The Four Seasons (group)
Infobox musical artist
Name = The Four Seasons
Background = group_or_band
Alias = The 4 Seasons
The 4 Seasons featuring the "sound" of Frankie Valli
Frankie Valli and The 4 Seasons
Newark, New Jersey
Genre = Pop,
R&B, Doo Wop, Rock, Motown, Disco
Years_active = 1960–present
Vee Jay Records, Philips Records, Motown, Warner Bros. Records, MCA, Curb
The Four Lovers The Wonder Who? Frankie Valli(as solo artist)
currently group membership fluctuates
Tommy DeVito(1960-1970) Nick Massi( néMacioci) (1960-1965) Bob Gaudio(1960-1971) Charles Calello(1965) Joe Long( néLaBracio) (1965-1975)
Bob Grimm (1970)
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) Robby Robinson(1978-1998,2000-?) Jerry Corbetta(1979-1985) Rex Robinson(1979-2000) 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(Mid 90s) Warren Hamm(1997-2000) Rich Callaci(1998-2000) Steve Gregory(2001-2005) Keith Hubacher(2001-?) Matt Baldoni(2005-?) Gary Melvin(2006-?)
The Four Seasons (known off and on since 1967 as Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons - although not shown that way on any of their hit records), is an American pop and rock group. They also have a sound somewhat reminiscent of
doo wop, but it was never known as a doo wop quartet. By the mid 1960s it had become an internationally famous rock and roll group.
In 1960, the group known as The Four Lovers evolved into The Four Seasons, with
Frankie Vallias 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 Massion bass guitar and bass vocals (Massi was replaced in 1965 by Charles Calello, who was in turn replaced later in 1965 by Joe Longon bass guitar and bass vocals).
The official 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). [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)]
The Four Seasons (group members 1960–1965) were inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Famein 1990 and the Vocal Group Hall of Famein 1999.
Before the Four Seasons
Frankie Valli's first commercial release was "My Mother's Eyes" (as Frank Valley) in 1953. The following year, he joined the Variety Trio and formed the group that evolved into the Variatones (with brothers Tommy and
Nick DeVitoand Hank Majewski), [Jay Warner, "American Singing Groups: A History from 1940 to Today" (Hal Leonard Books, 2006) ISBN 0-634-09978-7] which between 1954 and 1956, performed and recorded under a variety of names before settling on the name The Four Lovers. [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)] The same year, the quartet released their first record, " You're the Apple of My Eye", which appeared on the "Billboard" Hot 100singles chart, peaking at #62. [Whitburn, Joel. "Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1993", Billboard Publications 1994 ISBN 0-89820-105-5] 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. [Umphred, Neil. "Goldmine's Rock'n'Roll 45RPM Record Price Guide" (3rd edition), Krause Publications 1994 ISBN 0-87341-287-7]
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 was 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 guitar, and
Charles Calelloreplaced 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 Recordslate that year.
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 of 1962 and charted with a unique rendition of " Santa Claus Is Coming to Town".
From 1962 to early 1964, only the
Beach Boysmatched 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 released several early
Beatlessingles in America, and when The Beatles became wildly popular, Vee Jay was swamped with a flood of orders. (Vee Jay shipped more than two million Beatles records in a single month.) The huge demands of mass production, and the cash flow problems involved, found Vee Jay hard pressed to stay afloat.
The label eventually filed for bankruptcy, and a royalty dispute between Vee Jay and The Four Seasons headed to the courtrooms. At the end of 1963, after several successful albums and lack of money from them, The Four Seasons left Vee Jay Records and moved over to
Philips Records, 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 Invasionand Beatlemania. However, " Dawn (Go Away)" (recorded for Atlantic Records, which rejected it) was kept from the #1 spot on the Hot 100 by no fewer than three Beatlessingles 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)" (originally "Bye Bye Baby"), 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 the label produced a double album consisting of reissues of old Four Seasons recordings and the Vee Jay " Introducing... The Beatles" album (from 1963) and dubbed it " The Beatles vs. the Four Seasons" ("The International Battle of the Century!").
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 Longwas permanently hired. Joe became the mainstay on bass and backing vocals until 1975. Joe also served as concert emcee and conductor. 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-1961 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" (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" (their last Top Ten hit of the 1960s), and " I Make a Fool of Myself" (Frankie Valli "solo"). By late 1967, like that of their West Coast brethren, The Beach Boys, the Four Seasons' record sales were tapering off. " Will You Love Me Tomorrow" provided a "last hurrah" for the group in early 1968 (reaching #24 on the Hot 100), just before 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 was deteriorating 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 onto
Motown Recordswith disastrous results. The first LP, "Chameleon", failed to sell after it was released by Motown subsidiary label MoWest Recordsin 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 second 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 Recordsowner 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. Recordsas 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 RIAAstarted 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 singleversion, 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 following year had The Four Seasons hitting #1 for the fifth time with "December, 1963". Although the group also scored a minor hit with "Silver Star", "December 1963" also seems to mark the end of the Seasons' hit recording (a 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.
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 musical play about the Four Seasons, and " Mersey Beat," a reference to the early Beatlesmusic scene alongside the River Merseyin Liverpool, England.
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
Madconused it as the basis of their song "Beggin'". The latter went to number 5 in the UK charts and was a hit across Europe.
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 Four 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. This is noteworthy as it is believed to be the first, or one of the first, solo releases by a member of a major recording group from the Rock era.
Selected US singles
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.
Jersey Boys", a musical playbased on the lives of The Four Seasons, directed by Des McAnuff("The Who's Tommy", " 700 Sundays") premiered at his La Jolla Playhouseand opened on November 6, 2005to generally positive reviews and subsequently won multiple Tony Awards.
The original cast included
John Lloyd Youngas 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 passed away before the play was written). The Broadway production won four 2006 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Actor (for John Lloyd Youngas Frankie Valli), Best Featured Actor (for Christian Hoff as Tommy DeVito), and Best Lighting Design.
There are currently three productions of "Jersey Boys" running outside New York. The first opened at the
Curran Theatrein San Francisco on December 10, 2006, leaving that venue for the Ahmanson Theatrein Los Angeles on May 3, 2007. (This company is currently touring the United States.) [ [http://jerseyboysblog.com/?cat=30 Jersey Boys National Tour · Jersey Boys Blog ] ] 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, Illinoisfor an open-ended run. [ [http://jerseyboysblog.com/?cat=38 Jersey Boys San Francisco/Chicago Company · Jersey Boys Blog ] ] Currently showing is the Las Vegas-bound company at the new Palazzo Hotel. It previewed at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco [ [http://jerseyboysblog.com/?cat=39 Jersey Boys SF Holiday Engagement · Jersey Boys Blog ] ] [http://shnsf.com/shows/show.asp?key=18&subkey=509] and then debuted at Palazzo in April 2008. [ [http://jerseyboysblog.com/?cat=33 Jersey Boys Las Vegas · Jersey Boys Blog ] ] [ [http://www.lvrj.com/living/7289631.html ReviewJournal.com - Living - Musical 'Jersey Boys' coming to Palazzo ] ]
Another completely new production opened at the
Prince Edward Theatre, Londonin February 2008. [ [http://www.jerseyboyslondon.com/jerseyboys.asp Jersey Boys - The Story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons ] ] [ [http://jerseyboysblog.com/?cat=35 Jersey Boys London · Jersey Boys Blog ] ] A production in Melbourne, Australiais planned for 2009. [ [http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertainment/lets-hear-it-for-the-jersey-boys/2008/01/28/1201369041880.html Let's hear it for the Jersey Boys - Entertainment - theage.com.au ] ]
Jersey Boys is also running at the Toronto Centre for the Arts in
Torontountil November 9, 2008.
* [http://www.genuine-imitation-life-gazette.com Genuine Imitation Life Gazette] Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons fan site.
* [http://www.rockhall.com/hof/inductee.asp?id=104 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame page on The Four Seasons]
* [http://www.vocalgroup.org/inductees/the_four_seasons.html 'The Four Seasons' Vocal Group Hall of Fame Page.]
* [http://www.the-four-seasons.com The Four Seasons.com] fan site
* [http://jerseyboysblog.com The Jersey Boys Blog] Dedicated to Jersey Boys; the Tony award-winning smash hit Broadway & National Tour musical of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
* [http://www.JerseyBoysBroadway.com "Jersey Boys", the Broadway Musical based on the life of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons]
* [http://www.seasonally.co.uk/ The Four Seasons In The UK] Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons UK Enthusiasts and Historical Society site.
* [http://movementbureau.blogs.com/chameleon/ 'chameleon' ] Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons UK Enthusiasts and Historical Society research blog.
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