America's #1 Frankie Valli Tribute Show, Let's Hang On! will be hitting the Greenville Theatre stage for just 4 performances starting this Thursday, May 2nd and we can not contain our excitement! To hold you over until you see the show, enjoy 15 fun facts about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons!
Frankie Valli’s real name is Frank Castelluccio. He took his most famous stage name after country singer Texas Jean Valley.
Frankie grew up in a very tough public housing development in Newark where, according to Tommy DeVito, “There was only three ways out: You could join the army. You could get 'mobbed' up. Or you could become a star.”
Frankie Valli possesses a three- octave range. While in today's music industry this has become the norm among vocalists, Valli had a remarkable range for the time, easily hitting high notes without his voice breaking. With no formal vocal training, Valli taught himself to sing by doing impressions of other artists such as Rose Murphy and Dinah Washington. By doing so he cultivated his falsetto into what has remained his signature sound.
Joe Pesci, the actor well known for his roles in John Hugh's Home Alone and Scoresese's Goodfellas, played a pretty major role in the formation of the group. Growing up near Newark, N.J., young Pesci was friendly with Tommy DeVito and the rest of the band. He connected DeVito with Bob Gaudio, who would later write nearly all of The Four Season’s most popular songs. Later, when Pesci starred in Scoresese’s Goodfellas with the name Tommy DeVito. To take the inside joke even further, at one point in the film, one character confronts another by saying “Who the hell do you think you are, Frankie Valli or some kind of big shot?”
Valli founded a group with the name the Varietones in 1955 which eventually evolved into the Four Lovers. After 1958 the Four Lovers went their separate ways and Frankie Valli was a solo act once again. After producer/director Bob Crewe met Frankie, they agreed upon a new framework for the act. The previous Four Lovers were hired as session musicians and background singers. The group underwent some membership changes with Bob Gaudio joining the group as the keyboard player in 1959 and Mick Massi as bass vocals in 1961.
In mid 1961, the Four Lovers auditioned for a job at a bowling alley. They didn’t get the job, but after four years of frustration as the Four Lovers, they took the name of the establishment that turned them down: The Four Seasons.
Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli registered the name as a trademark and in 1962 they signed with Vee Jay Records and had a string of hits including “Sherry,” “Walk Like A Man,” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”
There was a lot of history about the members in the group the public wasn't privy to. Such as the knowledge that a couple of band members had served some time in prison. They kept this hidden during the early stages of their career, afraid that if the truth ever got out companies wouldn't sign them and radio stations wouldn't play their music. As they entered the 70s and 80s however, they saw artists getting arrested and becoming famous afterwards, prompting members to no longer hide their past.
In 1964, as Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons were enjoying tremendous success, the Beatles caught on in America. After 16 US Top 40 Hits in 28 months, the unbelievable happened in the spring of 1965; for the first time since “Sherry,” an original Four Seasons single failed to reach the top 40.
The Four Seasons prided themselves on songs about real life issues faced by working folks-mostly relationship problems. Valli said, “Our songs were more about real people and the real world they lived in. A world which wasn’t always that pretty.”
The Wonder Who? was an alias of The Four Seasons. The name was used four singles released from 1965 to 1967. It was one of a handful of "names" used by the group at that time, including Frankie Valli (as a “solo” artist even though the Four Seasons were present on the records), and The Valli Boys.
Billy Joel drew inspiration from Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons and wrote “Uptown Girl” as a flip-side follow up story to their hit “Rag Doll.”
From 1962-1978, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons sold over 100 million records.
The Four Seasons were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
The story of the Four Seasons was bought to the stage in the long running Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Jersey Boys in 2006. A film of the same name hit the big screen in 2014.