Bobby Darin was one of the most ambitious and versatile performers of the last forty years.
He straddled generations, appealing to bobbysoxers as a teen idol who wrote and recorded "Splish Splash" in 1958 and then winning over their parents as the swaggering,
Sinatra-voiced adult who cut the ultimate version of "Mack the Knife" (a song from Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's musical Threepenny Opera) only a year later.
Both songs were enormous hits, with "Splish Splash" reaching Number Three and "Mack the Knife" topping the chart for an astounding nine weeks. Darin's range was as boundless as his brash self-confidence. In 1959, he told a Life magazine reporter that he wanted to be a pop legend by the age of twenty-five, while he allegedly informed another writer that he intended to surpass Frank Sinatra.
Darin was a man on a mission. Because of a congenital heart defect discovered when he was eight, Darin became convinced he would die prematurely. Therefore, he wasted no time as he set out to leave his mark on the world.
Born in the Bronx in 1936, Walden Robert Casotto launched his musical career as a songwriter for a New York publisher and then made the leap to performer, cutting a few unsuccessful sides for Decca before signing with Atlantic Records' Atco subsidiary. His breakthrough single was "Splish Splash," an uptempo bit of rock and roll doggerel reportedly dashed off in twelve minutes. Darin followed it with the similarly infectious "Queen of the Hop" and "Dream Lover" . The latter song, which marked his peak as a teen idol, found him marrying the yearning sound of Roy Orbison to the elegant simplicity of Buddy Holly's later arrangements.
Then, in August 1959, he took the world by surprise with "Mack the Knife," which won a Grammy for Record of the Year. It became his signature song and appeared on the album That's All, which marked his courting of a more adult audience.