LIBRARY OF ROCK 'N' ROLL HISTORY
|Another teen heart throb of the day was Bobby Curtola, also from Ontario. His first single was released in 1960, "Hand In Hand With You". He would go on to crack Billboard's Top 100 a number of more times in the '60's with gold hits such as "Hitch Hiker", "Aladdin", "3 Rows Over" and his biggest chart-topper "Fortune Teller". Now making Edmonton his home, Curtola today is widely sought after for product endorsements and is one of the top draws around the lounge and club circuit.|
The world headquarters of the Bobby Curtola tomato clam cocktail and entertainment empire turns out to be an unassuming warehouse in south Edmonton - but what magic takes place behind these walls.
Bobby Curtola hams it up in front of his rock 'n' roll tour bus.
- Christine Vanzella, SUN
It's been a hive of activity all week.
On our way to the inner sanctum to interview Canada's rock 'n' roll legend, we pass a man with slicked-back hair and large sideburns working at his desk. He could be an Elvis impersonator. Maybe he is. Roadies bustle to and fro. A CBC crew is wrapping up a shoot. In the loading bay, antique hot-rods wait to be polished. In the office, a mix of Elvis and Curtola memorabilia creates the backdrop for a busy staff organizing Curtola's Stand By Me Canadian tour, which lands in the AgriCom tomorrow.
"We're on a mission here," Curtola says. "We're on a mission to go back to go forward, to make people look back not only at the music, but their lives and the real values and family values, and to get everybody, the generation of the '50s, the baby boomers, and their kids and relatives, and start having fun again. This concert is about bringing back that era."
And how. Curtola, 53, will perform with Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Brenda Lee, Connie Francis and many more - some of the world's top impersonators - and, as if that weren't enough, a bevy of Miss Universe contestants. Plus one very special guest: Elvis Presley's first cousin, Donna Presley-Early, author of Elvis: Precious Memories.
There's an Elvis connection here, as you may have guessed. Curtola, who once recorded in the same studio as Elvis, met Presley-Early in January while he was the honorary chairman of an Elvis convention in Huntsville, Ont.. He says he was so impressed with her book that he wrote a song called Precious Memories.
Within the opulent confines of the official Bobby Curtola tour bus - vanity plate: ROCKNRL - the Living Legend sings a few verses a capella: "Precious memories/he loved us more than life itself/precious memories/he gave us joy and music with his song/time will never change the mark he left/how much he gave/the world remembers still this man of song/he changed our lives/we lived the dream/a better time it was with him/let's bring it back/let's celebrate a better world he helped create ...."
The song will be made into a video, but for now, the new Bobby Curtola product (aside from Sea Czar tomato clam cocktail, planned to hit the stores in May) is a snappy, drum-machine-driven version of Stand By Me. It's a duet with Buddy Miles, former drummer of Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsies. Depicting the tale of a white kid, his black friend and the bike that brought them closer together, it was filmed by the same folks who did Free Willy, says Curtola.
"We've done it on the principle of family values," he explains. "Stand by me, brother and brother, brother and sister, mother and daughter, husband and wife, family, (sings) when the night has come. It's all about family values."
The renewed Curtolamania may represent a third comeback. During the early '60s, of course, Bobby became the teen idol all the girls screamed over with such hits as Fortune Teller and Three Rows Over.
"Then I retired from concerts in 1969," he continues, "like Rocky Marciano hanging the gloves up. We went into the nightclubs, and I opened for a guy named Louis Armstrong. He was wonderful. He was so nice to me. And it was just when Howard Hughes was buying all those hotels in Las Vegas, and they were looking for performers. He had his people out there spotting artists all over the world and Louis's people told them about me."
And then - bada-bing, bada-boom - Bobby landed a seven-figure contract to perform at the Sands Hotel, his main gig for nearly 12 years. It was during this time that Bobby became Boby, a "kibitz," he says, to get reporters not to focus so much on the past. The missing 'B' returned about eight years ago when "the nostalgia thing started happening ... the way that I look at it is that the stuff with one `B' is really collectable now," he laughs.
Even if the glory days are behind him, Curtola is about to collect yet another honor - the Order of Canada.
The feeling, he says, is "unbelievable, because it relates to my entertainment and to me being Canada's Bobby Curtola in the music industry, and all of the charity work I've done.
"I helped raise about $15 million a year (for the Variety Club) for many years."
As an entertainer in all seriousness, he goes on, "To me, it's all about the children. Sometimes, we adults get crazy, we argue over silly things, but if we looked at the children and realized that what we're doing affects them, there's a lot of things we wouldn't be arguing over. Because this world belongs to them and we have to do a good job giving it to them. We have to nurture that."
People may laugh, comics may mercilessly parody the form, but Curtola is the living epitome of lounge culture. All these other cigar-chomping, martini-swilling, zoot-suit-wearing musicians hammering out golden oldies in trendy bars? They're just pretending. Bobby Curtola is for real.
Tickets to the show are $20 (451-8000).
Meet the Martels!
This group of Midland musicians comprised of Tom Ambeau (drums, guitar), Milt Budarick (bass guitar), Bert DesRochers (piano), Larry French (lead guitar, vocals) and Gary French (lead vocals, drums), grew up playing new music for a new age.
In 1957, the teenagers formed The Corvettes and played for Teen Town sock hops throughout Ontario.
A few years later the manager for Canada's first teen idol Bobby Curtola, discovered the band and hired them to work with Bobby full time.
The Corvettes became Bobby Curtola & The Martells in 1961 when an American band with the name "The Corvettes" appeared on the scene. The name Martells came from Curtola's manger, Maria Martell, and the name has been with the band ever since. Bobby Curtola, Canada's first teen idol, went on to record hit songs such as Indian Giver, Hand in Hand with You and Fortune Teller.
Touring took the band on the first cross Canada rock n' roll tour with stops at Massey hall, Klondike Days, the Calgary Stampede and the Pacific Exhibition. Back home the band continued to play backing up such stars as Del Shannon ("Runaway") until the British Invasion took rock n' roll in a new direction and The Martells eventually disbanded in the late 1960's.
Here are some pics of a few of the singing stars we had the pleasure of meeting.
1. Barry & Jan with Ricky Nelson
2. Jan with Ronnie Hawkins
3. Barry & Jan with Ronnie Dove (Got A Little Bit Of Heaven, Say You,)
4. Jan getting too friendly with Bobby Curtola (Fortune Teller, Indian Giver)
5. Bobby Curtola, Robbie Lane, John Ireland (Jill Ireland"s brother & Charles Bronson's brother-in-law, Barry and Kenny Hollis who was an emcee at a huge nightclub in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada and hosted all the big stars such as: Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Rick Nelson, Lesley Gore, Roy Orbison etc. We have more photos, if readers are interested.
CBC NATIONAL ONLINE QUIZ
Who sang the hit song, "Fortune Teller" in 1962?
Bobby Curtola. Curtola was born in Port Arthur, Ontario, (now called Thunder Bay). "Fortune Teller" was recorded in Nashville and was an international smash, selling over 2,000,000 copies worldwide! Curtola became a Canadian teen idol and was the first Canadian singer to have his own fan club in Canada.
Dreams, Fantasies & Nightmares (Canada) by Vernon JoynsonCanada also produced some truly great singer / songwriters in the 1963 - 75 era - Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. There were also several other solo artists who made their mark. In the early sixties, singers like Barry Allen, Paul Anka, Bobby Curtola, Pat Hervey, Andy Kim and Anne Murray made an impression. The seventies heralded a further wave of solo artists, notably Bruce Cockburn, Shirley Eikhard, Patsy Gallant, Gordon Lightfoot, R. Dean Taylor and folky Valdy. There were some memorable duo’s too, like Terry and Susan Jacks (who also recorded as The Poppy Family) and Ian and Sylvia (who started out playing folk but switched to country rock, in 1968, after forming the backing group Great Speckled Bird).
The CAVEAT - May 1993It has now been more than a year since CAVEAT came into being. From six people gathered around a coffee table to support their friends, Rocco and Priscilla de Villiers, whose 19-year-old daughter Nina had been tragically murdered, CAVEAT has become a not-for-profit corporation and a registered charity, with 60 active volunteers working on nine committees and a growing list of associate members.
CAVEAT: A Year Later
During this time, CAVEAT has worked on many fronts for the promotion of a safe, peaceful and just society. Here are some of the highlights:
Last September, Bobby Curtola, Canada's teen idol of the '60's gave a benefit performance for CAVEAT at the Hillcrest Restaurant in Hamilton. Our thanks go to Bobby Curtola, who donated his time to promote CAVEAT.
Exterior of The World of Coca-Cola, Las Vegas
Some of the digital stories grew from Moone'ys archives. Some developed through serendipity. Atchley's first search of the web for Coca-Cola brought up a site created by an employee in the Chemistry Department at the University of Calgary which had information about a 1946 center aisle Coca-Cola cooler towed behind a Model A 1928 Roadster so that the driver and passengers would always have cold Cokes on hand. The site led to information that the cooler would be at a car collector's show in Calgary. The timing was right, Atchley flew to Canada to videotape the Roadster and its cooler for one of the stories, hiring Perspective Pictures for the local shoot. While there, an entertainer for the car show was recognized as Bobby Curtola, a 1960's teen idol, who had once sung the Coca-Cola jingle. As Atchley talked with him, Curtola spontaneously sang the jingle again right there, still full of energy and enthusiasm. The video crew caught him on video, then mixed clips of Curtola singing the song thirty-five years ago and today, resulting in a digital story on "Whatever happened to..?"
Entrance to the Storytelling Theater and Mural by Man One
Phil Mooney, Company Archivist
Running every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (weather permitting), the Showboat has seen now-famous individuals make their debut on its stage. Among the best known are Rolf Harris, Barbara Perkins, Juliette, Judith Forst and Deborah Kara Unger. The late Chief Dan George was a regular. Even pop sensation Bobby Curtola appeared at the venue, sending teenage girls into a frenzy. To get away, Curtola had to slip into a lifeguard's t-shirt to disguise himself and lay flat in a row boat while lifeguards took him to the other side of the pool. That was when the stage was situated in the outdoor tidal pool long before it was renovated into the current heated pool.
Bobby Curtola in the Ottawa Journal Hit Parade Charts of 1964
Yesterday Bobby received the Order of Canada and I know that Canadians from all walks of life will join me in congratulating him not just for the award but for a lifetime of achievement.
Bobby was one of Canada's first international pop music stars, a pioneer in demonstrating that Canada is blessed with an abundance of talent.
Long before the Beatles drew throngs of screaming teens to their shows Bobby was out there on the road doing the same. Most important, Bobby Curtola proved that you can be both a superstar and a nice guy. That is what his fans will say today. Super stardom never went to Bobby's head. He was, is and will remain the sort of man we are proud to call a friend and a fellow Canadian.
Congratulations on behalf of all Canadians and Edmontonians to Bobby Curtola.
The Castle and His King
Niagara's Downtowner Magazine
http://www.downtownermag.com/Departments/Music/the_castle.htmlFrom its opening in 1965 to its dwindle down through 1968, the Castle in downtown St. Catharines acted as high-concept, high-profile context wherein teen culture and local musicians thrived----all orchestrated by its impresario and residing genius, Ronn Metcalfe.
Normally, the Castle was open on weekends, from eight to almost midnight, with Friday the big night. Saturday evening catered to a slightly older crowd, while afternoons courted junior members with a record hop, sometimes augmented by performance of a tyro band, auditioning for prime time. Sunday afternoons, frequently, the Castle featured fortuitous appearances by touring "big-name" acts, slotted in as they passed through, to and from Toronto and western New York.
Among these then chart-topping visitors were the Barbarians ("Are You a Boy or Are You A Girl?"; led by a one-handed drummer named Moulty); the McCoys ("Hang On Sloopy"-a three-chord classic); the faux British-seeming Sir Douglas Quintet from Texas ("She's About a Mover"); and R&B girl group, the Toys ("A Lover's Concerto").
Such Canadian "big-names" as Bobby Curtola, The Staccatos and Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins also came this route. Bands from western New York, notably the Buffalo Beatles, regularly crossed over the border to play. Concurrently, the Castle would make "regional" stars of the Modbeats, the Evils, and others.
At top of the stairs were ticket booth and coat-check. Admission was affordable: a poster advertising Curtola's appearance sets the tickets at $1.25 in advance, $1.50 at the door. Patrons needed a (readily-acquired) membership card.
New York's in New York
Canadian Music, not your usually mix WUSB
Bobby Curtola (1944-) pop singer, was born at Thunder Bay Ontario in 1944. A Bobby Vinton clone, Curtola was one of one of Canada's early teen idols. His songs include Hand In Hand With You, Don't You Sweetheart Me, Three Rows Over, and Fortune Teller. He was also the TV host of After Four, and Shake, Rock, Roll.
Bobby Curtola Fortune Teller MP3 Featured in Songs of the Fifties
March 8 , 1965 - Bobby Curtola peaked in the Canadian top ten with It's About Time. Not one of his better known songs, Curtola suffers, in a retrospective way, from not being around at a time when there were national charts to track an artist's success in this country, but earlier hits like Three Rows Over, Indian Giver and many more established him as the first Canadian-only superstar. He was able to tour from coast to coast in this country, and receive airplay everywhere in Canada, with minimal US success. This syndrome persists even today with bands like The Tragically Hip and The Tea Party.
March 14, 1966 - Bobby Curtola peaked in the Canadian top 5 with While I'm Away. Like his American teen idol counterparts, Bobby was having trouble competing with the new sounds out of Britain but with the help of RPM magazine, he continued to chart highly, though his radio and retail support was dwindling.
April 17, 1944 - Bobby Curtola, Canada's first domestic rock and roll star, was born. Both Paul Anka and Jack Scott predated Bobby with chart hits, as did a couple of bands and vocal groups, but Curtola's stardom was limited to Canada only, proving to many that we could have an industry in this country that wasn't totally dependent on making it in the US. Hundreds of artists since appreciate Bobby leading the way, or, at least, would, if they were old enough to know who he was.
April 5, 1965 - Bobby Curtola peaked in the Canadian top 5 with his version of Mean Woman Blues. At the time he was Canada's biggest pop star but his version pales when compared to earlier recordings by Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison. No shame there, but top 5?
May 5, 1962 - Bobby Curtola entered the US charts with Fortuneteller, one of his biggest Canadian hits. Measuring Bobby's domestic success can only be done on a local basis, as his hits, generally, preceded the founding of RPM, our first national listings. Suffice it to say that he was big enough to do commercials for Coca Cola, as a featured star, and his tours sold out arenas from coast to coast long before arena rock was a common thing. He still works, albeit in smaller rooms, and maintains a loyal following of fans, most of whom are now grandmothers but remember their very own Canadian teen idol.
Bobby Curtola's Real Thing peaks Can top 20-1966.
Bobby Curtola's Walkin' With My Angel peaks Can top 5-1965.
Canadian pop icon Bobby Curtola officially launches Bobby Curtola's Sea Czar Tomato Clam Cocktail in B.C. on Thursday, Aug. 13 at the Villa Clarion Hotel in Burnaby.
Canada's 1st major Rock Star! Bobby was the first Canadian to be officially credited with a gold album - a million seller and 30 top ten singles and albums including his giant hit "Fortune Teller" which sold over two million copies internationally. Bobby "Mr. Personality" Curtola has a magical rapport with his audience. He sings his originals, chart hits, hand clapping, toe-tapping songs, romantic ballads, country favourites, and of course, good old rock and roll!
Bobby Curtola Feature: Issue 201 (April 8, 1988):
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