Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons: Setting records
You know the hit tunes: “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man” … and on and on and on—71 charting singles in all, including 19 that peaked in the Top 10 and eight that climbed all the way to No. 1.
You also know the smash-hit musical: Beloved from Broadway to the Las Vegas Strip, Jersey Boys told the captivating story of the Four Seasons, from their hardscrabble upbringing on the mobbed-up streets of Newark, N.J., to Rock and Roll Hall of Famers.
So as Valli (now 83 years young) prepares to bring the current version of the Four Seasons to Las Vegas for their first two shows of 2018, let’s get to a few things you might not know about a group whose distinctive vocal stylings and uncanny ability to write and record one catchy tune after another stamped them as voices of a generation …
• Valli’s dream of bright lights and stardom was sparked the first time he saw bright lights and stardom: At age 7, his mother took him to see Frank Sinatra in New York City, and Ol’ Blue Eyes left a mark. As Valli says on his website bio, “I decided then and there that’s what I was going to do—be a successful singer.”
• Half of the Four Seasons—Valli and Tommy DeVito—got their first taste of success in 1956 as part of a quartet dubbed the Four Lovers. And, tangentially at least, a rising star named Elvis Presley was involved. As the story goes, songwriter Otis Blackwell penned the tune “You’re the Apple of My Eye” for the Four Lovers as a make-good after yanking from them another creation—a little ditty called “Don’t Be Cruel.” Blackwell handed that one to Presley, who turned it into one of his earliest (and biggest) hits. “You’re the Apple of My Eye” also became a hit—the Four Lovers even landed a spot on The Ed Sullivan Show—but success was fleeting, forcing Valli to keep his day job cutting hair.
• The Four Lovers morphed into the Four Seasons, first with Nick Massi joining Valli and DeVito, followed by singer/songwriter Bob Gaudio (who was recommended to the group by friend and future Oscar-winning actor Joe Pesci). Soon after the Gaudio-penned hit “Sherry” put the Four Seasons on the map to stay, Valli and Gaudio reached a handshake agreement: Every penny the two earned—be it from Valli’s performances or Gaudio’s songwriting and producing—would be split 50-50. The agreement exists to this day.
• Several Four Seasons songs enjoyed a second life thanks to the movies—none more so than “December 1963 (Oh What a Night),” which hit No. 1 in 1976 then appeared two decades later in Forrest Gump. Soon after, a dance remix was recorded and quickly landed on the charts, where it remained for more than 50 total weeks. At the time, it was the longest running single in the history of Billboard’s Hot 100.
• Speaking of setting records, Jersey Boys played to packed crowds at two Las Vegas venues from 2008-16. The eight-year run was the longest for a Broadway musical in Strip history.
Park Theater at Monte Carlo, 8 p.m. Jan. 12-13, starting at $39 plus tax and fee. 844.600.7275