Born Robert John Pedrick. Jr., Brooklyn, New York City, 1946

Bobby Pedrick's recordings dented the Top 100 sporadically over four decades. Armed with a distinctively high tenor voice, he already scored his first hit at the ripe old age of twelve. His debut single, "White Bucks and Saddle Shoes", on the Bigtop label from New York City, entered the Billboard charts in November 1958 and peaked at # 74. In the UK it was released on London HLX 8740 and covered by the Vernons Girls on the Parlophone label (R 4497). The follow-up, "Pajama Party"/"Betty Blue Eyes" (Bigtop 3008), also sold reasonably well, but not enough to make the Hot 100. Bobby recorded without success on Shell in 1960 and Duel in 1962 and fronted the short-lived group Bobby and the Consoles on the Diamond label a year later. Their single "My Jelly Bean" was a regional New York hit. Pedrick next recorded for Verve and also moonlighted as a record producer.

In 1968 he began billing himself as Robert John. Under that name he had a # 49 hit in 1968 with "If You Don't Want My Love" on Columbia. After a further modest hit on A & M ("When the Party Is Over", # 71), he signed with Atlantic Records in 1971. Soon he landed a # 3 smash with a remake of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", produced by Hank Medress, who had sung on the # 1 Tokens version of that same song in 1961. This record showed that the vocal range of Pedrick's youth hadn't changed much. However, his only other chart entry on Atlantic, "Hushabye" (1972), stalled at # 99, and Robert John disappeared from the limelight until 1979, when he resurfaced on EMI America with a smooth self-composed pop ballad, "Sad Eyes", which went all the way to # 1.

Fred Bronson writes in his "Billboard book of Number One Hits" : "Robert John waited longer than any other artist for a number one record. From the time of his first appearance on the Hot 100 (as Bobby Pedrick, Jr.) on Nov. 10, 1958, with "White Bucks and Saddle Shoes", to the time he topped the chart on October 6, 1979, was 20 years and 11months. That record was eventually broken by Tina Turner ("What's Love Got To Do With It")."

For the complete Bronson entry regarding "Sad Eyes" see:

Four smaller hits followed, 1979-1983. Most of Robert John's post-Sad Eyes recordings were falsetto-infused reworkings of others' hits, like his final chart entry, a revival of the Newbeats' "Bread and Butter" for Motown.

"White Bucks and Saddle Shoes" is well worth collecting, but presently not easily available on CD. I have it on the Canadian 1997 release "House Party Hop, Vol. 5", which has bootleg written all over it. It's also on the Various artists compilation "Hey! Look What I Found, Vol. 2", the legality of which is also in doubt.

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