The Fabulous Vocal Group The Four Seasons
During the 1960s The Four Seasons were one of the most successful white vocal groups. They had a series of great hits singles between 1962 and 1967. Fans just loved Frankie Valli’s piercing falsetto (three octave) voice. The group’s career spanned almost 40 years and during that time Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons sold more than 100 million records.
Influenced by Other Bands and Singers
Frankie Valli came into this world as Francis Castelluccio in 1937 in Newark, New Jersey. It was his mother who encouraged his interest in music. She would take him to hear the Big Bands of this era at the Adams Theater, in Newark and the Paramount Theater in New York City. What fascinated Valli the most was jazz and groups such as The Four Freshman, the Hi-Los and The Modernaires. He also enjoyed classic R&B bands like The Clovers and The Drifters. He taught himself to sing by doing impressions of various artists. Due to his unnaturally high voice he focused on singers like Rose Murphy and Dinah Washington.
Valli was ready to be a singer at the tender age of seven when he saw a young Frank Sinatra perform at the Paramount Theater. He made his first solo recording “My Mother’s Eyes” in 1953. In 1956 as part of the group The Four Lovers along with brothers Nick and Tommy DeVito and bassist Hank Majewski signed on with RCA Victor Records. They had a minor hit with “You Are the Apple of My Eye”. After the recording the group performed in different lounges.
First Wave of Success
The group found themselves on the Ed Sullivan Show with another rising star – Elvis Presley. In 1960 group members DeVito and Majewski were replaced by Bob Guadio and Nick Massi and in 1961 the name of the group was changed to The Four Seasons. They recorded an unsuccessful song “Bermuda” for Gone Records late switching to Vee-Jee Records. They came up with their first number one hit “Sherry” in 1962. Other hits followed like “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Walk Like a Man”, “Candy Girl” and “Alone”.
Rising to the Top
Their great hit “Sherry” earned them their first gold record after they appeared on “American Bandstand” and the song was widely received. It became one of the fastest rising songs ever released. It was in 1964 when The Four Seasons signed on with Phillips Records that everything seemed to shine for them They placed six songs in the Top Twenty – “Stay”, “Dawn (Go Away)”, “Ronnie”, “Rag Doll”, “Big Man in Town” and “Save It for Me”.
Twenty years after Valli had admired Frank Sinatra’s performance at The Paramount Theater The Four Seasons found themselves for a crowd of screaming fans in 1966. In 1967 their song “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” made it on the charts to number two.
Two other songs by The Four Seasons which are among my favorites are “Bye Bye Baby Goodbye” and “Tell It to the Rain”.
They came out with a most unsuccessful album Genuine Imitation Life Gazette in 1968 with songs like “Genuine Imitation of Life” and “Soul of a Woman”. In 1970 they had another flop with the single “Patch of Blue”. The Four Seasons has no record label to record under for several years until they joined Mo-West. They came out with another not too successful album Chameleon in 1972 and afterwards didn’t record together until 1975.
Valli made a solo comeback in 1974 with the number one hit “My Eyes Adored You” which became certified double platinum. This was followed by two more singles in 1975 “Swearin’ to God” and “Our Day Will Come”.
The Four Seasons got together in 1975 to record under the Warner Bros. label and release “Who Loves You” which returned them to the Top Ten. The following year they had a number one hit with “December 1963 (Oh What a Night)”. Both songs were co-written by Gaudio.
Break-up and New Success
The Four Season broke up in 1977. Valli rose to popularity in 1978 with the release of the soundtrack Grease. He sang the title track for the popular movie “Grease” set in the 1950s and starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. He also had a cameo role in the movie playing himself. The song “Grease” was written by Bee Gee Barry Gibbs and sung by Valli. It became a triple platinum hit.
The Four Seasons came together again in 1980 and formed FBI Records in 1984. The new formation of the group included six members. They came out with the song “Hope and Glory” in 1992. A lot of their best known songs are performed in clubs and concerts. They were recognized for their impact on popular music in 1990 and inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. New generations are discovering their hits and enjoying them.
In 2002 the music album The Very Best of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons was released on Rhino Records. The album hit number one in New Zealand and sold more than 500,000 copies in the U.S.