Bobby Vinton became a top selling pop star almost by accident. He really didn’t want to be a singer, he wanted to be a bandleader. Bobby was born Stanley Robert Vinton Jr. in 1935 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. This was the same town where Perry Como was born. He was the son of Stan Vinton who was a Polish bandleader in the Thirties and Forties. The Vinton’s were of Polish descent and later Bobby would become known as the “Polish Price of Poch.” Their surname was actually Vintula, but they changed it when they emigrated from Poland.
Bobby learned to play the clarinet when he was a boy and, like most kids, didn’t like to practice. His parents would pay him 25 cents after each of his practices. Since his dad was a bandleader, Bobby decided that was what he wanted to do. Age 16, he formed his own band and they played around the Pittsburgh area.
When he returned from serving in the Army, where he served as a chaplain’s assistant, he used a disc jockey friend of his, Dick Lawrence to get him signed onto a new label, Epic Records. Under his new label, he recorded two big band albums and several singles, but nothing happened in the sales department. Epic was about to drop him, when he realized that he was under contract for one more song. He looked through some rejected songs and discovered “Roses Are Red (My Love)” Epic reluctantly agreed to let him record. The first time he recorded it, he sang it in an R&B style and Bobby says that was the most terrible recording he had ever heard. So, he changed the tone of the song and sang it as a ballad.
Epic brought in strings and a vocal choir and re-recorded “Roses Are Red (My Love).” I’m sure they are glad they did. Bobby had to do his own promotion for the record, Epic just wanted to get rid of him and wouldn’t help at all. So, he hired a woman to deliver a copy of the record to every disc jockey in the Philadelphia area. Soon, it caught on and soon Bobby had a number one hit. It was also Epic Record’s first number one.
“Roses Are Red (my Love)” was the start of quite a career for Bobby Vinton. He went on to put 31 songs into the Top 40 over the next thirteen years, including three more number ones which we will get to in due time.
“Roses Are Red (my Love)” entered the pop chart on June 16, 1962 and stayed at number one for four weeks, making it one of the biggest songs of 1962.