'It just hurt him so badly': Friend says Bobby Curtola died with broken heart
Music lovers of a certain generation are mourning the loss of former Canadian teen idol and singer Bobby Curtola, who lived in Nova Scotia for many years.
Curtola passed away on the weekend at the age of 73 and at least one of his closest friends believes he died with a broken heart.
Curtola’s partner Karyn Rochford was killed in a collision on Highway 103 in Maitland, N.S. on Dec. 15. He took to the stage in Peterborough, Ont. just a few days later, singing in her memory.
“I know it just hurt him so badly but … he went through with it,” says longtime Nova Scotia broadcaster Frank Cameron, whose friendship with Curtola spanned decades.
Cameron says he tried to call his old friend a few weeks ago but the line had been disconnected.
While Curtola and Rochford had settled in Port Mouton, N.S., the singer died in Edmonton while staying with his son.
“I think the reason he moved to Edmonton was that everything in Nova Scotia reminded him of her,” says Cameron.
Curtola's career began at 16, after he recorded his first hit single "Hand in Hand With You."
A teen idol in Canada during the early 1960s, Curtola also made his mark internationally in 1962 with the singles "Fortune Teller" and "Aladdin."
Curtola's work in the 1960s yielded 25 Canadian Gold singles and 12 Canadian Gold albums, according to a biography on his website.
Cameron says he feels privileged to have been along for the ride.
“We went to Truro on a mini-tour one time, out of Halifax, and the girls in Truro tried to rip his clothes off,” recalls Cameron.
Also a savvy businessman, Curtola signed a deal with the biggest soft drink company in the world.
“I think Bobby was the first to do a commercial Coke jingle and it was actually a hit,” says Jimmy Donnelly, who owns a record shop in Halifax.
As time passed the hits stopped coming, but Curtola continued to perform and did plenty of charity work, including appearances on CTV Atlantic’s Christmas Daddies Telethon.
Curtola was named to the Order of Canada in 1997 and received a Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and a Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Bruce Frisko and The Canadian Press