As English Canada's only 'teen idol' in the early 1960s, Curtola specialized in what the Hurdons called "rock-a-ballads" and sang in what Frank Rasky described as a 'silvery tenor' with 'a soft-sweet quality.' Curtola toured widely in Canada until 1967, his performances often creating hysteria among his young audiences. In 1968 he turned to a nightclub career, first in Canada and then, after 1972 and into the 1980s, for part of each year in Las Vegas (where he opened for Louis Armstrong). He recorded sporadically during the 1980s, sometimes using the name Boby Curtola, or just Curtola. Releases in 1990 from RBI and RCA/BMG found him singing in a country-gospel style and included the modest Canadian hit 'Playin' in the Shadows of Glory.'
Curtola's musical career benefited from the 1990s' nostalgia wave; he was active singing at clubs, telethons, cruise ships, and conventions into the 2000s. His recordings during this period included Christmas Flashback (Tartan, 1992), Gotta Get Used to Being Country (Tartan, 1993), Turn the Radio Up and Reflections: Legend to Legend (both Tartan, 1997). He toured Canada and Malaysia in 1998, and Europe in 2001. He also embarked on other business ventures, eg a tomato drink company.
Curtola proved it was possible to succeed in pop music and still live in Canada, thus breaking ground for later Canadian pop musicians. He was an innovator on a number of musical fronts: he was one of the first Canadians (along with Paul Anka) to be offered a multimillion dollar contract in Las Vegas; and his jingle "Things go better with Coke" was the first commercial to sound like a hit pop record. In addition to material by the Hurdon brothers, Curtola recorded songs by Anka, Ben McPeek, Gary Buck and Gene MacLellan. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1997, and is in the Coca Cola Hall of Fame.
Wallace, Clarke. 'How Bobby Curtola makes a living,' Weekend Magazine, 11 Jan 1964
Rasky, Frank. 'Bobby Curtola: Canada's prince of wails,' Star Weekly, 18 Jan 1964
Ashwell, Mary. 'Bobby's beat in tune with teenagers,' Liberty, 31 Mar 1964
Epstein, Anita. 'Bobby Curtola's earning (boy is he ever earning) and learning too,' The Canadian, 22 Jul 1967
"Basil Hurdon dead at 59," RPM Weekly, 17 Jun 1972
"Canada's Mr. Cool," Winnipeg Free Press, 21 Jan 1996
Lofaro, Tony. "Italian prince of song joins Order of Canada," Ottawa Citizen, 30 Jan 1998
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Music Hall of Fame
The website for the Canadian Music Hall of Fame from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS).
Search this site for brief biogarphies of recipients of honours and awards presented by the Governor General of Canada.
With this online collection of digitized charts from RPM, visitors can check out the rankings of their favourite tunes of yesteryear. From Library and Archives Canada.
Check out this biography and discography for the ’60’s Canadian rock sensation Bobby Curtola. A CANOE website.
Listen to Bobby Curtola’s hit song “Fortune Teller” and other tunes at this myspace.com website.
Shake, Rock, and Roll
A brief article about “Shake, Rock and Roll” a CTV show hosted by Bobby Curtola. From the website for the Canadian Communications Foundation.
This day in history: Curtola takes side door to avoid mob
A look back at Bobby Curtola’s hectic 1965 visit to Victoria. From the website for Victoria’s Times Colonist newspaper.
Bobby Curtola Drive Officially Opens Today
Bobby Curtola attends the dedication of Bobby Curtola Drive in his hometown of Thunder Bay. From the website for the City of Thunder Bay.
Bobby Curtola Shaw Edmonton Interview September 3, 2010
Watch a video clip of an interview with veteran Canadian pop star Bobby Curtola. From YouTube.com.
Bobby Curtola Promo Reel
View a series of clips featuring the interminable Canadian pop star Bobby Curtola. From Bobby Curtola's channel on YouTube.
Bobby Curtola - Live
Bobby Curtola performs at his 65th birthday celebration. From YouTube.