“Sleepin’ on the beach/Seven days a week/Rockin’ every night/Till the early bright,” sang teen idol Bobby Rydell on his 1963 hit, “Wildwood Days.” While he may not have partied to that extent, personally, he knew what he was singing about: Even though he grew up in Philadelphia, he regularly vacationed in the South Jersey resort town.
“My grandmother, my mom’s mom, had a boarding house in Wildwood,” Rydell told Mark Voger of The Star-Ledger in 2011. “I used to spend my childhood up until the time I started recording when I was 17 years old … I spent all my summers in Wildwood, N.J. It was phenomenal.
“I think the original record was recorded by the Dovells. They (Cameo Records) were going to release the record by the Dovells. I don’t know who made the decision. They said, ‘Well, you know, Bobby’s like, really, a Wildwood guy. Let’s let Bobby record it.’ ”
The song was a No. 17 hit for Rydell, who is now 73 and still touring, both on his own and as one of the Golden Boys (also featuring Fabian and Frankie Avalon).
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.