Bobby Darin, “Mack The Knife”

On this day in 1959, Bobby Darin‘s “Mack The Knife” tops the charts! Bobby had a string of hits early in the growth of rock’n’roll, following up 1958’s “Splish Splash” and “Queen Of The Hop” with “Dream Lover” in early 1959.

During Portland’s Oregon Centennial Exposition that September Bobby dropped by the KGW booth at the fair, sat in and ran my deejay show for an hour with hundreds of KGW listeners gathered outside the “fishbowl” in one of the main buildings. He introduced the audience to his new single release “Mack The Knife”.

It was quite a departure from the Bobby Darin we had known before. Here was an almost Sinatra-like approach to the hit song that Louis Armstrong had made famous. A new Bobby Darin had emerged and this song became his theme song. “Mack The Knife” was Bobby’s only number one song. He developed others in a similar vein, songs like “Beyond The Sea”, “Clementine”, “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey” and “Artificial Flowers”. Of all of his identities this “Mack The Knife” period was without question his most successful.

I found Bobby to be slightly arrogant and always trying to prove he was smarter than you. Some found his one-upmanship disagreeable, but growing up poor, I could see through the veneer to the real Bobby Darin. He set up a defensive shield to keep the world from knowing that there was a shy and insecure human being underneath. There is no question about his talent. Bobby Darin was a fine songwriter and an outstanding showman and musician.

Bobby died December 20, 1973 during heart surgery. His passing almost went unnoticed, but his music definitely stands the test of time. Here’s the Number 1 song on October 15, 1959: Bobby Darin and “Mack The Knife”.