By 1972, Bobby Darin was long past his “Splish-Splash” rock ‘n’ roll beginnings and the supper club success that followed. He’d moved from his successful home at Atco records to the new confines of Capitol records where the supper club hits began to dry up.
The late ‘60s was a turbulent time in our country and, especially in Darin’s life. He was deeply dedicated to supporting Bobby Kennedy in his 1968 bid for the presidency, and was present at the Ambassador Hotel the night he was assassinated.
Shortly thereafter, he was told that the girl he thought was his sister was actually his mother, and that he’d been brought up by his grandparents and not his parents. If you find this scenario confusing, you can imagine how much it blew Darin’s mind, sending him into seclusion.
With his personal issues as a backdrop, Darin launched his own Direction Record label in 1969 whose goal was to release records with messages that reflected his political views and supported the direction he thought the country should be going in. During his live shows of the time he refused to take requests for “Mack The Knife” and his other hits, choosing to perform his own original folk songs. Needless to say, his Direction Records period turned Darin’s career in the wrong direction…
Darin’s health was also failing. As a child, he suffered from rheumatic fever which severely weakened his heart muscle, making him see his whole career as a race against time. He underwent surgery in 1971 in an effort to improve his condition.
During the early 1970s, Motown Records was also in transition, moving its headquarters away from Detroit to California where Berry Gordy was directing Diana Ross in the film Lady Sings The Blues. Darin signed with the label in 1970 with the hope of moving in a more soulful direction to revive his career, and was also soon back on TV again hosting The Bobby Darin Amusement Co. variety show on NBC.
Motown recorded Darin in concert for a planned and then shelved album release called Live At The Desert Inn and instead chose to release two non-LP Motown singles (including a cover of Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” released as a B-side). In 1972, the label released his eponymously titled debut album for Motown featuring several original tunes, as well as some well-chosen covers including Cat Stevens’ “Hard Headed Woman,” and Randy Newman’s “Sail Away” (today’s Song Of The Day), which were both coupled together for a single release that ultimately failed to chart. A second single, “Average People” b/w “Something in Her Love” met a similar fate as did the album, which quickly faded into obscurity.
The album was the last Bobby Darin record to be released during his lifetime. In 1973, Darin contracted sepsis after a dental visit that weakened his system, sending him into the hospital where he underwent two surgeries to repair both artificial heart valves. He died during surgery on December 20th 1973 at the age of 37.