September 23, 2007

Highlights of NJ From Two Real Jersey Boys–Bob Gaudio and John Michael Coppola

September 23rd, 2007

Dave Hoekstra of the Chicago Sun-Times states that in the hit musical Jersey Boys, the Four Seasons’ Bob Gaudio says the band’s 1960s pop was the soundtrack for factory workers, gas attendants and diner regulars. The reporter recently had the chance to chat with Jersey Boys’ cast member John Michael Coppola, who’s from Bloomfied and the real Bob Gaudio, who grew up in Bergenfield, about the hit show and what it was like to grow up in NJ.

Using Coppola and the real-life Gaudio’s tips, Hoekstra tooled around New Jersey and New York to take in sites pertinent to the Four Seasons career. The band’s diverse cultural range was apparent from Hiram’s Roadstand, a vintage hot dog diner in Fort Lee, N.J., to the Russian Samovar in what was the original Jilly’s nightclub on West 52nd Street — ironically across the street from the August Wilson Theater where Jersey Boys is now playing in Manhattan.

After highlighting many of the interesting sights recommended by Gaudio and Coppola, Hoekstra goes back to the music. He closes by noting that most of today’s hit songs are constructed with verse/refrain (which is where you hear the hook). In classics like 1962′s “Sherry” — the Four Seasons’ first hit — Gaudio wrote the hook first, followed by the verse. The listener is pulled in like a good story, a saga that still can be found along the backroads of New Jersey and New York.

Read the full story in the Chicago Sun-Times.


  1. Had many a good pre-teen and young teenage time at Palisades Park and ate many a hot dog at Hiram’s (much better than Callahan’s which is across the street and for which you can buy a franchise now.

    Comment by David Cace — September 23, 2007 @ 8:04 am

  2. I saw Coppola as Frankie yesterday and he was excellent. Thanks for this link! :)

    Comment by Leanna — September 23, 2007 @ 11:19 am

  3. I was at the same show, he definitely gave a fantastic performance.

    Comment by Mike — September 23, 2007 @ 1:29 pm

  4. This is a great article.

    I wonder how long it will be before some entreprenuer
    starts a “Four Seasons Reality Tour” which visits all the old haunts?

    Comment by Ray Ricci — September 23, 2007 @ 1:58 pm

  5. Great article. One of my favorite videos (that used to be on the jerseyboysbroadway site) was the one where Bobby Spencer describes the whole hook/ refrain/ verse thing that was a Four Seasons’ trademark. I learned so much from Bobby’s explanation.

    Is there a significance to Jilly’s nightclub, now the Russian Samovar, that I wasn’t aware of?

    Comment by Audrey — September 23, 2007 @ 10:00 pm

  6. What a great article featuring my friend John Michael Coppola, as well as an original “architect” of the Four Seasons, Bob Gaudio! The Food Network had a sort of “Sopranos” food tour, but it would be great if they did something related to the “Four Seasons” too, since they were not fictional characters, and their old haunts really did exist…..

    I spent so much time as a pre-teen in Trenton and Jersey City before, that I wished I could drive at the time and visit the nearby cities where the Four Seasons ate, lived and plied their trade…..

    Thanks to the author, Bob and John Michael, for their informative piece of life in New Jersey!

    Comment by Mike B. Magbaleta — September 24, 2007 @ 1:35 pm

  7. My daughter and I were lucky to see Coppola as Frankie last Tuesday night in Chicago. I’m 64 and she is 30…..and we were BOTH blown away by the show AND the incredible performance that Mr. Coppola offered. We thought that his representation of Valli was much better than the CD which we purchased at the show. Thank you for a wonderful evening and the incredible performance !!!

    Comment by Linda Lehmann — September 1, 2008 @ 3:56 pm

  8. I was a little too young to make it to Jilly’s when it was the place for real life “Jersey Boys” to hang out but saw a clip of it yesterday as I was watching the original “Manchurian Candidate” starring Hoboken Jersey Boy Frank Sinatra. The scene is where Sinatra’s character, Major Bennett, is to meet the troubled Raymond Shaw, Laurence Harvey, in a bar – what bar you might ask – Jilly’s of course. In the movie Jilly is talking to some customers about playing cards and solitaire in particular. Raymond Shaw asks for a deck of cards, which Jilly just happens to have close by, and when the Queen of Diamonds comes up, the next words Jilly speaks are “go take a jump in the lake” – for those not familar with the movie, the Queen of Diamonds is central to the mind control game being played out in the movie – so Shaw leaves Jilly’s to go to Central Park and jump in the lake, literally, and as Sinatra follows you get a good shot of the Neil Simon Theatre where “Hairspray” is now playing (at least until January) and a quick, out of focus shot, across the street of what is now the August Wilson Theatre.

    Comment by David Cace — December 7, 2008 @ 3:34 pm

  9. I just saw the show for the 3rd time a month ago (Saturday June 6th) and Mr. Coppola was on that day. They announced his name just before the show started because the actor slated to do the role that day became ill from what we were told. Mr. Coppola by far was the best Frankie I’d seen in Chicago. His emotional depth and singing were outstanding. How does it work with promoting actors because I don’t understand why someone that talented is doing the role full time? The other Frankies I’d seen were all great, but Mr.Coppola deserves to be recognized!

    Comment by Kelly Welsch — July 5, 2009 @ 12:20 pm

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