Jersey Music Legends: Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
Music aficionado and Patch editor Mike Curci takes a look back at a group that took the Garden State and the world by storm.
With 29 records in the Billboard Top 40 -- including five number one hits -- Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons rank near the top of the list when it comes to New Jersey music icons.
The group, formed in Newark in 1956 as the Four Lovers, first charted in 1962 with the release of Sherry -- which spent five weeks at number one -- an amazing feat for a debut group.
Less than two months later, their distinctive sound landed Big Girls Don't Cry in the top Billboard spot for another five weeks.
As a comparison, the Monkees first two releases -- Last Train to Clarksville (one week) and I'm A Believer (seven weeks) -- also hit # 1 out of the gate. The Beatles launched their U.S. success with I Want to Hold Your Hand, which spent seven weeks at # 1, but it's important to remember that the Fab Four were much more anticipated than the Four Seasons were.
As a solo artist, Valli (born Frank Castellucio in 1937) hit the Top 40 nine times, reaching # 1 with My Eyes Adored You in 1975.
Here are five other things you may not have known about this gifted group.
1. Originally The Four Lovers, which many would say would have been a more appropriate name because of the repuation, the group was in search of a new name and reportedly found it when they saw a bowling sign which read "Four Seasons" while driving around the neighborhood. Soon after, a legendary group was born.
3. Led by one of the most distinctive voices in music history, the original band consisted of Frankie Valli as the lead singer, Bob Gaudio (formerly of The Royal Teens) on keyboards and tenor vocals, Tommy DeVito on lead guitar and baritone vocals, and Nick Massi on bass guitar and bass vocals.
4. These guys were smart beyond their years! While other artists and groups signed their lives away to cut a record, never reaping the full benefits of their talent or success, Valli and Gaudio weren't about to go that route. The pair put together an organization called Four Seasons Partnership, formed by Gaudio and Valli after a failed audition in 1961. Valli and Gaudio have been the guiding force since the beginning and each own fifty percent of the act and its assets, including most of its recording catalog.
5. With over 175 million records sold worldwide and a successful Broadway play developed in their honor, you can still catch Jersey Boy Frankie Valli in concert, and even though Bob Gaudio has retired from the stage, the Four Seasons will live on as one of the greatest recording acts in the history of music.
You can listen to the Four Seasons first two number one hits by clicking the links on this page. Enjoy the memories!
(Periodically, music aficionado and Patch editor Mike Curci will take a look back at New Jersey's music legends, noting some of the highlights of the careers that helped to shape the music scene.)