BOBBY SHERMAN was once the Bubblegum King. Sherman's 12 gold records, including "Julie, Do Ya Love Me" and "Easy Come, Easy Go," netted over $20 million. The teen fanzines, "Tiger Beat," "16," "Teen Scene," et al., displayed his face in every issue. He starred in three television series before age 30.
But everyone grows up, and fans and teen dreams are not exempt. Bobby Sherman was replaced by another face in the hearts of the next wave of pre-teen consumers.
"I always think of my career as a conglomerate of fast-thinking and wheeler-dealer kinds of people, capitalizing obviously on that kind of a phenomenon. I certainly wasn't thinking of it that way myself; I was too numb at that point."
Sherman was "discovered" at a Beverly Hills party and auditioned for "Shindig," sort of a rock 'n' roll "Your Hit Parade," which aired on ABC from 1964 to 1966 with Sherman as a regular. "Everybody that had a record would come in and sing the record on the show, via videotape or live, including the Beatles and the Stones. Glen Campbell used to be one of the house guitarists, the Righteous Brothers and Sonny and Cher sang . . . That's where I got interested in the technical end of it. Next thing you know, I'm building a recording studio and putting together a cinemobile. I really got the bug quick. I thought, even if I'm not in this business that long as an entertainer, I'd like to get involved in the other part of it."
After a guest shot on "The Monkees," Sherman was cast as stuttering Jeremy Bolt, the ingenuous younger brother in ABC's "Here Come the Brides," set in a Seattle logging camp. The short-lived "Getting Together," a spinoff of "The Partridge Family," followed in 1970. "We were on for about 15 weeks, but we were up against 'All in the Family,' " Sherman remembers. "I already knew what 'Getting Together' was because I shot it every week, so I'd go home and watch 'All in the Family.' So I probably didn't help my ratings."
Suddenly, it was no longer Bobby Sherman, actor, but Bobby Sherman, PRODUCT. Sherman's choirboy countenance drained the allowances of the nation's teens with book covers, jewelry, dolls and lunch boxes. "They sold everything you could think of. I think they realized the merchandising potential with the Monkees, so they were really prepared by the time I did it," Sherman says. "Remember the records on the backs of cereal boxes? I got a lot of angry letters from parents, saying their kids would force the parents to buy the cereals. They never touched the cereal, but they'd have these holes cut out of the boxes. I kept telling them to put the record in the box, not on it.
"I'd walk out into a concert and there would be 15,000 screaming kids," says Sherman, who did as many as 112 dates a year. "I could have lip-synched the Supremes' records and nobody would have known the difference. My audience was very young, 9 to 14, and they would bring their parents along, and they were half the show. If they wanted to hear me, they'd go home and put on a record, but during a concert they wanted to yell at me and get my attention and wave."
Now 38, Sherman works mostly behind the scenes, although he admits to "a bit of the itch to get back into acting." Besides TV movies and the obligatory guest spots on "The Love Boat," he has his own cable production company and 24-track recording studio near his home in the San Fernando Valley in California, where he has produced and scored several commercials and made-for-TV movies. He's also producing a new record for country singer Bobbie Gentry ("Ode to Billy Joe"). Recently divorced from his wife, Patti, Sherman says he also spends time with his two sons, Christopher, 8, and Tyler, 7, for whom he built a $15,000 replica of Disneyland's "Main Street" in his back yard.
And for his now-older fans, now a powerful demographic consumer group, there's a new album, "Remembering You," which Sherman and Ward Sylvester, his manager and partner, plan to distribute themselves next month. "I remixed the masters on a couple of the old hits, and added a few new tunes that I think are a little more me. One song I love is called 'I'll Never Stop Singing My Song.' I think it's a statement that I'm saying to myself, even if I'm not saying it to anybody else."