chart in 1959 with “Kissin’ Time.” Rydell also starred as Hugo Peabody in the 1963 film adaptation of Bye Bye Birdie.

The high school in the 1971 musical Grease was named for him.

In his 2016 memoir Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances, Rydell revealed he underwent a double organ transplant to replace his liver and one kidney in 2012.

Rydell is survived by his second wife Linda J. Hoffman and his children Robert Ridarelli and Jennifer Dulin from his previous marriage, as well as five grandchildren.

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