Bobby Darin was a singer, an actor, and a musician who packed more into his brief thirty-seven years of life than most of us do in a lifetime. At his peak in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, he sang and swung with the best of them, and for a while came close to even out-Sinatra-ing Sinatra.
The legendary Sammy Davis Jr., no slouch himself in the multi-talented field, was said to have quipped that he had no problem following any performer on the stage, with the sole exception of one – Bobby Darin, this after seeing one of Darin’s Las Vegas performances.
Darin from the start of his life was born living on borrowed time. As a child he was plagued with numerous bouts of rheumatic fever and as a result of this inflammatory disease, his already fragile heart was weakened further.
The legend goes that at a young age Darin overheard his mother talking to a doctor who informed her that the young Darin would be lucky to see his sixteenth birthday given his condition.
The news of this spurned Darin into making the most of his time and talents.
His was a career that spanned several musical genres, starting with pop and then moving into jazz, rock, folk and even country.
Darin’s signature tune, Mack the Knife, was released in 1959 and went on to become a best-seller; this tune, coupled with his next mammoth hit, Beyond the Sea, formed the pillars that would support his rise to fame.
Sold-out shows in New York and in Las Vegas followed, as Darin became the toast of both towns.
In 1960 Darin also added Hollywood actor to his already impressive resume and starred in several feature films, and managed to garner a Best Supporting Actor nod for his performance in the 1963 film Captain Newman, M.D.
During the mid to late 1960’s Darin’s life and music took on another twist as he turned his attention to the events of the day and became a folk artist of sorts, becoming involved with politics. This association culminated with his work on the Robert Kennedy campaign that unfortunately ended tragically with the killing of Kennedy in 1968.
Darin, after some time off, returned to performing in the early 1970’s, but his health problems were never far behind, and in 1973 he finally succumbed to his heart problems.
His legacy is best remembered, and appreciated by the music and the enthusiasm that he brought to his art. Any collection that features Bobby Darin’s hits, particularly those recorded with Capitol records, is a good place to start to appreciate this talent that was tragically cut down well before the prime of his life.