Teen Idols of the Past: Fabian

Introduction to Fabian

Fabian (born Fabiano Anthony Forte in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1943) is an American entertainer who rose to become a teen idol in the 1950s-1960s. He made his mark in show business as a singer and recording artist, singing tunes written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. His well-known songs during his heyday include “I’m a Man,” “Turn Me Loose,” “Tiger,” “Come on and Get Me,” “Hound Dog,” “This Friendly World,” “String Along” and “About This Thing Called Love.” All of these singles were released on Chancellor label, and also became Top 40 hits. When Fabian was 18, he elected to buy out his contract from his manager Bob Marucci and withdrew from singing as well. Fabian moved on to acting, appearing on films (Hound-Dog Man, North to Alaska, High-Time, Mr. Hobbs Take a Vacation, Up Close and Personal) as well as on television (The Eleventh Hour, The Rat Patrol). He briefly made a comeback to singing in the 1970s and then in the 1980s and beyond.


Early life and entering show business

Fabian is best remembered as a teen idol especially during the 50s music era and also for his breakthrough hit “Tiger” in 1959. Fabian was born Fabiano Anthony Forte on February 6, 1943 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the eldest of three children. His father, a police officer, died early due to heart attack. Therefore, the 10-year old Fabian had to help his family to make ends meet by being employed as a janitor assistant in their apartment buiding. He attended South Philly High School where he played for several sports teams and joined the glee club.

Fabian grew up in the the Philadelphia’s South Side where the other teen idols Frankie Avalon and Bobby Rydell originated. Chancellor Records founders Bob Marucci and Peter DeAngilis went to the area as they thought it was the ideal place to look for new talents. Reportedly, Marucci discovered Fabian while the latter was grieving over his father, who was about to be taken in an ambulance. Marucci did not hesitate to give his card to Fabian. With the support of his family, Fabian accepted the offer because his father was not yet able to work after returning from the hospital.

Marucci and DeAngelis did a complete makeover on Fabian and also worked on his singing voice as well.




Peak years

In 1958, Fabian issued his debut single on Chancellor called “Shivers”(b/w “I’m in Love”). Bigger successes for Fabian followed, releasing the singles “Turn Me Loose” and “Tiger.” Both songs registered on the Top 10 of the Billboard chart at #9 and #3 respectively. The latter also made to the R&B chart at #15. “Tiger” was noted as Fabian’s biggest hit throughout his career.

When he had his debut appearance on American Bandstand, his previous single “I’m a Man” started to sell. Another single made to the Top 10 in 1959 with “Hound Dog Man” (#9) that would later become his first movie as well and performed the title song. It led to several movie appearances in 1960 like High Time and  North to Alaska.



Later career

From late 1959 to late 1960,  Fabian’s releases became minor hits such as “Come and Get Me” (#29), “Got the Feeling” (#54), “This Friendly World” (#12), “Strike Along” (#39) and “About This Thing Called Love” (#31). After that, he move to Los Angeles and became more focused on his acting career.

Fabian, with his own share of misdemeanors and lousy career choices – including posing nude for Playgirl magazine in 1973 – soldiered on. He is still active singing, playing about “25 shows a year,” according to Fabian himself. In addition to that, he and his current third wife are also employed for Gladys Magazine.

Fabian’s songs are truly loved by fans, young or old, who truly realize the beauty of the 1950s-1960s oldies music.