Bobby Freeman, who had major hits with Do You Wanna Dance and C’mon and Swim, has died at the age of 76.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Freeman began his recording career at the age of 14 with a group called the Romancers who were with Dootone Records and later formed The West Coast Vocaleers. He was just 17 when he entered the studio with a song he had written, Do You Wanna Dance, which was released on the Josie label, going to number 5 on the Top 100 and 2 on the R&B Singles.
Over the years, Do You Wanna Dance would bring Freeman a good income in royalties with additional versions hitting the charts by Cliff Richard and the Shadows (1962 / #10 U.K. / #3 Australia), Del Shannon (1964 / #43), the Beach Boys (1965 / #12), the Mamas and the Papas (1968 / #76), Jack Reno (1972 / #38 Country), Bette Midler (1973 / #17) and The Ramones (1978 / #86).
While not a major hit, Freeman’s next single, which he also wrote, has gone on to be an early rock standard, Betty Lou Got a New Pair of Shoes (1958 / #37 Pop / #20 R&B). He followed with a number of other singles that languished in the bottom half of the Hot 100 before, in 1964, he returned to the top ten with C’Mon and Swim (1964 / #5), a song written by Sylvester Stewart (Sly Stone).
Freeman had his last charting hit shortly thereafter and went on to concentrate more on soul music in the 70’s. While he never had another hit, Bobby remained a popular attraction in west coast clubs.
Here’s Bobby Freeman on the April 28, 1958 Saturday Night Beach-Nut Show performing Do You Wanna Dance. Skip past the interview of Tony Randall by Dick Clark to see the performance.