Born Francis Castellucio - 3 May 1937 Newark, New Jersey
I last saw Frankie live a few years ago at the London Palladium. His band – the Four Seasons (Not the original members) played a couple of their hit songs and then, to the opening notes of “Sherry” on to the stage walked the man himself. The whole audience stood up to applaud him and, visibly surprised, he stopped his band and said – "I owe you all an apology. At this time, in front of such an audience, I love every moment – but it is just the touring that I dislike - that prevents me seeing you so much". He then went on to give such a great show.
As can be seen , he came from New Jersey , as did his original band of the brothers Nick and Tommy Devito and Hank Majewski. That gives the title of the current West End hit show “ The Jersey Boys”. If you have not seen it, do go – it is a factual story of their life, as a band, with many of their songs.
The band started off as the Variatones and then The Four Lovers but it was when a young singer song writer, Bob Gaudio, joined them that their fortunes changed. Many of their hit songs were penned by him They changed the name to the Four Seasons and, released “ Sherry “ which reached number 1 in the USA in September 1962. A brilliant example of falsetto harmony pop. Two months later they were back with “Big girls don’t cry “ and the powerful “Walk like a Man“. All of these hits were underpinned by lustrous soaring harmonies.
Their international fame continued throughout 1964 when they were facing fierce competition from the Beatles but , “ Dawn (go away) “ reached No. 3, and the sublime “ Rag Doll “ bought them back to the top in the summer of 1964. Frankie also enjoyed solo hits including “Can’t take my eyes off you “. To keep up with the changing musical tastes Frankie had to change his style and in 1971 he was receiving unexpected success in the UK thanks to a northern soul dance floor song “ You’re ready now “, which reached no.11 in 1971. Throughout the 1970’s the membership of the Four seasons was erratic and Bob Gaudio retired from performing to concentrate on producing.
Frankie was back in 1975 with “My eyes adored you “ and reached no. 3 with “Who loves you“. Immense success followed as the group became part of the disco boom. The nostalgic “Oh what a night“was a great transatlantic number 1 in 1976 and who can forget the title song from the film Grease. Still touring in the USA it has been reported that during his visits to the UK to advice on “The Jersey Boys” he said that, if the show was a success, he would do a live show in the UK! I just hope that he does. If you see any proposed concert please let me know.
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons have become an institution whose history spans several music eras, from the Barber shop harmonies of the 50’s to the disco beat of the 70’s and beyond. It is however the timeless hit singles of the 60’s to which he is indelibly linked.
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