Bobby Darin

Bobby Darin Is a New Man

This article,written by Alan Smith, appeared in the
April, 1967 issue of Hit Parader Magazine.

Bobby Darin is the singer who set out to become a legend in his own lifetime. He attacked life like a hungry man wolfing down his last meal. He dedicated himself to becoming a star -- and he got used to people calling him "brash" and "self-confident" as often as they said "hello" and "goodbye."

But that was the old Bobby Darin, in the days of "Splish Splash," "Multiplication," "Up a Lazy River," and "Mack the Knife."

Today he is calm, relaxed, good-humored, friendly. He sits strumming a guitar in his London hotel room, singing quiet and gentle songs like "If I Were a Carpenter" or sipping occasionally from a cup of black coffee. All the time he peers from beneath the shade of a yachting cap perched jauntily over his eyes.

The spark is still there. He could get up in a moment and blast the room with song. The style would be crisp, punchy, swinging with sophistication.

Bobby Darin the performer hasn't changed - only the person. Why the transformation?

"I suddenly woke up one day and decided to change the pace," Bobby told me. "I decided to take life as it comes.

"Music is still the dominating factor in my life, and every time I go into a recording studio I think: 'This is a hit.'

"Look at Sinatra. He had 'Strangers in the Night' sitting right up there in the No. 1 seat. He's 50 years old. A world name. Does he need a hit? Will it up his price?

"He didn't need a No. 1, but you can bet your life a part of him was very, very content.

"That's the way I feel about hit records. I may not need them in one way, but I would be a liar if I said that to be in the hit parade did not give me tremendous personal satisfaction.

"The music world is so much an exciting scene at the moment. There is a fusion of all the things that have gone before: you find the hit records of today are a mixture of rock and roll, swing, dixie, and everything all in one.

"It's wrong for anyone to try to categorize music any more. For instance (he walked quickly across the room and switched on the record player) this may be my next single. Some people might call it Happy Time music, but we would have only needed to add strings to make it sound something entirely different."

A catchy, swing-along song floated around the room as Bobby mimed to the words and tapped his foot in time to the rhythm.

He added: "People are more broad-minded about music today. It's no longer a crime to bend a lyric. Yesterday's traditions are going out of the window, and I think it's the people who grew up with rock and roll who are able to appreciate this fact the most.

"Some older people are in a rut with their musical tastes - locked in, I call it - but that's no crime. They're just too old to bend."

Bobby's own musical tastes are wider than the average pop fan might imagine. He is intensely devoted to music. He cares about it, and he will talk intelligently and thoughtfully about trends and styles. Occasionally he picks up his guitar and demonstrates his ideas by singing an established hit in his own style.

"I often visualize a song in a completely different way," he told me. "For instance, I would have slowed the pace slightly for 'Eleanor Rigby,' and I would have done the Rolling Stones' 'Satisfaction' like this ..."

Bobby has an undisguised admiration for the songwriting talents of Lennon-McCartney team with the permanency of Gilbert and Sullivan and Rodgers and Hart.

Quite soon he's hoping to get reaction of a different sort - from students in high schools and colleges all over America.

He told me: "I'm toying around with an idea of going on a lecture tour, talking about how I feel rock and roll has evolved, and the unhealthyness of trying to put music into separate little ruts. The idea's a hazy one at the moment, but I'm working on it!"

When I left him he was about to play one of the collection of classical records he carries around with him for relaxation - a piece by Sibelius. Then there were telephone calls to make, a TV show to think about, and the need to study his film script for the next day. He is here to appear in Strangers in the House, a murder thriller.

I found him one of the easiest-to-talk-to and most amiable stars I've ever met ... a friendly guy who knows where he's going, but who's now found the secret of going there the relaxed way.

Thanks to Jamie Ney for this article.

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