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Dust Up Those Squeals, Venus: Frankie Avalon At the Flagler Auditorium Tonight

| April 12, 2011

Still crooning after all these years.

It was a tiny filler on a buried page inside the March 14, 1959 New York Times, barely a paragraph long, at the end of a series of brief entertainment articles led by the news that CBS had signed William Shatner to star in an obscure series seven years before Shatner’s big break on Star Trek. The filler read: “Frankie Avalon will start a new show on American Broadcasting Company radio April 11. The singer’s program will be heard Saturdays from 7 to 7:30 P.M. in a format that features songs, guest stars and interviews with teen-agers.”

You can still read the quaintness all over those lines. That was back when Frankie Avalon was just 18 years old—the Frankie Avalon of “Venus,” the very last Number 1 hit of the 1950s, “Just Ask Your Heart” and “Why”—when he was a teen idol himself, when ABC still went by its full name, “P.M.” was capitalized and people still tuned in to a radio show on Saturday evening to listen to “guest stars and interviews with teen-agers.” It was a national show, so chances are that if you were a teen-ager back then, you may well have been among those who listened to Avalon’s show one of those Saturday nights—and may be among the 60-somethings who may be flocking to Avalon’s one-evening performance at the Flagler Auditorium this evening (April 12, at 7:30).

Consider yourself lucky: Avalon’s stop at the auditorium is one of just 12 on his 2011 tour, one of 15 concerts he’s giving this year (only Vega gets him for more than a night), though Florida must be rife with Avalon memories: his five April dates are in this state, ending with Flagler before Avalon takes a break.

Coincidentally, the man to whom Avalon owes much of his early fame (and gigs like that ABC radio show), Robert Marucci, who launched and managed Avalon’s rise in the 1950s, died just last month, at age 81. Like Avalon, Marcucci was a Philadelphian. Avalon was a 16-year-old trumpet player and singer in a band called Rocco and the Saints when Marcucci discovered him and signed him to Chanceller Records. In 1957, Marcucci and his partner, Peter DeAngelis, wrote “DeDe Dinah” for Avalon, his first big hit. They also wrote “Why.” And Avalon’s stardom was off. It was Marcucci who choreographed a few early dance moves for Avalon and suggested what became an Avalon trademark before Bill Cosby adopted the shtick on his show: those sweaters.

“It seems like every young kid in Philadelphia wanted to be a singer,” Avalon, who was born in 1940, says (according to the one-page biography distributed by his publicist).  “I started as a musician…a trumpet player in the beginning. But, when I picked up the paper one day and read about Jimmy Darren who was from my own neighborhood and school, making a successful career for himself, I decided that I could do it just as well.”

So he did, but Avalon had the slight misfortune of launching his solo career after Elvis Presley and right before the British Invasion: when The Beatles hit American shores, crooning took a bit of a dive. One-hit wonders wrecked all over the place. Avalon proved his mettle. He turned to movies. He starred in some 30 of them. So along with his more famous hits, expect a few songs from those tonight—from “Beach Blanket Bingo” and “California Sun” or “Back to the Beach,” for instance.

Avalon is also fond of mingling with his audience, who may no longer squeal and quiver and fantasize about having his babies, at least not outwardly (watch this performance of Venus to get an idea), but whose memories are not yet so ravaged as make them forget that they once did.

Frankie Avalon, The One and Only, April 12 at the Flagler Auditorium, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $42 for adults, $32 for youth. Call the Flagler Auditorium box office at 386/437-7547 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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3 Responses for “Dust Up Those Squeals, Venus: Frankie Avalon At the Flagler Auditorium Tonight”

  1. Kevin says:

    I would also like to announce that my daughter has just begun using her potty, out of the blue, obliterating my wife’s and my fears that she was not learning like the “others.” I know a lot of you don’t like me but I thought you might share in this small joy all the same.

    For those of you that had children, I’m sure you recall how happy this made you especially considering Sophia is almost three. No more diapers to buy—only to be replaced with more expensive demands. For those of you who don’t care for my…opinions, take compfort in knowing that little angel will probably have me wrapped around her finger, as one person her onece wrote me.

    Oh yeah, welcome to Flagler Mr. Avalon, I wonder if he is stayijng with a friend in the Hammock since it’s so beautiful there and a couple homes there are something suitable to accomodate him or the President for that matter. Yea and happy day to all!

  2. NortonSmitty says:

    Congratulations Kevin, sincerely. You had to know she would eventually. Sometimes I think they just like to watch the worried look on our faces while they pretend they don’t know what it is we want them to do. Eventually, when it becomes impossible for them to delay it any longer, they are forced to be normal in front of their gene donors, spoiling the fun until the next opportunity to rebel against our expectations. They practice each step for years and perfect the technique right around puberty, where we pray either they somehow are unharmed in the passage or you are mercifully allowed to die a quick death. Neither is likely, so get used to it.

    Dollar to a donut, you’ll live though it all. Right up to the day she turns 18 and comes home to announce she just registered to vote. Democratic.

    RIP, Papa.

    P.S., Frankie Avalon asks why you had to steal his spotlight with the big news.

  3. Kevin says:

    Wow Norton– I cannot be anything but honest in stating I am impressed with the level of accuracy in your analysis and projections regarding my Sophia! It really won’t take that much to move the light of Frankie?

    Your comment, “Sometimes I think they just like to watch the worried look on our faces while they pretend they don’t know what it is we want them to do. Eventually, when it becomes impossible for them to delay it any longer, they are forced to be normal in front of their gene donors, …” was particularly a hot one that made me laugh. On that note I realized again, that you and others like William are good people whom I wished didn’t get into it with me in the manner it occurs– you far out-insulting him because you can get a nasty edge to your comments. I recognize you’re no idiot as well. Hopefully in time and as well with SOME others, we can eliminate the ad hominem attacks. I believe we probably are closer in our beliefs than our sometimes ugly arguments would indicate.

    Dorothea on the other hand…Jezz, freaking louise she is wacked and the completely out of touch with facts although she thinks else wise!

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