From: The Associated Press (11-05-1999)

The singing senator:
Sen. Bobby Denton returns to his teen idol roots

Sen. Bobby Denton will perform songs from his new album during a special performance in Sheffield Friday night.

Sheffield, Alabama — Bobby Denton had all the right ingredients when he cut the local music industry's first hit record 42 years ago: blue eyes, blonde hair, boyish good looks, and a velvet voice.

But he walked away from a recording career in 1960 to devote more time to his growing family.

Now, he's finally back to singing the hits he made as a teen-ager.

"I ran from music all those years," said Denton, a state senator from Muscle Shoals.

"I didn't participate in music for so long, I think, because a big part of me was afraid to," he told the TimesDaily. "I wanted to, but I didn't know if I still could. That fear stood in my way for a long time."

Two years ago, Muscle Shoals producers Jimmy Johnson and Ava Aldridge persuaded Denton to cut a gospel album as a fund-raiser for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame's building project.

"I was intimidated being back in the studio, working with professional musicians who have done all these great hit records," Denton said. "But then, after I got over that, we finished the album and I did a few live shows. That's when I calmed down and thought, 'Why not?' "

After two successful gospel albums - "My God and I" was released in 1997, followed by "Hope" in '98 - the 61-year-old singer decided to return to the tender secular sounds that first transformed him into a '50s teen idol.

Denton's latest album, "Love Songs," features new versions of his signature tunes from the 1950s - the breakthrough single "A Fallen Star" and the subsequent hit "Sweet and Innocent."

As a teen-ager, Denton sang the latter tune (along with its flip side, "Back to School") to national television audiences on a 1958 broadcast of "The Dick Clark Show."

"My first notoriety in music was doing these kinds of country-flavored pop songs," Denton said. "I really do love gospel music, but I needed to put these songs back into my repertoire. This is who I am and where I'm from."

Denton will unveil the new "Love Songs" compact disc and perform the songs from it at 7 p.m. Friday at the Ritz Theater.

Denton was a Cherokee High School senior when he cut "A Fallen Star" - a song produced and penned by Muscle Shoals music pioneer James Joiner.

"Bobby had all the things you needed in an artist at that time," Joiner recalled. "He was the typical all-American teen-ager, with blue eyes and pretty blonde hair and that rich, velvety voice. He was the kind of artist little girls loved to see onstage. He had it all."

Denton also recorded with Florence-based music producer-promoter Judd Phillips, the brother of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, before leaving the business.

"Now, after all these years, I'm doing it again because I enjoy it," Denton said. "I'm not trying to prove anything. I'm not trying to be No. 1 in the country or No. 1 anywhere. I don't hunt or fish or do other hobbies. I do my public service and my day job, and music has become a great stress-reliever."


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