Bobby Darin bragged that he would be as “big as Sinatra.” He didn’t quite make it that far, but he did pretty well. If he hadn’t died so young, maybe he would be ranked up there with Sinatra, Dean Martin and those like them. Actually, as I think of it, maybe he is.
Bobby Darin was born Walden Robert Cassotto on May 14, 1936 at the height of the Great Depression. The man who Bobby thought was his father, Saverio Antonio Cassotto, was actually his grandfather and Saverio died just a few months before Bobby was born. Bobby never knew his father. Bobby had a talent for music even in high school and when he graduated he went to the big city and became a songwriter.
When he started recording records, he started with songs that could almost be called “bubblegum music.” His first hit was “Splish Splash” and he recorded several others before being given the opportunity to record “Mack the Knife.” This song would move him into a realm of serious performers.
The following is taken from the book: Legends of Rock and Roll – Bobby Darin: (by permission of the author) “The song originated in a 1928 German stage drama, known in English as The Threepenny Opera. The main character was a character named Macheath who was truly a scoundrel. The play told of Macheath’s foul deeds. He was a thief, a murderer and a rapist. Not the kind of leading character that one would think could be the subject of a number one American hit record. But it was.
After an English translation of the song was made, in 1956, The Theme from Threepenny Opera was a pretty big hit in America being done by several artists, including Dick Hyman, Richard Hayman & Jan August and even Lawrence Welk, but these were all very slow, instrumental versions. Listening to Lawrence Welk’s version, I have a hard time connecting that song with Bobby Darin’s version of “Mack the Knife”. Louis Armstrong jazzed it up and added words. The Theme from Threepenny Opera was subtitled (Mack the Knife). This is the version Bobby Darin went with in 1959.”
“Mack the Knife” entered the pop chart on September 11, 1959 at number 59. It rose to number one and stayed there for nine weeks, becoming the second biggest hit of the year, 1959.