February 19, 2006

Frankie Valli’s Reflections on the Ups, the Downs, and the Smash Hit Jersey Boys

February 19th, 2006

The Providence Journal’s Leslie Gray Streeter states that The Four Seasons are a lot of things: American music icons, the 1960s standard-bearers of doo-wop pop, one of the few groups stateside to withstand and survive in the midst of Beatlemania and the craze over all things British, and the inspiration for one very popular Broadway show.

More than 40 years after The Four Seasons’ first hit Sherry, lead singer Frankie Valli thinks the group’s appeal is very simple. He says,

“We were a working-man’s group,” says Frankie Valli. “We were more of a blue-collar group. We appealed to that guy that was struggling a little bit more, who had not had an incredible opportunity to be educated. We were trying to say things that he would feel, in the way he would say them.”

Valli is delighted with the Broadway smash hit, Jersey Boys that is based on The Four Seasons’ real-life story. In particular, he is thrilled with the way writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and director Des McAnuff have translated the tale of four local guys drawn together by their love of doo-wop, a dream and a magical thing called four-part harmony. Valli is pleased and “pleasantly surprised” that Jersey Boys was, indeed done right, drawing on separate interviews with each guy.

Valli, who grew up in Newark, went to hear live music with his mother from an early age, and was heavily influenced by “the incredible amount of talent” he saw in his youth, including Frank Sinatra, Bill Eckstine, Little Jimmy Scott, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn.

Valli started singing with local groups while in his teens, showcasing the beginnings of that wonderful trademark falsetto that set him apart from other singers. Valli interpreted the sounds of the jazz legends, of vocal groups like the Four Freshman, the Hi-Los and the Modernaires. The Four Seasons’ sound, in turn, was a combination of some of those influences, and of the doo-wop they were hearing on the streets, made their own.

Valli has been through a lot of major ups and downs over the past five decades, but the singer says he’s he’s refused to ever be bitter about any of the downs, and completely grateful for the many ups, sounding like a kid from Jersey who’s learned to roll melodically with the punches.

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