The Four Seasons (band)
|The Four Seasons|
|Also known as|| The 4 Seasons
The 4 Seasons featuring the "sound" of Frankie Valli
Frankie Valli and The 4 Seasons
|Origin||Newark, New Jersey|
|Genres||Pop, Rock, Disco|
|Labels||Vee-Jay Records, Philips Records, Motown, Warner Bros. Records, MCA, Curb|
|Associated acts|| The Four Lovers
The Wonder Who?
Frankie Valli (as "solo" artist)
| Frankie Valli
currently group membership fluctuates
| Tommy DeVito (1960-1970)
Nick Massi (né Macioci) (1960-1965)
Bob Gaudio (1960-1971)
Charles Calello (1965)
Joe Long (né LaBracio) (1965-1975)
Bob Grimm (1970-1971)
Gary Volpe (1970-1971)
Al Ruzicka (1971-1972))
Joseph Steffanelli (1971-1972)
Demetri Callas (1971-1974)
Clay Jordan (1972-1973)
Billy DeLoach (1972-1973, 1996-1997, 1998-2000)
Paul Wilson (1972-1973)
Lee Shapiro (1973-1980)
Gerry Polci (1973-1977, 1979-1982, 1987-1990)
Don Ciccone (1974-1979, 1981-1983)
John Paiva (1975-1977)
Robbie Robinson (1978-1998,2000-?)
Jerry Corbetta (1979-1985)
Larry Lingle (1981-1993)
Lynn Hamman (1982-1988)
Chuck Wilson (1982-1992)
Robin Swenson (1985-1986, 1988-1990)
Howard Laravea (1986-1988)
Tim Stone (1990-1997)
Fino Roverato (1993-2000)
Adrian Baker (1994-1995)
Tommy Alvarado (1994-2000)
Warren Hamm (1997-2000)
Rich Callaci (1998-2000)
Steve Gregory (2001-2005)
Keith Hubacher (2001-?)
Matt Baldoni (2005-?)
Gary Melvin (2006-?)
The Four Seasons is an American pop and rock group, with a sound somewhat reminiscent of doo-wop, although they were not thought of as actually being a doo-wop group. By the mid 1960s, they had become an internationally famous rock-and-roll act (the Vocal Group Hall of Fame has stated that it was the most popular rock band before The Beatles). Since 1967, they have been known off and on as Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, though not identified as such on any of their records.
In 1960, the group known as The Four Lovers evolved into The Four Seasons, with 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 (Massi was replaced in 1965 by Charles Calello, who was in turn replaced later in 1965 by Joe Long on bass guitar and bass vocals).
The legal name of the organization is the Four Seasons Partnership, formed by Gaudio and Valli after a failed audition in 1961. While singers, producers, and musicians have come and gone, Gaudio and Valli remain the group's constant (with each owning fifty percent of the act and its assets, including virtually all of its recording catalog). Gaudio no longer plays live, leaving Valli the only member of the group from its inception that is currently touring.
The Four Seasons (group members 1960–1965) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, and it joined the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. It is one of the best-selling musical groups of all time, having sold 175 million records worldwide.
Before the Four Seasons
Frankie Valli's first commercial release was "My Mother's Eyes" (as Frank Valley) in 1953. The following year, he, along with Tommy DeVito, formed the Variatones (with Hank Majewski, rhythm guitar, Frank Cattone, accordion, and Billy Thompson, drums), which between 1954 and 1956, performed and recorded under a variety of names before settling on the name The Four Lovers. The same year, the quartet released their first record, "You're the Apple of My Eye", which appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, peaking at #62. Five additional Four Lovers singles (on RCA Victor) were released over the next year, with virtually no sales, airplay, or jukebox play. In 1957, the group's seventh single (this time on Epic) had a similar lack of success.
From 1956 until 1960, the group stayed together, performing in clubs and lounges as The Four Lovers and recording on various record labels with various names: Frankie Tyler, Frankie Valley, Frankie Valley and the Travelers, Frankie Valle and the Romans, The Village Voices, and The Topics are some of the 18 "stage names" used individually or collectively by the members of the group.
In 1958, the group started working with producer Bob Crewe, primarily with session work (Crewe wrote "I Go Ape", which Valli recorded with the intention of releasing it as a "solo" single). Later that year, the Four Lovers were performing in Baltimore on the same stage as The Royal Teens, who were riding the wave of success of "Short Shorts", a song that was co-written by then-15-year-old Bob Gaudio, who was also the Royal Teens' guitarist.
The next year, Gaudio replaced Nick DeVito in the lineup, with Gaudio doubling as both keyboardist and guitarist, and Charles Calello replaced Majewski on bass (Callelo would soon return as the group's arranger). In 1960, Calello left and was replaced by Nick Massi.
Despite the change of personnel, the fortunes of The Four Lovers did not change in the beginning of 1961, when they failed an audition for a lounge at a Union Township, Union County, New Jersey bowling establishment. According to Gaudio, "We figured we'll come out of this with something. So we took the name of the bowling alley. It was called the Four Seasons." Despite the last few years of frustration of the Four Lovers, this proved to be the turning point of the group: on a handshake between guitarist/keyboardist/composer Bob Gaudio and lead singer Frankie Valli, the Four Seasons Partnership was formed.
The rise of the Four Seasons
The Four Seasons released their first single in 1961 ("Bermuda"/"Spanish Lace" on Gone Records). While the single did not chart, the songs gave the group enough of a following to be signed with Vee-Jay Records late that year. They were the first non-black artists to sign with Vee-Jay.
In 1962, the group released their first album, featuring the single "Sherry", which was not only their first charted hit but also their first number-one song. Under the guidance of producer/songwriter Bob Crewe, The Four Seasons followed up "Sherry" with several million-selling hits, including "Big Girls Don't Cry" (their second #1 hit), "Walk Like a Man" (their third #1), "Candy Girl", "Ain't That a Shame", and several others. In addition, they released a Christmas album in December 1962 and charted with a unique rendition of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town".
From 1962 to early 1964, only the Beach Boys matched the Four Seasons in record sales in the United States, and their first three Vee-Jay non-holiday single releases marked the first time that a vocal group hit #1 on the Billboard singles charts with three consecutive entries (ignoring their version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town").
From Vee-Jay to Philips
Despite the group's success, Vee-Jay Records was in financial distress. Vee-Jay had released several early Beatles singles in America. When The Beatles became wildly popular, Vee-Jay was swamped with orders (Vee-Jay shipped more than two million Beatles records in a single month). The huge demands of mass production, the cash flow problems involved, and, the loss of The Beatles when Trans-Global (a firm licensed by EMI to distribute its products) canceled Vee-Jay's contract on August 3, 1963 due to non-payment of royalties, found Vee-Jay hard pressed to stay afloat. Vee Jay continued to produce one Beatles album (in various forms) in defiance of the cancellation. After over a year of legal negotiations, Capitol Records was finally able to stop Vee Jay effective October 15, 1964.
The label eventually filed for bankruptcy, and a royalty dispute between Vee-Jay and The Four Seasons headed to the courtrooms. In January 1964, after several successful albums and lack of money from Vee-Jay, The Four Seasons left Vee-Jay Records and moved over to Philips Records, then a division of Mercury Records. In the settlement of the lawsuit against Vee-Jay in 1965, Vee-Jay retained release rights for all material the group recorded for the label and exercised them liberally over the following three years. The group was obligated to deliver one final album to Vee-Jay, which they did in the form of a live LP.
The change of label did not diminish the popularity of The Four Seasons in 1964, nor did the onslaught of the British Invasion and Beatlemania. In fact, The Four Seasons are the only act to have a Hot 100 #1 hit before, during, and after the years that the Beatles had their Hot 100 #1 hits. However, "Dawn (Go Away)" (recorded for Atlantic Records, but never released by them) was kept from the #1 spot on the Hot 100 by no fewer than three Beatles singles in the March 21, 1964, edition (two weeks later, the top 5 slots were filled by Beatles singles).
In mid-July of that year, the Four Seasons made their fourth trip to the top of the singles charts with "Rag Doll"; additional massive-selling singles from 1964 on their new label included "Ronnie", "Big Man in Town", "Save It for Me", "Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye)", and "Girl Come Running". In the meantime, Vee-Jay continued releasing Four Seasons singles from their vault, including "Stay" and "Alone." The ultimate in Vee-Jay recycling occurred on October 1, 1964, when it coupled 1963's Golden Hits of the 4 Seasons with the label's only Beatles album, Introducing... The Beatles, in a two-record set dubbed The Beatles vs. the Four Seasons: The International Battle of the Century! Vee-Jay put little effort into the package, as each disc in the set still featured the original album's label with the original title and catalog number.
One group, several acts
Nick Massi left The Four Seasons in September 1965. The group's arranger, Charles Calello (a former member of the Four Lovers), stepped in as a temporary replacement. A few months later, Joe Long was permanently hired. Joe became the mainstay on bass and backing vocals until 1975. In the meantime, The Four Seasons released recordings under a variety of names, including The Valli Boys, The Wonder Who?, and Frankie Valli (every Valli "solo" recording from 1965 to "My Eyes Adored You" in 1975 had the same personnel and production team as the Four Seasons disks that were recorded at the same time: his first post-1950s single without the Four Seasons was 1975's "Swearin' to God").
More Top 20 singles credited to the Four Seasons followed in 1965, 1966, and 1967, including "Let's Hang On!", "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" (as the Wonder Who?), "Working My Way Back to You", "Opus 17 (Don't You Worry 'bout Me)", "I've Got You Under My Skin", "Can't Take My Eyes off You" (released under Valli's name as a "solo" single), "Beggin'", "Tell It to the Rain", "C'mon Marianne", and "I Make a Fool of Myself" (Frankie Valli "solo"). "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" was the group's last top 40 hit for seven years (reaching #24), just after Valli's last "solo" hit of the 1960s, the #29 "To Give (The Reason I Live)".
The end of the '60s and a change to Motown
By 1969 the group's popularity had deteriorated as public interest moved away from street corner pop and towards rock with a harder edge, deeper soul music, and music with more socially conscious lyrics. The group's last single on Philips, "Patch of Blue," featured the group's name as "Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons," but the change in billing did not change the act's lack of success in 1970.
After leaving Philips, the newly rechristened act signed to Motown with disastrous results. The first LP, Chameleon, failed to sell after it was released by Motown subsidiary label MoWest Records in 1971. A Frankie Valli "solo" single from 1971 ("Love Isn't Here" on Motown) and three Four Seasons singles ("Walk On, Don't Look Back" on MoWest in 1972, "How Come" and "Hickory" on Motown in 1973) sank without a trace. A recording that was destined to reach the upper parts of the UK Singles Chart, "The Night", was not commercially released as a single by Motown in the United States after promotional copies (showing the artist as Frankie Valli) were distributed in 1971.
In late 1973 and early 1974, The Four Seasons recorded eight songs for a planned sophomore Motown album, which the company refused to release to the public. Later in 1974, the record label and The Four Seasons parted ways. On behalf of the Four Seasons Partnership, Valli initially tried to purchase the entire collection of master recordings the group made for Motown; upon hearing the amount needed to buy them all, he arranged to purchase one recording for $4000 (US): "My Eyes Adored You".
Valli took the tape to Private Stock Records owner and founder Larry Uttal, who, after repeated listenings of the Four Seasons recording, wanted to release it as a Frankie Valli "solo" single. While the group remained unsigned in the latter part of 1974, Valli had a new label — and a new solo career.
While the hits for the Four Seasons had dried up in the first half of the 1970s, the group never lost its popularity as a performing act. Longtime member Joe Long stayed in the group until 1975. The new lineup boasted two new lead singers in Don Ciccone (formerly of The Critters) and Gerry Polci, who eased the singing load on an ailing Frankie Valli (who was gradually losing his hearing due to otosclerosis. Eventually, surgery restored most of his hearing).
As "My Eyes Adored You" climbed the Hot 100 singles chart in early 1975, Valli and Gaudio managed to get The Four Seasons signed with Warner Bros. Records as the disco era dawned. At the same time, Uttal was persuaded to release The Four Seasons Story, a two record compilation of the group's biggest hit singles from 1962 to 1970. It quickly became a gold record, selling over one million copies before the RIAA started awarding platinum records for million-selling albums.
In 1975, record sales exploded for both Valli and the Four Seasons as both acts had million-selling singles in the United States ("My Eyes Adored You" hit #1 on the Hot 100 for Valli in March, "Who Loves You" peaked at #3 in November for the group). In the United Kingdom, Tamla Motown released "The Night" as a single and had it reach the #7 position on the UK Singles Chart.
Valli had his first truly solo hit in the summer of 1975 (all of his prior "solo" hits were in fact Four Seasons productions) when the Bob Crewe-produced "Swearin' to God" followed "My Eyes Adored You" into the upper reaches of the Hot 100, peaking at the #6 position and capitalizing on the growing disco craze. The song was released in three forms: the eight-minute long album version, the ten-minute-long extended 12-inch single version, and the three-minute-long single version.
The album Who Loves You became a surprise million-seller for the group as it was the first Four Seasons album to feature lead vocals by other than Valli. Gerry Polci did the majority of the lead vocals, sharing them with Valli and Ciccone. The title song had Valli doing the lead on the verses, but none of the trademark falsettos in the chorus; "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" had Polci sing lead in the first verse, Ciccone in the second, and Valli doing lead vocals only in the chorus; "Silver Star" had Polci doing all the lead vocals, with Valli absent from the recording aside from doing some harmony vocals.
The Four Seasons opened 1976 atop the Billboard chart with their fifth #1 single, "December, 1963". Although the group also scored minor chart placements with "Silver Star" (#38), "Down the Hall" (#65 in 1977) and "Spend the Night in Love" (#91 in 1980), "December, 1963" marked the end of the Seasons' hit-making run. (A dance remix version of "December 1963" returned them briefly to the upper reaches of the Billboard singles charts almost two decades later.)
The success of Who Loves You increased the popularity of the Four Seasons as a touring group and reignited recording unit, but when 1977's Helicon album was released by Warner Bros., the climate was changing again, both for the group and for Valli. The new record yielded only one single, "Down the Hall", which limped onto the Hot 100. At the same time, Valli's string of solo hits had come to an end as he parted ways with Private Stock Records.
Excluding Valli's 1978 "Grease" single, which hit #1 while the motion picture of the same name became the highest-grossing musical in cinematic history, the last Top 40 hit for the group was behind them. Both Valli and the group released singles and albums on an occasional basis, but after "Grease", only a remixed version of their biggest seller, "December 1963" would visit the upper half of the Hot 100 (in 1994).
In 1984, a long-awaited collaboration between the Four Seasons and the Beach Boys, "East Meets West", was released on FBI Records, owned by the Four Seasons Partnership. The record didn't sell well.
Even after the rise and fall of the group's sales in the disco era, The Four Seasons, in one version or another (the group became a sextet as Jerry Corbetta, formerly of Sugarloaf, joined the lineup), continued to be a popular touring act, with Valli being the only constant in the midst of a fluctuating lineup. Although Gaudio is still officially part of the group (he and Valli are still equal partners in the Four Seasons Partnership), he now restricts his activities to writing, producing, and the occasional studio work.
The latest edition of The Four Seasons, including Valli, is conducting a North American tour in the latter half of 2007. Incidental to this tour, the massive 3-CD + 1 DVD box set ""Jersey Beat: The Music Of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons"" was released in mid-2007, marketed as the most comprehensive collection of Four Seasons music yet. The album title "Jersey Beat" is a play on both Jersey Boys, a wildly successful musical play about the Four Seasons, and "Mersey Beat," a reference to the Liverpool, England music scene which spawned the Beatles, named after the River Mersey.
In 2008, The Four Seasons' "Beggin'" was revived not by one but by two acts. Pilooski made an electro remix of that song, while rap act Madcon used it as the basis of their song "Beggin'". The latter went to number 5 in the UK charts and was a hit across Europe. Pilooski's edit of the song was featured in a TV commercial for adidas shoes entitled "Celebrate Originality". The Adidas commercial is a popular hit on YouTube and features a house party with famous celebrities such as David Beckham, Russel Simmons, Kevin Garnett, Missy Elliott, Katy Perry, and Mark Gonzales. 
Also known as...
From 1956 until "My Eyes Adored You" in 1975, records which the Four Seasons recorded had the following artist credit (a sampling):
Frankie Valley and the Travelers
Frankie Valle and the Romans
The Village Voices
Billy Dixon and the Tropics
The Four Lovers
Frankie Love and the Four Lovers
1960 and after
The Four Seasons
Hal Miller and the Rays
Johnny Halo featuring The Four Seasons
The 4 Seasons
The Wonder Who?
The Valli Boys
Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
Frankie Valli and The New Seasons
This is not a complete list of album releases. These recordings have been reissued on a variety of labels, some of which are noted here. This does not include Frankie Valli solo albums, except for his first solo release.
Selected US singles
- Main article: The Four Seasons discography
US peak chart position on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart follows the name. Frankie Valli "solo" singles are also omitted but can be found here. Only singles that reached a position of #30 or higher on the Hot 100 are listed here.
- See also: Jersey Boys
Jersey Boys, a musical play based on the lives of The Four Seasons, directed by Des McAnuff (The Who's Tommy, 700 Sundays) premiered at his La Jolla Playhouse and opened on November 6, 2005 to generally positive reviews and subsequently won multiple Tony Awards.
The original cast included John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli, Daniel Reichard as Bob Gaudio, Christian Hoff as Tommy De Vito, and J. Robert Spencer as Nick Massi. The play portrays the history of The Four Seasons in four parts, with each part narrated by a different member of the band and supposedly reflecting that band member's perspective on the band's history. The author of the book of the play, Rick Elice, interviewed Valli, Gaudio, and De Vito in writing the play, and pieced together Nick Massi's point of view based on those interviews (Massi died before the play was written). The Broadway production won four 2006 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Actor (for John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli), Best Featured Actor (for Christian Hoff as Tommy DeVito), and Best Lighting Design.
There are currently three US-American productions of Jersey Boys running outside New York. The first opened at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco on December 10, 2006, leaving that venue for the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles on May 3, 2007. (This company is currently touring the United States.) The second opened in San Francisco on May 4, 2007, closed on September 30 of that year, and opened on October 6 at the LaSalle Bank Theatre (recently renamed the Bank of America Theatre) in Chicago, Illinois for an open-ended run, but will be ending on January 10, 2010. Currently showing is the Las Vegas-bound company at the new Palazzo Hotel. It previewed at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco and then debuted at Palazzo in April 2008.
Another completely new production opened at the Prince Edward Theatre, London in February 2008. A production in Melbourne, Australia was launched in June 2009.
Jersey Boys is also running at the Toronto Centre for the Arts in Toronto. and the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Four Seasons 2008
Frankie Valli continues to tour the United States with a group of new, young men as The Four Seasons. They consist of Todd Fournier, Brian Brigham, Brandon Brigham, and Landon Beard (Altar Boyz). The group provides Frankie backup with their vocal harmonies.
- 1.0 1.1 The Four Seasons. By Richie Unterberger. Vocal Group Hall of Fame: Main Website. Accessed June 9, 2009.
- Bronson, Fred. The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, 3rd edition (Billboard Books, 1992) ISBN 0-8230-8298-9
- Sasfy, Joe. Liner notes to Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons: 1962-1967 (Warner Special Products, 1987: Time-Life Music The Rock 'N' Era 2RNR-15)
- 4.0 4.1 Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. Rolling Stone Magazine. Accessed June 9, 2009.
- The Four Seasons. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Main Website. Accessed June 9, 2009.
- Cote, David (2007). Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Broadway Books.
- Walter Gollender,Bim Bam Boom No. 8 (December 1972)
- Fred Bronson. The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, 3rd edition (Billboard Books, 1992) ISBN 0-8230-8298-9
- Joe Sasfy. Liner notes to Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons: 1962-1967 (Warner Special Products, 1987: Time-Life Music The Rock 'N' Era 2RNR-15)
- Whitburn, Joel. Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1993, Billboard Publications 1994 ISBN 0-89820-105-5
- Umphred, Neil. Goldmine's Rock'n'Roll 45RPM Record Price Guide (3rd edition), Krause Publications 1994 ISBN 0-87341-287-7
- Jersey Boys National Tour · Jersey Boys Blog
- Jersey Boys San Francisco/Chicago Company · Jersey Boys Blog
- Jersey Boys SF Holiday Engagement · Jersey Boys Blog
- Jersey Boys Las Vegas · Jersey Boys Blog
- ReviewJournal.com - Living - Musical 'Jersey Boys' coming to Palazzo
- Jersey Boys - The Story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
- Jersey Boys London · Jersey Boys Blog
- Let's hear it for the Jersey Boys - Entertainment - theage.com.au
- Genuine Imitation Life Gazette Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons fan site.
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame page on The Four Seasons
- 'The Four Seasons' Vocal Group Hall of Fame Page.
- The Four Seasons.com fan site
- "Jersey Boys", the Broadway Musical based on the life of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
- The Jersey Boys Blog Dedicated to Jersey Boys
- The Four Seasons In The UK Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons UK Enthusiasts and Historical Society site.
- 'chameleon' Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons UK Enthusiasts and Historical Society research blog.