Bobby Gonzales started in the 1950’s with Bayani Casimiro’s entertainment group, Bayani’s Merry-Go-Round. He worked at the Clover Theater in the 50’s, when the Clover also featured stage shows – with movies as intermission – the theater signed him up as one of their regular performers. His vocal style likened to Frankie Lane and Johnny Rey.
Bobby became an instant hit at Clover Theater. Glittery American suits and sequined Barong Tagalog become his signature attire. As a headliner then, Bobby often had to sing as many as 20 songs per show – and there were three shows in one day (1, 3 and 9 p.m.)! This was the edge of Bobby Gonzales. He had a wide repertoire of songs. In every show, however, he had to sing Cry because the audience always asked for that. Next was Sunny Side of the Street.
Although Bobby was a headliner, the real superstar that time was the legendary Katy de la Cruz, who received P100 a day. Bobby’s starting salary was roughly P25 a day. The other headliners at Clover during Bobby’s time were the Reycard Duet, The Wing Duo, Tawag ng Tanghalan alumnus Berlin Meneses who broke the Clover record by singing 29 songs in the show and Diomedes Maturan.
Diomedes was Bobby’s chief rival at Clover Theater. In fact, when the Clover people put up a show for the ten top performers one time, they had to carefully work out the billing on the Marquee. Bobby eventually was billed ahead because he was more senior than Diomedes in the entertainment scene. But the Bobby-Diomedes rivalry was confined only on stage. Outside of the show, they were buddies.
But much as they wanted to hang around for a drink after the 9 p.m. show (which usually ended at 11) they couldn’t. A lot of times, Bobby, Diomedes and the other performers had to motor all the way to either Clark Field or Subic to do more shows for American audiences.
In between, Bobby and Diomedes still managed to squeeze in movies – with Diomedes doing a string of movies for LVN Pictures. On the part of Bobby Gonzales, he had the privilege of being in the company of no less than Fernando Poe Jr., as part of the famous ’50s teenage group Lo-Waist Gang along with Zaldy Zschornack and Boy Sta. Romana. Later Bobby and the rest of the gang moved to the Manila Grand Opera House and found similar success there. But in the early ’60s, Bobby and the rest of the Clover Theater gang left the local showbiz scene for a while and went Stateside. This was when the impressario husband of Shirley MacLaine came to the Philippines and invited Bobby, Katy de la Cruz, Diomedes Maturan, Baby Aguilar, the Reycard Duet and the other local entertainers to perform at Las Vegas.
After his Vegas stint, Bobby returned to the Philippines and even conquered local television. This was sometime in 1967. Pancho Magalona was then entering politics and had to take a leave from his daily grind as the main host of Magandang Tanghali in the old ABS-CBN Channel 3. Bobby was taken in to pinch-hit for Pancho.
Too bad for Pancho, he not only lost the elections (he ran for Rizal governor), but was also unable to return to his old hosting job. ABS-CBN decided to slightly reformat Magandang Tanghali, changed its title to Bigay-Hilig, but retained its cast – including Bobby Gonzales as main host.
When Bigay-Hilig was also cancelled after a couple of years and was replaced by Stop Look & Listen, Bobby Gonzales eventually flew to the US where he continued his singing career. He returned to Manila sometime in 1982 and made a special appearance as Sylvria la Torre’s co-presenter in the first Cecil Awards held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
When the government station, MBS-4 put up a Sunday Night variety show for Alma Moreno (entitled. The Other Side of Alma), Bobby was taken in as a regular co-host. But this show didn’t really last very long on Channel 4. Bobby again found himself migrating to the US. Nothing much was heard of him after that and he unfortunately became ill and passed away in 2002.
Here we have an instrumental version with Tagalog lyrics of “See You Later, Alligator” a 1950s rock and roll song written and first recorded by American singer-songwriter Bobby Charles. The song was a Top Ten hit for Bill Haley and His Comets in 1956. The B-side also an instrumental version with Tagalog lyrics “Rock Around the Clock” a rock and roll song in the 12-bar blues format written by Max C. Freedman and James E. Myers (the latter being under the pseudonym “Jimmy De Knight”) in 1952. The best-known and most successful rendition was recorded by Bill Haley & His Comets in 1954 for American Decca.