May 24, 2008

Gaudio and Valli Reflect on The 4 Seasons and Jersey Boys

May 24th, 2008

Sheryl Flatlow of has an in-depth interview with Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli, who reflect on their roles as members of the chart-topping 4 Seasons and the monster hit Jersey Boys, based on their lives, that has been thrilling audiences and critics alike on Broadway, around the country and across the pond.

In addition to introducing a new generation to such hits as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Let’s Hang On,” “Bye Bye Baby” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” Jersey Boys, directed by Des McAnuff, has brought belated respect to an enormously popular group that never received the critical accolades lavished on such contemporaries as The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones. When the show opened in the West End, Benedict Nightingale, in his rave review in the Times of London, wrote, “Indeed, there were times last night when I felt the performers were making even the Beatles sound somewhat lacking in musical texture.” Sweet vindication for a group that had 13 top-ten hits between 1962 and 1967.

“Our success was against all odds,” says Valli. “We were such a low-profile musical entity. We were never really embraced by the industry, and we weren’t with a major record company until much later.”

“I think that because people never paid attention, they really don’t have a clue what the musical content is,” says Bob Gaudio, who composed most of the songs, often with lyrics by Bob Crewe. “There are a lot of classical undertones and overtones in my music that people never picked up on because of the pop sound. But if you’re a musician, try to play the chords. You’ll learn that it takes some practice. We were never glamour boys. We never got that kind of publicity. We were only as good as our last record. No one even considered that we might have a following of any consequence. Now fans are coming out of the closet. But who knew? It’s such a kick to see those people having so much fun with the show.”


  1. Some of us paid attention to the instrumentation. We loved Charles Calello’s intricate arrangements, not to slight others. We didn’t miss a chime, a xylophone, or an oboe.

    And why limit the definition of success to just #1s or Top 10s, or to the 1960s? And aren’t we forgetting Frankie’s solo career in our totals? I count around 40 Top 40 entries, 18 Top 10s, with the help of Joel Whitburn’s “Top Pop Singles”. And there were others that we knew that were below Top 40.

    The Beach Boys only attained their fifth number one in 1988 with “Kokomo”, which again tied them with The Four Seasons. But the Beach Boys didn’t have successful solo artists like Frankie Valli. Not to put The Beach Boys down, but I never understood why they have received so much more “critical acclaim”.

    As I said before in another thread, a falsetto is a vocal register, like a register key reveals on a wind musical instrument. Most voices can muster a falsetto using the smaller upper portions of the respiratory tract as “resonant cavities”. The late Minnie Riperton used a falsetto in “Lovin’ You”, though few recognize this in a female voice.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — May 24, 2008 @ 4:33 pm

  2. On your point Dr. Ted – If Bob Gaudio had been in a drug induced stupor for the past 40 years or so like his bleach boy counterpart, he too would be considered a musical genius. He wouldn’t know what day it is or what century he is in but he would be a “genius.” Same could be said for all four guys when compared to their bugs and stones counterparts. The trick seems to be, even today, that if you are “counter-culture” or “anti-establishment” you must be an artistic genius of some kind.

    Comment by David Cace — May 25, 2008 @ 7:17 am

  3. I was one of the few who would play a Seasons song over and over again listening to all that went on in the background driving my parents crazy wearing out those vinyl albums which I still have by the way, almost the entire collection. Even today I will listen closely, using CD’s now, telling anyone who cares, hear that chord, listen to Bob banging on the keyboard, really getting into it or Tommy doing his thing.I was one who could never understand, still to this day, why some of the B sides of the 4 Seasons music can not be played on the air waves. I would bet people would take notice if they took any one the songs from Genuine Imitation Life Gazette and played it without giving up the Seasons name for a week or two. Phones would be ringing off the hook asking where did that come from, remember the WONDER WHO??. I mean come on, look at what that guy Piloski did with Beggin’. The song was a major hit with the younger crowd. GILF would sell today and sell big if someone would only take the time to listen to it all over again and put it on the air. Lord knows what is produced today is not worth listening to.

    Comment by Bob Nelson — May 25, 2008 @ 9:33 am

  4. I don’t know if you ever did this, Bob, but another way to hear and separate the tracks better is to have some kind of device that flips the phase of one of the channels so you hear R-L, the Right minus the Left channel. Usually the vocal is very soft and you just hear what’s in the Left or Right channel only. Some equalizer “expanders” do this. Sometimes, vocal eliminators/karaoke machines do this. Anyway, it’s an interesting way to listen to Stereo recordings, from the 1960s especially, to analyze the recordings and tracks.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — May 25, 2008 @ 10:22 am

  5. Bob

    You are so right. If I may share a quick story to prove it – GILG came out while I was in college and I took it with me one Saturday when I was invited to a college party. The usual was being played: some Stones, Vanilla Fudge, Cream, and of course St. Pepper’s. I put GILG when no one was watching and the crowd really got into it. I heard the crowd saying who is that singing and I didn’t answer because I knew if I did someone would shut it off. At the end of the night I told people who it was and they couldn’t believe it. They were really getting into the title song of course and “American Resurrection and Crucifixion” and Wonder What She’ll Be,” and “Soul of a Woman.”

    Comment by David Cace — May 25, 2008 @ 12:30 pm

  6. I did college radio for 12 years from 1992-2004 in South Florida known as the Professor of Oldies, and if I played cuts from Imitation Life Gizette listeners thought it was Pink Floyd. My favorite track is Saturday’s Father. The harmony vocals at the end of the record blow me way. I bought it when it came out and it should have gotten the respect it seems to be getting today. In my opinion the reason why The Four Seasons never got the respect they deserved back in the 1960′s was because didn’t have any particular gimmick except for one thing that all concerned knew what to do in the studio. That’s why Jersey Boys is in my opinion the most successful show in the history of any play on a rock or pop group.

    Comment by Marty — May 25, 2008 @ 6:42 pm

  7. While this wonderful blog celebrates the truly glorious success of the play “Jersey Boys” I love the posts that harken back to us frustrated fans of the old days where we had to take a lot of abuse for admiring this great band. It’s so true, I would always try to get friends to listen to whatever was new from our guys. It was often dismissed. Not the music…only when you mentioned that it was the 4 Seasons. We knew that Gaudio was the true musical “genius”. We knew Frankie was the best lead singer, period. We just never could get people to understand that. Thankfully, that’s changed. Thankfully, Jersey Boys has made it all possible. Not
    knowing about these guys actually has made this show a success. How ironic. Plays about the Beach Boys, Lennon, Cash, Dylan….have all failed. Who’s the real “genius” now. Bob found a new way to keep the catalog alive and valli-date this wonderful band.
    To read various other blogs from college kids who have “discovered” the Gazette album is such a treat.

    Comment by Ray Ricci — May 26, 2008 @ 8:07 pm

  8. thank you everyone for your comments. Great to know I wasn’t the only one getting beat up for standing up for the 4 Seasons all those years. Ted, I did and still do the equalizer and harmonic balance trick to this day. I used to enjoy it with head phones on as well. One thing I will never forget was an Atlantic City concert. We were jammed in an elevator with a group of people all our age, and each one told a story how they follow Frankie and the Seasons all over, never tiring of the music or the sound of Frankie Valli. My skeptic wife and her brother ,long time Beach Boy fans did not have a word to say that night. I really believe their music will live on for many many years and it should be put back on the air ,have a station play the 18 minute version of Swearin’ to GOD or like I mentioned before play songs from GILG and see what happens. Jersey Boys started a new era, let’s keep it going.

    Comment by Bob Nelson — May 27, 2008 @ 4:05 pm

  9. It was nice reading all the wonderful comments submitted by Ted, David, Bob, Marty and Ray to this JBB post. I, too, am a long-time fan who has never been shy about my enjoyment of the music of Frankie Valli and The 4 Seasons from the time I “discovered” their “sound” in the early seventies right up to the more-recent releases. I’ve always played their recordings in my car, at parties, while at college in my dorm room, when my wife and I got married (“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” was our wedding song), as background music at barbecues, all the while advocating the virtues of the music. I own many of their original album releases (from the ’60′s and early ’70′s purchased at used record stores, flea markets, and the like; from the “Longines Symphonette Society Presents The Greatest Hits of Frankie Valli and The Fabulous Four Seasons,” “Who Loves You,” and “Frankie Valli Closeup” releases on, all store-bought items. Although I regularly listen to a broad-range of musical styles and peformers, I constantly rotate in different releases from my favorite musical act. I have to admit that with the huge success of “Jersey Boys” on Broadway, around the country and, now, around the world, people seem to be more accepting and even more appreciative of this music. Definitely, a welcomed change as well as a well-deserved recognition. One final note, I will have to employ some of the “tricks” both Ted and Bob suggested when playing these recordings to try and discover some new “sounds” that I did not know existed on some of these old tunes!

    Comment by Len Gersten — May 28, 2008 @ 4:49 pm

  10. Thanks for all your “amplification”, David, Bob, Len, Ray, and Marty.

    I can’t remember where I read this, perhaps on another thread here, but “Saturday’s Father” is also a favorite of Berry Gordy, Jr.’s and he reportedly would play it at meetings back in the day. Perhaps it led to him signing FV4S when other labels had written them off in the early 1970s, not that they were promoted that much by Motown.

    It is interesting that in some FV4S compilations, the Right and Left Channels on some tracks seem to be basically reversed. The Left and Right ears may hear things a little differently, so it sometimes sounds surprisingly different. Another listening trick is to reverse the headphones and listen for the difference.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — May 28, 2008 @ 8:25 pm

  11. Frankie Valli and Four Seasons you have yet another no.1 fan who is not afraid to listen(very loud) to your music, which is the best…..I was born in the 70′s and i thank you for still singing frankie, and bob for writing and producing….Thanks for all the great music….LOVE IT!!!! Jersey Boys is awesome, now i only wished i lived in that era…..Keep safe Love you guys…….

    Comment by Mari Gaines — May 31, 2008 @ 8:31 pm

  12. This thread and “The Four Seasons Dinstinctive Sound” have alluded to the Longines Symphonette compilation from 1974. There is the saying “the darkest hour is just before dawn”, but in this case, not “Dawn” but “My Eyes Adored You”. Just when it appeared there would be no new hits for FV4S, Longines Symphonette came out with this definitive compilation. Also as we have seen, FV4S started to get serious professional musical acclaim, partly because of their intricate arrangements, and partly because of Frankie Valli’s timeless standard release in 1967, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. The Longines Symphonette Society had always gravitated toward what was called “Good Music” in the 1960s, the standards and classics. That was another stunning moment for me with the Longines release, the first true Pop-Rock group so released. While David’s surfers from California and bugs from Britain may have overrehearsed and overrecorded their way to polished Rock and Roll critical acclaim, the Seasons had a musical substance that far outlasted “Yesterday”.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — June 17, 2008 @ 10:22 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. | TrackBack URI

Please leave a comment