November 27, 2007

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Joe Long–Part Three!

November 27th, 2007

Photos #6-11 courtesy of Linda Lenzi at BroadwayWorld.com.

In Part Three of his interview, Joe Long shares his thoughts on Jersey Boys, the music business, the amazing BC/EFA event last month, and why he thinks so many people have such a strong connection to the music of The Four Seasons.

JBB: We read on the GILG website that your longtime fans honored you with a tribute last year. Could you tell us about the evening?

JL: It was an incredible evening. I will never, ever forget it. The fans arranged my tribute in a really nice restaurant in New York. Getting to meet with everyone, and then hearing the incredible testimonials from fans and former members of The Four Seasons. It was an honor and something I will always remember.

JBB: You saw Jersey Boys last year and had the opportunity to meet the cast. What did you think about the show? As someone who lived it, did it capture the essence of being a rock star and being a member of The 4 Seasons? As most Seasons’ fans know, you were with the group for eleven years. Do you think you should have been mentioned more in the play?

JL: It was great! Yes, it did capture the essence of being a member of The 4 Seasons. It’s all true, although the timeline is skewed and the writers took some liberties with some exaggerations. The play shows me as joining the group around 1970. Actually, by that time, I had been with the Seasons for about six years. Sure, part of me would have liked to have a little more presence in the show, but it’s the story of the original 4 Seasons and it emphasizes the story and the music. The authors’ foresight about intertwining the music into the story was brilliant!

JBB: As you know, Jersey Boys is the hottest show on Broadway and on tour. What do you think it is it about the story and the music that makes the audience feel so connected?

JL: I think it strikes home with people. Audience members might have known someone like one of the guys, or they may see themselves up there. Four guys on a street corner singing—you feel a connection; you can identify with the group.

JBB: Meeting and seeing you, Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, and Tommy DeVito together at last month’s “Jersey Boys Fans Unite to Support BC/EFA” event was truly a dream come true for many Four Seasons’ fans! Who approached you about the appearance? What was it like for you to reunite with the guys and to meet your longtime fans and the new fans?

JL: Charles Alexander reached out to me and I was thrilled to come to the event with The Four Seasons and the Jersey Boys cast! It was the first time in over 30 years that Frankie, Bobby, Tommy, and I were in the same room together. We had a lot of catching up to do (chuckles). I would like to thank all the fans. It was a great happy surprise to see that the fans still know me and I am eternally grateful.

JBB: What have you done since leaving the 4 Seasons? Did you remain in the music business?

JL: I still play an occasional gig. And, I have done a few recording sessions with Tommy. For the most part, though, I am retired.

JBB: Although the music industry has changed in the last 40 years, what advice would you give young bass players and vocalists of today who want to make it in the music business?

JL: Kids today might be looking for instant gratification. You know, learn a couple of chords on their guitars, and start a band. Sure, they might get two or three hits, but then what? If they really want to sustain themselves as musicians, I would advise them to study, go to a conservatory or enroll a music program and get a real foundation in music and get as much education as they can.

JBB: In Jersey Boys, Bob Gaudio says, “We weren’t a social movement like the Beatles. Our fans didn’t put flowers in their hair and levitate the Pentagon. Maybe they should have. Our people were the guys who shipped overseas and their sweethearts. They were the factory workers, the truck drivers. The kids pumping gas, flipping burgers. The pretty girl with circles under her eyes behind the counter at the diner. They were the ones who really got us, who pushed us over the top.”

The music of The 4 Seasons has taken many of us on the best musical ride for over 45 years! Joe, why do you think so many people have such a strong connection to The 4 Seasons’ music?

JL: I think people, all people, male, female, young or old, can identify with our music. The songs remind them of a favorite time, a special place, or a special guy or girl.

Also, our music seemed to be very personal, and easy to understand. As young guys, my friends and I used to hang out “on street corners” and sing harmony. I think when people heard Seasons’ records, they thought, ‘Hey, we could do that!’ Unfortunately, for them, it was not easy music to reproduce. But it gave that impression.

A while back, I was having lunch with a friend, Peter Bartelli, a former Navy pilot who flew missions in Vietnam. He also happens to be a Four Seasons fan. Pete is now a Captain for Continental Airlines. He mentioned to me that he took our tapes on his missions. It was a touch of home for him.

Interviewing Joe Long was truly an extraordinary privilege! I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to Joe for sharing his thoughts and insights into his early days as a young musician and his legendary career as a member of The Four Seasons, in addition to his reflections on Jersey Boys and the music business. Thank you, Mr. Joe LaBracio for this amazing experience! You ROCK!

16 Comments »

  1. In his day, Joe Long looked a bit like Trini Lopez, don’t you think?

    Comment by Gary — November 28, 2007 @ 12:06 am

  2. Dear Susie and Dale, The Joe Long interview was one of the best things you have ever done. The fans of this terrific man can’t thank you enough. Joe is as articulate with words as he is with music. What a cool story about his friend the Navy pilot who listened to the Seasons while flying in Vietnam. That means that one of the projections shown in Jersey Boys during the Dawn Go Away scene is literally true. And even though I’m one of the world’s biggest fans, I had never seen picture #3. JBB is WGB — World’s Greatest Blog. With appreciation, Charles

    Comment by Charles Alexander — November 28, 2007 @ 6:23 am

  3. Thanks to the Jersey Boys Blog, the ever expanding fan base of the 4 Seasons got a glimpse into the life of a very special man: Joe Long. Thank you Susie and Dale.

    Comment by David Cace — November 28, 2007 @ 9:02 am

  4. Even though we are still saddened by the death of Nick Massi, it is great that there is an early lineup of the Four Seasons that is still intact-Frankie, Bob, Tom, and Joe Long. Sadly, not many early lineups of rock groups from the 1960s can still do that. Thanks, Mr. Long, for all of the great inforamtion in these interviews.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — November 28, 2007 @ 10:07 am

  5. As a long-time fan of The 4 Seasons, I greatly enjoyed your three-part interview with Joe Long. Your in-depth interview allowed me to get a better appreciation of his contribution to the group and his first-hand observations and viewpoints in being a member of the group during its heyday and beyond. Thank you, Susie and Dale, for this rare and unique look inside The 4 Seasons.

    Comment by Len Gersten — November 28, 2007 @ 11:07 am

  6. It’s great to see Joe Long again. Recognition of his contributions to the band are long overdue.

    On a side note, I believe that the Four Seasons are
    the only major 60′s act where 75% of its original members are still with us!

    Great post, great site.

    Comment by Ray Ricci — November 28, 2007 @ 12:43 pm

  7. I hope everyone who reads Part 3 of this great interview follows the link to the GILG website. Ironically and inexplicably, I had the good fortune to read Frank Rovello’s account of the special get together last year- the night before the Tribute on Oct. 21st; having NO clue that I would actually meet the famous Joe Long the next day!

    It felt like a divinely staged moment as Joe walked up the stairs- arriving at the event with Marianne and his kids, Joey and Kim. It was rather surreal; with all the tributes posted from April 28, 2006 flooding my mind. (The line comes to mind… ’I told you, it wasn’t no vision.’)

    He has a real presence- a way of connecting with people. It’s easy to imagine his ability to cohesively ‘emcee’ the band’s energy on stage in conjunction with the audience’s.

    Be sure to check out the ‘text & authors of the tributes’ link. The fan’s tribute by Stuart Miller summed up my experience of Joe that evening last month. Thanks to Charles and everyone for insuring that Joe was there. It’s still amazing that these four Seasons were able to attend.

    It IS a shame that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame didn’t come to the obvious conclusion to officially include you, Joe, but we know the truth- as Frankie’s tribute communicated that night- “You will always be a Hall of Famer WITH us…”

    Thanks so much, Susie, for bringing us these in-depth interviews with a real living legend; a man with heart, charisma, character as well as time-tested musical and people skills.

    Mr. Joe Long, thank YOU for your contribution to the historic, unending and mega-appeal of the Four Seasons.

    Comment by Audrey — November 28, 2007 @ 5:23 pm

  8. What a terrific interview with a talented and genuinely nice person. Truly an asset to the group.

    Comment by LindaL — November 28, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

  9. As a newer Four Seasons fan, this three-part interview answered a lot of questions I’ve had about Joe Long and the 4 Seasons in the late ’60s and ’70s. Thanks for the great interviews and photos.

    Comment by Greg — December 5, 2007 @ 12:20 am

  10. Thanks to everyone for your comments on the interviews with the amazing Joe Long! It was an incredible honor to speak with Joe and truly one of the most exciting things to happen to us since creating JB Blog!

    Comment by Susie — December 5, 2007 @ 8:15 pm

  11. Hi Joey
    A long time since you sang at that night club in New York and I played the piano. Chet Swistock was with us and Frankie Kovacs. I knew even then that one day you would make it big.
    Good memories…
    Sharlie

    Comment by Sharlie (Kovacs) Bouic — July 30, 2008 @ 1:36 pm

  12. Still the sexiest bass player ever!!! Love Ya!!! Deb.

    Comment by Debbie W. — August 1, 2008 @ 3:25 pm

  13. Saw JB last week. What a GREAT show!! Fortunate to have been around from their beginning, the Four Seasons were/are a true American icon. So many fantastic songs and the arrangements were spectacular. The sound of the original records is like listening to today’s technology; clean, full, just great. Does anybody know who the drummer(s) on those records were? That guy was fantastic! I remember when Joe Long became a member in the mid 60s, but never knew why Nick Massi left the band until seeing the show. Whatever…..Joe Long deserved to have been included in the groups induction into the R&R HOF. He was there long enough and played on many of their big hits. The Stones included Mick Taylor (very deservedly so) when he replaced founding member Brian Jones when they were inducted. Joe Long deserved the same treatment from the Four Seasons. ‘Nuf said!

    Comment by Peter — January 13, 2009 @ 10:38 am

  14. Uncle Joe, How exciting to see this website and know that others get to share in our joy. Our joy of knowing your history! You have lived in the background for a while now with true humility. Never have you asked for your share of the pot. I hope some day they will welcome you into the Hall of Fame and all of your family friends and devoted fans will be there to celebrate. Love you, Debbie

    Comment by Debbie milano-Field — February 8, 2009 @ 10:51 pm

  15. Joey – Henry Marcantonio and I were high school buddies at St Mary’s and ‘distant’ relatives(his cousin Pat married my cousin Bob). Henry introduced me to you and we partied at your place across from Spirito’s in 70/71?. My first celebrity encounter! Congratulations on all your contributions to the Four Seasons. Going to see JB in Raleigh, NC this Sunday 12 Jul 09. I’m sure the music will bring back great memories of my times in Peterstown/Berg/Bayway.

    Comment by Gary Krynicki — July 10, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

  16. Cousin Joe
    I call you cousin because growing up in Peterstown and sharing the same Uncle Charlie and Aunt Tessie, that makes us automatic cousins. My mom Rose and I hope you are doing well!!! We’ve gone to see Jersey Boys with different members of the family on 3 separate occasions.
    Just want you to know that before the show came to NY and when it was still on the west coast, I wrote to the director and reminded him that you were a “significant ” member of the group and to please give you the recognition that you earned and deserved !
    Class Act Cousin and stay well !!
    JohnnyBoy Moretti

    Comment by John Moretti — February 26, 2013 @ 10:46 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. | TrackBack URI

Please leave a comment