Frankie Valli, who came to fame in 1962 as the lead singer of The Four Seasons, will receive PPB’s Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award from President Alan Perris at our celebrity luncheon October 6 in Sportsmen’s Lodge.
Thanks to the volcanic success of the Tony-winning musical “Jersey Boys,” which chronicles the life and times of Frankie and his legendary group, such classic songs as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Rag Doll,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” are all the rage all over again. There’s something about Frankie’s music that makes young people of every generation want to get up and dance.
Born Francis Castelluccio in Newark, NJ, Valli grew up in a rough and tough public housing project and decided at age seven to become a famous singer after his mother took him to New York City to see Frank Sinatra. Frankie and three friends discovered that making music was a good way to stay out of jail and out of car trunks as corpses in Newark.
Performing under several names, the group finally adopted The Four Seasons, named for a lounge in which they were performing at the time. When the unknown Seasons sang “Sherry” on American Bandstand, they suddenly became the hottest band in the land, and after nine years as a recording artist, Frankie Valli became an “overnight” sensation with a number one hit record. He was the first to use his remarkable falsetto voice out front in their songs.
From 1962 to 1978, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons sold more than 100 million records and they continued to be a top concert draw. Radio constantly played their classics and the new remixes that kept popping up on the charts. In 1990 Frankie and the other original Seasons were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Seasons’ music was featured prominently in the hit HBO series “The Sopranos,” and Frankie guest starred in seasons 5 and 6 as mobster Rusty Millio until Rusty’s unfortunate demise in a hail of bullets.
Frankie Valli shows no signs of slowing down. As his character says at the end of “Jersey Boys:” “Like that bunny on TV with the battery, I just keep going and going and going.” It seems that for as long as he wants to sing, people will want to listen.