Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons
A history of the Four Seasons, the "East Coast Beach Boys" with the famous trademark falsetto of Frankie Valli.
A legend was born in Newark, New Jersey on May 3, 1937, in the form of Francis Stephen Castelluccio (later Frankie Valli). Frankie had dreamed of being a singer ever since his mother took him to see Frank Sinatra perform when he was little, and he never gave up on his dream.
Frankie recorded his first record, "My Mother's Eyes", in 1953 as "Frankie Valley". Soon after that, he was named the lead singer of the singing group that he formed with three other New Jersey boys, "The Four Lovers". Under this name, and under contract by RCA Victor, the group recorded a single album in 1956, entitled "Joyride". The album was more or less a flop, although the group did manage to have one minor hit single, "You're the Apple of My Eye", that charted after the group performed the number on the Ed Sullivan show. After this, however, the group was reduced to singing backup vocals for various recording artists during the remaining of their stay at RCA. The group was unsatisfied with this arrangement, to say the least.
Many changes were in store for the boys--the group eventually changed their name from “The Four Lovers” to “The Four Seasons” after a New Jersey bowling alley they had failed to win a gig at. Then one day on the way to rehearsal, group member Bob Gaudio was heading out the door when he suddenly came up with an unforgettable tune. He went to the piano to jot it down, and fifteen minutes later he had finished the song and was on his way. The Four Seasons, now under contract with Vee-Jay, this song, “Sherry” became their first number one hit ever, with Frankie Valli’s remarkable falsetto, in the year 1962. Although many groups were using falsetto as backup, the Four Seasons were the first group ever to use falsetto as the lead. With their new hit status, and Valli’s three and a half octave spanning voice, the Four Seasons soon had yet another number one hit with “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and then again with “Walk Like a Man”. The Four Seasons were hot, and they just kept on going. Many have referred to them as “The East Coast Beach Boys”, a title that certainly has merit, as the Four Seasons and the Beach Boys were the only two big singing groups at the time from the United States, and they both held their own against the British Invasion.
In 1967 Frankie Valli began recording as a solo artist, while still remaining with the Four Seasons. He recorded the hit number by Bob Gaudio, “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You”. Around this time, Valli began having serious problems with his ears. He reported having sounds drop out all around him, and eventually was diagnosed with otosclerosis, an incurable ear disease in which one progressively looses their hearing until going completely deaf. Valli was devastated, but nevertheless, he kept on singing. When in the studio, he had to have his headphones turned up to levels that no ordinary human could possibly endure. Amazingly, on stage, Valli was able to pull it off so well that the fans weren’t even aware of his problem. He reported that the group was so well rehearsed that he was able to keep on going despite his inability to hear. To be able to keep on singing so perfectly without even being able to hear himself shows amazing talent. Valli finally had operations on his ears that allowed him to recover some of his hearing, and many fans still are unaware that he ever had a problem.
The Four Seasons have recorded songs in five decades, and are the only group to have at least one hit in so many decades in a row. Part of their secret is their versatility, and also their immense talent. As the sixties neared a close, so did the doo wop days of the Four Seasons. With the seventies came disco, songs such as “Who Loves You” and “December ’63 (Oh What a Night)”. In the eighties there was “Streetfighter”. In the nineties they released an album called, "Hope and Glory" that contained all new material. Not long after they released another CD with some old material and some remixes from the "Hope and Glory" CD called "The Dance Album". “December ’63” hit the charts again in 1993, introducing many new people to the Four Seasons. Frankie Valli is reportedly working on a new album at this time, but he has not announced a release date thus far. Keep an eye out for some new music from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and yet another decade of great music in the new millennium!