Bobby Sherman, who once set young hearts racing, now checks older hearts to see if they're racing too much.
The teen idol from the late '60s and early '70s is making his first concert tour in 25 years as part of the "Teen Idols" show coming to Nissan Pavilion tonight. Since the early '80s, however, he's been an emergency medical technician in Los Angeles and, since 1992, Officer Sherman, the L.A. Police Department's senior emergency training officer.
As plain old Bobby Sherman, he probably still causes occasional palpitations among old fans who wake up in an ambulance to Sherman's still-squeaky-clean countenance.
Sherman, who recently turned 55, says his "comeback" is simply a matter of timing. "K-Tel reissued all my albums on CD, I did my autobiography, Still Remembering You,' in 1996 and after the resurgence of the '50s and '60s, it just seemed it was time for the '70s."
The revival of "Grease" and the glut of disco-themed movies, the popularity of vintage sitcom and variety shows on cable, and the continued concert appeal of classic rock and soul acts from that period certainly underscores that notion. Still, Sherman says he had no dreams of a revitalized pop career until the producers of the "Teen Idols" tour invited him aboard with former Monkee Davy Jones and Peter Noone, titular leader of Herman's Hermits.
Even stepping back into the spotlight after so long wasn't the nightmare he anticipated.
"It's like riding a bike," Sherman says. "You don't need training wheels again. You kind of remember how to do it."
The onetime high school football star never thought of doing it at all until the mid-'60s, when he was discovered at a Hollywood party by the troika of Natalie Wood, Jane Fonda and Sal Mineo. They asked young Robert Cabot Sherman Jr. to sing, and Fonda introduced him to talent agent Jack Good, creator of ABC's rock-and-roll show "Shindig." Sherman soon became a regular on that show, where his winsome smile and fashionable shaggy mop top made him a favorite of the bubble-gum set.
Sherman moved up to true teen idol status in 1968, when he appeared in "Here Come the Brides," a comedy-adventure set in boom town Seattle in the 1870s. He starred as young logger Jeremy Bolt, so often at loggerheads with brother Joshua Bolt (David Soul). That television exposure soon produced results on the music front: Between 1969 and 1971, Sherman had seven Top 40 hits, including "Little Woman," "La La La (If I Had You)," "Easy Come, Easy Go" and "Julie, Do Ya Love Me." Concurrently, Sherman's smiling visage peered out from lunch boxes, posters, fan magazines and assorted merchandise.
"Here Come the Brides" ran for two seasons, followed by a starring role in a 1971 "Partridge Family" spinoff titled "Getting Together." This time Sherman was more accurately cast as a songwriter struggling to make it in the music business. Unfortunately, the sitcom was scheduled opposite "All in the Family," which explains why it lasted only half a season.
By then, Sherman was ready for a break.
"I'd film five days a week, get on a plane on a Friday night and go someplace for matinee and evening shows Saturday and Sunday, then get on a plane and go back to the studio to start filming again," he explains. "It was so hectic for three years that I didn't know what home was.
"I was disoriented -- I never knew where I was, always had to be reminded," Sherman adds. "But, in all honesty, I must say I had the best of times because the concerts were great, the fans were great. It was the proverbial love-in, but it just zapped so much out of me."
Without retiring, Sherman withdrew. He'd built a studio in his garage and over the years recorded scores for films and television shows; he would occasionally make guest appearances on series like "The Love Boat" and "Murder, She Wrote." Having delivered his two sons, Christopher and Tyler, Sherman was very involved in their upbringing. In fact, caring for the boys, now in their mid-twenties, is what brought him to emergency medicine.
"As kids grow up, they fall down, scrape their knees, get bloody noses," Sherman explains. "My ex-wife was very squeamish when it came to blood, especially our kids' blood, so it was kind of up to me. I took a basic first aid-CPR class, just in case, and found I had a knack for it. Eventually, if I'd be driving down the street and there was an accident and there was no medical help on hand, I'd get out and, since I usually had some stuff with me, I'd help."
With more training, Sherman graduated from EMT (emergency medical technician) to EMTD (adding skills in defibrillation) and then became an instructor for 10 years. When the Los Angeles Police Department heard about him, Sherman was invited to the force's training academy and in 1992 became a sworn police officer with LAPD, as well as its chief medical training officer.
"It's a labor of love to be able to teach these officers how to patch people up," says Sherman. "There's not a better feeling in the world than knowing these people are out there, helping someone out, saving someone's life." Sherman has even brought life into the world, delivering five babies in the field. "It's tremendously rewarding, which is why I always say in concert that everyone should take the time to learn first aid and CPR, because it works."
What's also working right now is the "Teen Idols" concept, both for the audience and for their suddenly busy idols. Sherman notes that he first met Noone while hosting him on "Shindig" and that they became reacquainted when Noone hosted him on VH1's early '90s series, "My Generation." And it was a guest appearance on "The Monkees" that landed Sherman his role in "Here Come the Brides."
"We're all good friends and we're having a blast," says Sherman. "But the bottom line is the audience -- they're half the show, as far as I'm concerned. It's their response, their enthusiasm that makes it feel like it's 1970. It's absolutely incredible."
It's not as if time has stood still -- no one in the '90s is as naive as that -- but certainly it's a way of conjuring up a more innocent era, right down to the teddy bears thrown onstage. "In a sense, audiences are doing exactly the things they did then," says Sherman. "Except now they're bringing their families, wives and mothers and husbands and kids, so we're appealing to the entire family unit. And in the wholesomeness of the show, they relive the past. They sing along and it's amazing -- they remember the lyrics better than I do, sometimes. It's wonderful. Everybody, including myself, gets transported back to a much more happier time." CAPTION: Sherman segued from teen dream in 1970, right, to Los Angeles emergency medical technician, above. CAPTION: Heartthrob Bobby Sherman, now back on the Teen Idol circuit, as (what else?) a rock musician on a 1976 television drama, "Jigsaw John."