The son of a suburban New York schoolteacher, Orlando declined a classical music scholarship to pursue his then current musical interest, glam rock. In the late 1970s, his professional interests turned to disco and shortly thereafter, he established his own record label, “O” Records.
During the 1980s he produced, composed and performed on hundreds of music productions that he released under a myriad of record labels, including: “O” Records, Bobcat Records, Memo Records, Telefon Records, MenoVision Records, Beach Records, Plastic Records, Eurobeat Records, Obscure Records, Beat Box Records, Riovista Records, Intelligent Records, Basic Records, Knowledge Records and others. In the late ’80s, at the peak of his success, the one-man-band halted his extensive production output.
Orlando is credited as one of the founding fathers of Hi-NRG pop-dance music. His productions are easily identifiable by their dense synthesizers, rolling bass lines, and resounding percussion. Orlando tracks showcase him playing multiple instruments including keyboards, guitars, drums, percussion and saxophone. The ringing cowbell percussion lines and robotic sequencers heard in “She Has A Way”, “The Best Part Of Breakin’ Up”, and “Native Love (Step By Step)” define the electrifying sound he pioneered.
As a solo artist, Orlando scored hits with tracks “She Has a Way,” “How To Pick Up Girls,” and “I’m So Hot for You.” He created his project concept, The Flirts, to further front his performances. With its ever revolving roster of female session singers and models, Orlando churned out international hits “Passion,” “Danger,” and “Helpless,” which featured Orlando as the sole musician. His legendary association with underground film star Divine resulted in classic club anthems “Native Love (Step By Step)” (featuring Orlando’s voice in the chorus), “Love Reaction,” and “Shoot Your Shot.” He also is famed for founding The Fast, later to be known as Man 2 Man.
When Neil Tennant, then an assistant editor at Smash Hits, and later a member of Pet Shop Boys, was sent to interview The Police in 1983 in New York, he sought out Orlando. Both Tennant and fellow Pet Shop Boy Chris Lowe were impressed by Orlando’s sound and productions - “Passion,” by The Flirts, being a particular favorite. Orlando decided to produce Pet Shop Boys and released their earliest productions including the original ‘West End Girls’ and “One More Chance.”
Orlando produced and penned numerous hits that span multiple genres in mostly self-created groups and aliases, often just consisting of Orlando himself. He sang lead vocals in many of his groups including One, Two, Three (Another Knife In My Back, Runaway), The Now, Hippies with Haircuts, and Barbie & the Kens (Just a Gigolo). His productions were released under the names: Ian Darby, The Beat Box Boys, Spooge Boy, Something/Anything, New Breed, Jonny Bankcheck, Hotline, Banana Republic, Oh Romeo, Teenrock, The New York Models, Hippies With Haircuts, Girly, Barbie & the Kens, Wow, 1 plus 1, The He Man Band, The Boyd Brothers, Nancy Dean, Ian Darby with Ya Ya, Cha Cha featuring Don Diego, Yukihoro Takanawa, This is House, Joy Toy, Dressed To Kill, Band Of South, Dynasty featuring Dexter D, The Now, “One, Two, Three”, Darlene Down, The Fem-Spies, Gangsters of House, Girls Have Fun, Zwei Maenner, Gomez Presley, Gringo Lopez, Patty Phillipe, Malibu, Lilly & the Pink, Miss Tammi Dee, Mc Fritz and the P-Rockers, Charlene Davis, Claus V, Ronnie Goes to Liverpool, The Bang Gang, Bubba and The Jack Attack, Fascination, Free Enterprise, Sandra Ford, Future Generation, Citrus, The College Boys, Condo, The Bigalows, Free Expression, Lola, Lifestyle, I Spies, Latin 1, Kinski Music, Gina Desire, Beachfront, Vision 1 and others. Other aliases of Bobby Orlando include John “Gumball” Gonzales, C. Shore, Cha Cha Garcia, Klaus Vogel, Mein, B. Banora, Yuki, and Gato Perro.
Orlando’s songs frequently deal with philosophical themes such as “Try It (I’m in love with a married man),” which was given a contemporary twist when it was re-recorded by Pet Shop Boys in 2003. Many of Orlando’s lyrics describe unrequited love, private despair, personal angst and a truth-seeking perspective. Orlando frequently etched philosophical maxims into vinyl records featuring his songs; these adages being literally cut into the grooves near the “lead out” and “lock grooves” of the vinyl. Many of these are rare and are now collector items often selling for hundreds of dollars.
His music appears in numerous motion pictures, including: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, Wigstock: The Movie, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Valley Girl, Dark Mirror, Flying, High Risk, Rappin, Underground and others. In 2005, Dance-punk band “ShitDisco” from Glasgow Scotland, paid tribute to Bobby Orlando and The Flirts in their first single titled “Disco Blood”.
Orlando’s musical influence on many present day artists is vast and the sound he created routinely surfaces on Euro, Techno, Italo-disco, Electro, and Hi-NRG releases throughout the world. He has a large international following and is often cited by music historians for his immeasurable contribution to dance music.
His most recent releases are his 2012 CD “Primitive Primal Scream”, 2011 CD Social Contract Theory, his 2010, 2011 & 2012 Production Series, and his 2010 CD Bright Nothing World.