The movie of Frankie Avalon’s life might be called “Beach Blanket Grease Proves Eight Is Enough.”
Well, there is no such movie but watching Frankie Avalon in concert Monday at The Sharon meant witnessing the story of his life.
It was all there in a warm, funny, nostalgic show filled with film clips, photos, family albums and, most of all, music.
On stage, Avalon charmed the people in the seats with vivid memories of:
His early days in South Philly.
Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.”
On the beach with Annette.
Hollywood movies and nightclub stages.
Happy days with rock and roll buddies Elvis, Rick Nelson, Bobby Darin and Bill Haley.
Playing Teen angel in “Grease.”
Having eight kids with Kathryn, his wife of 54 years.
And, finally, capturing nostalgia market as an eternal Golden Boy.
Put it all together and you have the world’s only 76-year-old teenager —Frankie Avalon.
“We’re today to reminisce about the old days,” Avalon said early on in his 75-minute show. “I can’t believe how the years have gone by.”
Avalon does not possess a powerful voice, but he knows how to sell a song, act out a story and entertain an audience.
That’s what he did all night long.
There were a couple of surprising highlights. The first was an energetic tribute to the Everly Brothers. Edan Everly – Don Everly’s son – plays guitar in Avalon’s band.
He and Avalon teamed up for vocals on such classic Everly Brothers’ songs as “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Dream” and “Bye Bye Love.”
“Edan’s uncle Phil (Everly) died a few years ago but we want to keep this music alive,” Avalon said. Edan Everly played hot and gritty guitar licks that added punch to the faster songs.
Avalon’s son Frankie, also turned up the heat on drums.
“He’s my oldest of eight children,” Avalon said. “We’re both the same age – 53.”
Avalon showed family film clips of each of the kids as a young child. Also in the video was his wife, Kathryn, who seemed in a state of perpetual pregnancy, after having 8 children in about 10 years.
Another highlight came when Avalon brought back memories of going to a dance as a kid in the 1950s. He acted out scenes of asking a girl to dance and being turned down.
He sang some of his early hits including “Dee-Dee-Dinah,” from 1957, his first big single 60 years ago. Other hits included “Ginger Bread,” “Bobby Sox to Stockings” and “Just Ask Your Heart.”
More memories came when Avalon showed film clips of his “Beach” movies with the late Annette Funicello. Avalon then talked about his relationships with some of rock’s biggest names, as their pictures flashed on a big screen behind the stage.
He met Elvis and Rick Nelson on movie sets. Avalon and Bobby Darin were struggling singers who shared a room in a cheap New York City hotel. Avalon did rock bus tours with Bill Haley.
Avalon then went into the audience and waltzed around The Sharon, sharing smiles and songs with his fans.
“This song I hold close to my heart,” Avalon said, as he sang one of his biggest hits, “Venus.” He added: “Music is a feeling and memory you will never forget.”
It was that way for “Beauty School Dropout,” Avalon’s smash from the 1978 movie “Grease.” A video from the movie was played on the big screen and then Avalon sang it live.
“That was the most watched musical movie of all time,” Avalon said with pride, “and it grossed more money than any other musical.”
Long before “Grease” Avalon was listening to doo-wop music. “When I was a kid in South Philly, we used to stand outside on street corners listening to this music,” he said.
Then came a sing-a-long medley of such oldies but goodies as: “Silhouettes,” “Twilight Time,” “Earth Angel,” and “Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight.”
Avalon talked about another of his No. 1 hits, “Why.”
“This song was No. 1, on Dec. 31, 1959,” he said. “It was the last No. 1 song of the 1950s.”
So, the 1950s ended not with a bang – but with Frankie Avalon.
That decade is long gone but Frankie Avalon is still going strong.