He was one of the first of the teen idols to capture fans' hearts. Today, legendary singer Frankie Avalon is still entertaining admirers and retro music lovers with his engaging shows filled with hits such as "Venus," "Why" and "Beauty School Dropout."
Avalon is scheduled to perform two shows in Chicagoland next week. He'll take the stage at 1:30 p.m. Monday, May 19 and Tuesday, May 20 at Drury Lane Oakbrook in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.
"I've loved playing there," he said about Drury Lane, where he's graced the stage before as well as other theaters that were part of the Drury Lane family through the years.
The singer said he's long been a fan of Chicago-area audiences as well as the city itself. "I love the people," he said, adding he's grateful for the fans and the friendships he's made through the years he's been touring.
"The most important thing is the fact they didn't ever leave me." His fan base remains supportive and dedicated.
Avalon's history of playing the Chicago area is rich and varied. He's performed at places such as Navy Pier and the former Edgewater Beach Hotel. Back in the mid-'90s and early 2000's, he even performed a mini show featuring his hits during the popular interactive theater piece "Tony and Tina's Wedding" in Chicago's Old Town where he played the role of Tina's Godfather.
While "Tony and Tina's Wedding" was also a hit in New York, Avalon said he starred only in the Windy City version of the comical show.
"I only did it in Chicago because it was very well done." He commented he not only enjoyed doing that show but it also gave him a chance to bring his wife and other family members to the city since he'd perform a couple of weeks or so at a time in the production.
Avalon said Drury Lane audiences this time around can expect a concert featuring his '50s and '60s hits as well as popular tunes from his beach party movies with Annette Funicello and more. The singer said after all the years of touring and performing, he's still enjoying his career.
"The most important thing about being a true performer is just enjoying getting up on stage and making people happy. I'm in a profession that's really very uplifting," he said.
When he listens to other artists' work, Avalon usually gravitates toward the retro music makers.
"I still love the '50s and '60s," he said, counting Nat King Cole and Sinatra among favorites. He believes the music of that time was, and still is, special.
"I don't down what's happening today but there were the wonderful melodies and something you could get emotional about" in that music.
The singer, who looks back on his beach party movie making days with Annette, with fondness, said he misses the actress/singer. Funicello, who fought a long battle with multiple sclerosis, died in April 2013.
"We just had the same mutual admiration for each other. We were friends. And I was godfather to her daughter Gina. I miss her dearly," Avalon said.
In addition to a regular touring schedule across the country, Avalon is also busy at work on another creative project.
"I'm in the midst of doing a cookbook for St. Martin's Press," he said. The cookbook will feature dishes he's created and family recipes his mother gave him. There's no formal release date yet.
FYI: Frankie Avalon performs at 1:30 p.m. May 19 and 20 at Drury Lane Theatre, 1 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. Tickets are $65. For more information, call (630) 530-0111, (800) 745-3000 or visit drurylane.com.