The Four Seasons

by Erika Cox
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The Four Seasons were probably the most successful white Doo Wop group during the early sixties.

Lead by Frankie Vali who had one of the most distinctive voices in music, the group's career lasted more than forty years. Frankie's unique three-octave falsetto helped the group have a series of hit singles from 1962 to 1967.

Frankie Vali was born Francis Castelluccio in 1937 in Newark, New Jersey where he grew up in a tough part of the city and came from a working class family. His mother encouraged Frankie's musical interest by taking him to see the big bands that played at the Adams Theater and Paramount Theaters in New Jersey and New York, but Frankie was more interested in jazz and R&B.

While attending a concert at the Paramount, he saw Frank Sinatra perform and from that point on Frankie knew he wanted to sing and be famous. Frankie did not receive singing lessons he actually taught himself how to sing by doing impressions of singers.

Like so many other singers that became famous, Frankie sang with several teen groups at club and school events, however, he started his career as a solo act and recorded his first song in 1953. He would later add two brothers who played the guitar, Nick and Tommy DeVito, and bassist Hank Majewski.

In 1956, the newly formed quartet called themselves The Four Lovers and signed with RCA Records. The group recorded their first single together called "You Are The Apple of My Eye", which had some minor success but to improve their chances the group started performing at clubs and lounges all over New York and New Jersey.

To some Frankie's voice was annoying, often compared to a shrieking and shrilling sound this prevented the group from having any initial success. However annoying it may have been, his signature voice allowed Frankie to hit notes and ranges without his voice breaking and would ultimately be what helped the group become a success.

The group eventually got a break when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan show three times in 1956. These appearances and American Bandstand playing their songs helped the group gain recognition. By 1960, the group underwent some member changes when Bob Guadio and Nick Massi replaced Nick DeVito and Hank Majewski. The group started calling themselves The Four Seasons named after a bowling alley in the New Jersey area.

In 1962, the group signed with Vee-Jee Records and shortly after recorded their first number one hit, "Sherry", which was written by the two new members of the group. Following "Sherry" the group recorded and released "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Walk Like A Man", all became top hits on the pop and R&B charts and they all displayed Frankie's unique falsetto. At first, "Sherry" didn't receive much airplay but when it was played on American Bandstand the song went all the way to the top of the charts. It was the group's first gold record and the fastest growing song in history. "Big Girls Don't Cry" was another number one hit and both songs stayed at number one for five weeks.

With their monumental success in 1962, the group felt their only rivals at the time were The Beach Boys. In 1964, they signed with Phillips record after a dispute with Vee-Jay and continued to have a number of Top Twenty songs. Unlike most groups, the British Invasion did not interrupt or undo the Four Seasons' successful career nor did Massi leaving the group hinder the success.

The Four Seasons continued to release songs and have hits at the top of the charts for the next three years. However in 1968, the group did hit a snag in their successful career when they tried to promote a different style of music with a new album, it was not a success and the group suffered a major blow resulting in their decline.

In 1974, Frankie made a comeback as a solo artist with "My Eyes Adored You", a number one hit and platinum success for him. He followed that up with a couple of more successful songs.

The same year, the Four Seasons made a successful comeback with a Top Ten hit called "Who Loves You" featuring Frankie Vali. Eventually Frankie left the group in 1978 to seek a solo career again, but after an unsuccessful attempt he reunited with The Four Seasons and the group recorded and toured as a six-member group in the 1980's. Frankie's voice is still pleasing crowds all over the country and abroad.

The Four Seasons were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

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