Saturday, February 04, 2017

Obituary: Bobby Freeman

Singer Bobby Freeman, 76, who had his major hit in 1958 with the incomparable "Do You Want to Dance," died on January 28.

Other artists, most notably the Beach Boys, covered this song, but Freeman's was by far the best. It was without a doubt one of the finest records of the 1950s.


We are sad to inform SoulTrackers of the death of 1950s recording star, Robert Thomas "Bobby" Freeman. Freeman died at his home in Austin, Texas. He was 76. An accomplished singer, songwriter and record producer, Freeman was best known for his two Top Ten hits, 1958’s "Do You Want to Dance" 1964’s "C'mon and Swim."

Freeman was born and raised in San Francisco, California. He started singing in a doo-wop group, the Romancers, in his early teens, and first recorded with them for Dootone Records in 1956. Their recordings included "House Cat", included on several later rock and roll compilations. However, the group soon fell apart, and Freeman started a new group, the Vocaleers (not to be confused with an earlier group of the same name who recorded "Is It a Dream").

He also recorded some solo demos, including "Do You Want to Dance", which were heard by a visiting record label executive, Mortimer Palitz of Jubilee Records. He signed Freeman to the label, and had the original recording overdubbed in New York by session musicians including guitarist Billy Mure. Released on the Jubilee subsidiary label Jamie, "Do You Want to Dance" quickly rose to number 5 on the pop chart and number 2 on the R&B chart in early 1958, when Freeman was still only 17. The song was covered later (as "Do You Wanna Dance") by Del Shannon, the Beach Boys, Johnny Rivers, Bette Midler, John Lennon, Cliff Richard, Marc Bolan & T.Rex, the Mamas & The Papas, Bobby Vee and the Ramones.

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