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Guide Profile: The Four Seasons

By

The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons

Formed:

1961 (Newark, NJ)

Genres:

Pop, Pop-Rock, R&B, Doo-Wop, Pop Vocal

Original Members:

Frankie Valli (b. Francis Castelluccio, May 3, 1937, Newark, NJ): lead vocals (falsetto)
Bob Gaudio (b. November 17, 1942, New York, NY): vocals (tenor), keyboards
Tommy DeVito (b. June 19, 1936, Montclair, NJ): guitar, vocals (baritone)
Nick Massi (b. Nicholas Macioci, September 19, 1935, Newark, NJ; d. December 24, 2000, Newark, NJ): bass guitar, vocal (bass)

Contributions to music:

  • Featured the glorious three-octave vocal range and amazing falsetto of lead Frankie Valli
  • Wrote and arranged their own hits, rare for a vocal group
  • Crafted heartbreaking, highly dramatic tales of teen romance
  • Took New York/NJ doo-wop to a new level of pop sophistication
  • Rivaled only the Beach Boys and the Beatles for popularity in the early Sixties

Early years:

The Four Seasons had been performing in vocal groups for years before stardom arrived -- they even had some limited national success in the 1950s as The Four Lovers. The Four Seasons as we know them, however, date back to 1961, when the Lovers changed their name, dropped the lounge-pop they had been doing, and aimed straight for the teen rock market with Philadelphia producer Bob Crewe. With songs mostly written by Gaudio and arranged by Massi, the change worked. "Sherry" became a hit in 1962.

Success:

What followed was a string of dramatic teen-romance hits that featured Valli's amazing falsetto, almost Spectorian production by Crewe, and the group's gorgeous harmonies (second only to the Beach Boys in this era). More remarkably, the hits didn't dry up when the British Invasion started -- indeed, Americans clung to the group as an example of NY/NJ doo-woppers taking it to the next level. Massi left in 1965, weary of constant touring, and was replaced by Joe Long.

Later Years:

The social consciousness of the late Sixties, however, did finally derail the group's success, and Valli went on to a poppier solo career. In 1975, the group reunited to simultaneously take advantage of the "oldies" revival ("December, 1963 [Oh, What a Night])" and show they could cut it with modern sounds, too (the disco of "Who Loves You"). The reunion was a success, but it was short-lived, and while Valli has reformed the group on occasion four touring, their success on the pop charts seems to have ended.

Other facts:

  • Valli's voice was so high as a teen that he perfected it by mimicing female singers like Dinah Washington
  • The Four Lovers hit "Apple Of My Eye" was offered to Valli as an apology for giving "Don't Be Cruel" to Elvis Presley instead of the Lovers
  • Met Elvis Presley while appearing as the Lovers on The Ed Sullivan Show
  • Renamed themselves after a bowling alley in Union, NJ
  • First white act signed to Vee-Jay Records
  • As The Wonder Who?, had a 1965 hit with Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice"

Awards/Honors:

  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1990)
  • Vocal Group Hall of Fame (1999)

Songs, Albums, and Charts:


#1 hits:
Pop:
  • "Sherry" (1962)
  • "Big Girls Don't Cry" (1962)
  • "Walk Like A Man" (1963)
  • "Rag Doll" (1964)
  • "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" (1976)
R&B:
  • "Sherry" (1962)
  • "Big Girls Don't Cry" (1962)
Top 10 hits:
Pop:
  • "Candy Girl" (1963)
  • "Dawn (Go Away)" (1964)
  • "Ronnie" (1964)
  • "Save It For Me" (1964)
  • "Let's Hang On!" (1965)
  • "I've Got You Under My Skin" (1966)
  • "Working My Way Back To You" (1966)
  • "C'mon Marianne" (1967)
  • "Tell It To The Rain" (1967)
  • "Who Loves You" (1975)
R&B:
  • "Walk Like A Man" (1963)
Top 10 albums:
Pop:
  • Sherry & 11 Others (1962)
  • Big Girls Don't Cry And Twelve Others (1963)
  • Dawn (Go Away) And 11 Other Great Songs (1964)
  • Rag Doll (1964)
  • The 4 Seasons' Gold Vault of Hits (1966)
Other important recordings: "Big Man's World," "Marlena," "Cry Myself To Sleep," "Big Man In Town," "Huggin' My Pillow," "Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby, Goodbye)," "Comin' Up In The World," "Everybody Knows My Name," "Silence Is Golden," "Beggar's Parade," "Girl Come Running," "Opus 17 (Don't You Worry 'Bout Me)," "Let's Ride Again," "Beggin'," "Saturday's Father," "Something's On Her Mind," "Genuine Imitation Life," "Silver Star"
Wrote or co-wrote: Bob Gaudio: "Short Shorts," The Royal Teens; "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore," The Walker Brothers
Covered by: The Tremeloes, The Weather Girls, The Bay City Rollers, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Del Shannon, Soft Cell, Lene Lovich, The Osmonds
Appears in the movies: "Beach Ball" (1965)
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