Six-decade career lands Darren in hall of fame

August 25, 2016

By David Nordby The Brillion News

“I don’t think it hit me yet,” classic country music singer Bobby Darren said, wearing his usual black attire and cowboy hat.

A career that has spanned six decades and brought worldwide travels will now include an induction into the National Traditional Country Music Hall of Fame on August 30, in LeMars, Iowa.

Born into a family of 12 in Kaukauna, Darren watched his parents Ike and Marge. Their career spanned from the 1920’s to the 1950’s and the family business didn’t take long for Darren to grab onto.

“I used to sneak my mom’s guitar until I broke a string,” Darren recalled. He fittingly later wrote a powerful song about it, and his family, which brought tears to the eyes of many audiences listening.

“Everything was so strict back then,” Darren said. “You didn’t touch anything without asking.” Darren couldn’t resist the guitar though.

Darren was self-taught on the guitar and began singing when he was seven. His rule as a teacher was pretty simple: if something sounded good he kept doing it.

“If something doesn’t sound right it just crinkles my bones, so that’s how you know. There must be talent born in you evidently,” Darren said. “We have a pretty sharp ear for music.”

Darren plays the guitar much different than the regular performer and has become known as “the man who plays the guitar upside down and backwards.”

Darren’s a lefty and strums up, where most left-handed musicians change the strings. An inexperienced musical eye doesn’t notice, but the people with musical knowledge are consistently in awe.

“There’s only three or four of us in the world that they know of that do it the way we do it,” Darren said. One of the others who did it that way? Jimi Hendrix.

Darren started singing when he was seven years old and by the time he was nine, he was getting paid for leads. “I didn’t have much of a childhood,” Darren said.

A couple years later he formed a group with his nephew, Jeffrey. At age 14 he was the leading man for Bobby Darren and the Drifters.

“Ten dollars a night. It went a long way back in the 60’s,” Darren said. He was able to fill his car with gas, get something to eat and make his bank payment.

Please see the complete story in the August 25, 2016 edition of The Brillion News. 

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