This is the fourth number one Bobby Vinton had in his career and the second just this year alone (1964.) It would, unfortunately, be his last, however. Bobby would go on to record and chart until 1975, putting a total of thirty one songs into the Top 40.
Bobby wrote this song when he was still in the army and when he came home and got his first recording opportunity, he recorded two songs, one was “Roses Are Red (My Love)” which was his first hit and first number one back in 1962. The other song he recorded in that first recording session in 1962 was “Mr. Lonely.” At the time, Epic Records didn’t think it was right for Bobby. In fact, they gave the song to another artist, Buddy Greco, who was also trying to make himself known as a singer. Greco’s version of “Mr. Lonely” stalled way down at number 64 and so, Epic Records forgot about the song.
Bobby Vinton continued making records and having hits and by 1964 was a solid super-star. It came time to record an album of greatest hits and Bobby remembered “Mr. Lonely” and wanted it included on the album even though it had not been a hit for him. After its inclusion on the greatest hits album, called The Best of Bobby Vinton, the record was noticed by disc jockeys and they started to play it. The publicity caught on and so, they released it as a single and it went right to the top.
Bobby Vinton was kind of an anomaly in 1964. That year belonged to the Beatles and other British acts and American acts were not doing so well. Bobby was one a few Americans who were still charting and hitting number one. “Mr.Lonely” is a great song, but some people think it was such a big hit because it struck a chord with people who had family in the Vietnam War. The war was just getting going in 1964 and the song is about a soldier who is lonely because no one back home will write to him. There were many girlfriends and wives and mothers at home who really related to the song since they had sons and husbands and boyfriends overseas fighting.
“Mr. Lonely” became one of Bobby Vinton’s signature songs and was a favorite with servicemen all over the world. Epic Records later built an entire new album around the song. Bobby stayed with Epic Records until 1974, when he pitched to them a song he wrote that had some Polish lyrics. Epic said it would never sell and refused to record the song. So, Bobby moved to ABC Paramount Records and they released “My Melody of Love” which peaked at number three, Polish lyrics and all.
“Mr. Lonely debuted on the pop charts on November 7, 1964 and spent one week at number one.