Born Walden Robert Cassotto, 14 May 1936, The Bronx, New York City
Singer / songwriter / actor. One of the most versatile entertainers to emerge from the rock 'n' roll era, Darin rose from poor beginnings in Harlem and the south Bronx. He fought rheumatic fever as a child which damaged his heart and plagued him throughout his life. As a result of these obstacles, he worked extremely hard to overcome them. Knowing his life would not be a long one, his ambition to succeed was fueled by an overwhelming desire to make it big in show business.
Darin's musical career started as a demo writer, later as a demo singer at the Brill Building in NYC. In 1956 he recorded for Decca, then signed with Atco Records in 1957. After three flops, production duties were taken over by Ahmet Ertegun (1958), resulting in two million sellers : "Splish Splash" (# 3) and "Queen of the Hop" (# 9). Between these, he had a hit with "Early In The Morning", recorded at a moonlighting session for Decca, but reclaimed and rereleased by Atco. Late in 1958, Darin recorded the album "That's All" , an LP of standards, upon the suggestion of his publicist and friend Harriet Wasser. This album contained his signature song "Mack The Knife", which won the 1959 "Record Of The Year" and Darin the "Best New Artist" Grammy. "Mack The Knife" was number one on the Billboard charts for nine weeks in 1959. Targeting an adult fanbase, Darin would soon adopt the persona of a tuxedoed cabaret singer, playing to packed houses in Las Vegas.
In 1960 he moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career (culminating in an Oscar nomination for his role in "Captain Newman, M.D.", 1963) and married actress Sandra Dee soon afterwards. Hits on Atco continued, in a variety of styles. In 1962 he switched to Capitol, where his biggest hits were "You're the Reason I'm Living" (# 3) and "Eighteen Yellow Roses" (# 10), both in 1963. He returned to Atlantic in 1965, changed his style again with the folk-styled "If I Were A Carpenter" (# 8, 1966) and the protest album "Born Walden Robert Cassotto" on his own Direction label in 1967. It was not until 1968 that his older sister, Nina, revealed to him that she was not his sister after all but his mother, and he her illegitimate son. The woman he had grown up in the Bronx calling "Mama" was his grandmother. In the early seventies he signed with Motown and hosted his own TV show on NBC. He died after surgery to replace a heart valve, at the age of 37. A movie based on his life, "Beyond the Sea", was released in 2004, starring Kevin Spacey as Bobby and Kate Bosworth as Sandra Dee.
- Recommended CD : Bobby Darin Rocks (Bear Family BCD 16310). 36 tracks. Released 2008.
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