10:18:15 pm on
Sunday 14 Jul 2024

RIP Bobby Curtola
Bob Stark

I haven't seen much coverage of this story. Ali seems to have wiped-out any recent entertainment news. Still, Bobby Curtola has died.

An article in the “Globe,” today, related that Bobby had 25 Canadian Gold Singles and 12 Canadian Gold albums. He established the first coast-to-coast tour, in the land of ice and snow, well, likely for pop stars.

He was one of the singing Bobbys, of an era targeted by Jerry Lee Lewis, in a rather derogatory way. There were a slew of them in that time of early high-school innocence. Bobby Vinton, Bobby Goldsboro, Bobby Darin, Bobby Vee, Bobby Rydell and so on.

Curtola was our Bobby! Heck, so was I. As a budding crooner and swooner, myself, how could the Bobby Brigade not influence me? I was "A Hitch-Hiker on the Road to Love," falling helpless in love with the girl "Three Rows Over."

Bobby Curtola had that slick hairdo with the kiss curl. He wore a red sports jacket, white shirt and thin black tie; that was de rigueur, in the day. Stand at the microphone, snap your fingers, watch the girls faint. He was the Boomer version of Justin Bieber.

Of course, for many rock 'n' rollers, the Bobbys weren't 'Beebs,' but 'Dweebs' that usurped the pop charts when Elvis cut his hair and went off to Germany with the army, albeit slowly turning into a shadow of his former radical hip swinging self. Despite his own protestation in song, even he would develop a wooden heart.

Motown and the British Invasion eventually resuscitated the near-death experience of the music industry. I suppose one could say the Bobbys filled the gap between the societal and musical death of hair-flying, piano-banging Jerry Lee Lewis, once he ran-off to England to marry his 14 year old cousin, and an "Are You Experienced?" purple-hazed Jimi Hendrix. What is he doing, kneeling on the stage, with that guitar!

When the night had a thousand eyes, but couldn't see anything for which you would land in jail. Your girlfriend may have worn blue velvet, but that's about as far as you'd get in pre-birth control days. Thank God for the Pill!

Mack the Knife was apparently in town, but overshadowed and outdone by Lee Harvey Oswald. The Bobby Era had ended.

I have mentioned before to some friends that I once watched Bobby Curtola in the lobby at the Junos, in late 1980s and early 1990s, almost begging a Toronto radio music director to play his new record. "But for the grace of God, will not go I," I promised myself. The music biz is a cruel vicious animal that eats its young.

Alas, ya can't kill an idea or a young boy's lust, no matter the generation. "Hey hey, my my, rock 'n' roll will never die". Little did I know that "Fortune Teller" would earworm its way into my psyche and become the song scape of my life! It did.

Here are my first lyrics,

Oh, Oh Patty Ann,
I love you so
Oh, Patty Ann
I'll never let you go
But every time I call
You're on the phone
Talking to him
While I'm all alone

Pure Pop magic, if I say so myself.

Patty Ann Leslie, I believe was her name. She took me to a party where I had an immortal hard-on all night; the curse of every thirteen or fourteen-year-old lad. Bent over on the dance floor, I think I invented The Monkey that night, trying to hide the restless little sucker. First date and last date, I couldn't handle the pressure!

Well, my friends, it's certainly been a sad year for music fans, hasn’t it. For those who may have missed it, in the ongoing race to the Pearly Gates, legendary Texas songwriter, Guy Clark, passed a couple of weeks ago; I met him once at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

After-hours at the hotel, a bunch of us were sitting around drinking beer, building, out of our plastic beer mugs, the "Beer Lynn Wall," when Lynn Miles noticed Guy and his long-time pal, Townes Van Zandt, trading tunes, ear-to-ear, passing back and forth Clark's guitar. Lynn said, "Let's go see what them old rounders are up to." She had met them before. A long story made short, I played a newly minted song, "Irish Dust," on Guy Clark's guitar.

Early next morning, in the cafeteria, the two old friends walked in, much to my amazement. Well, Clark looked fresh as a daisy. Van Zandt a little worse for wear. Guy guided him to a table, sat him down, and went off to the buffet and got them both breakfast.

About 4 hours later, they're on stage together doing a workshop, as if they'd slept a million eons. It was brilliant. Ten years or so ago, I saw Guy Clark again, on stage, at the Vogue. He was one of the great song-writing storytellers. He wrote, "If I could just get off this L.A. Freeway without getting killed or caught."

Bob Stark is a musician, poet, philosopher and couch potato. He spends his days, as did Jean-Paul Sarte and Albert Camus, pouring lattes and other adult beverages into a recycled mug, bearing a long and winding crack. He discusses, with much insight and passion, the existentialist and phenomenological ontology of the Vancouver 'Canucks,' a hockey team, "Archie" comic books and high school reunions. In other words, Bob Stark is a retired public servant living the good life on the wrong coast of Canada.

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