The Four Seasons (also known, off and on, as Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons) is an American pop and rock group that came about in 1960 after Bob Gaudio joined up with musicians Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Massi, all of them from Newark, New Jersey. The Seasons' first hit, titled "Sherry", came out in 1962. With producer Bob Crewe, Gaudio wrote a string of subsequent tunes that were big hits for the Seasons in the 60s , including "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Walk Like a Man", "Ronnie", "Save It For Me", and "Bye Bye Baby". With a sound somewhat reminiscent of doo-wop, the Seasons soon became an internationally famous rock n roll group, inspiring many other artists. The quartet's story is told in a somewhat fictionalized form in the Tony Award winning musical 'Jersey Boys'.
In 1960, the group known as The Four Lovers evolved into The Four Seasons. Its initial line-up featured Frankie Valli as the lead singer, Bob Gaudio (formerly of The Royal Teens) on keyboards and tenor vocals, Tommy DeVito on lead guitar and baritone vocals, and Nick Massi on bass guitar and bass vocals. Massi was replaced in 1965 by Charles Calello, who was in turn replaced later in 1965 by Joe Long on bass guitar and bass vocals.
Frankie Valli and Tommy DeVito had previously performed with Nick DeVito (Tommy's twin brother) alongside Hank Majewski as the aforementioned Four Lovers. As stated before, the Four Seasons released their first hit, titled "Sherry", in 1962. Under the guidance of producer and songwriter Bob Crewe, The Four Seasons followed up "Sherry" with several well-remembered hits, including "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Dawn", "Walk Like a Man", "Candy Girl" and "Save It for Me". Nick Massi left the Four Seasons in 1965 and was replaced by Joe Long, who became the mainstay on bass and backup vocals until 1976. Several more Top 10 singles followed, including "Let's Hang On", "Working My Way Back To You", "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and "C'mon Marianne"; but by late 1967, the group's popularity was deteriorating, as public interest moved towards rock with a harder edge and more socially conscious lyrics. The group would, however, enjoy a brief revival in their popularity in the mid-1970s, with the hits "Who Loves You", "Swearin' to God" and their last number one hit "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)". Don Ciccone was a member of the Four Seasons in 1976 and was lead vocal on several songs, such as "Slip Away", "Let's Get It Right" and "Rhapsody". He played lead guitar.
The Four Seasons (group members 1961-1965) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. Jersey Boys, a musical play based on the lives of The Four Seasons, directed by Des McAnuff (The Who's Tommy, 700 Sundays) premiered at his La Jolla (California) Playhouse and opened on Broadway on November 6, 2005 to generally positive reviews. It won 2006 Tony Awards for Best Leading and Featured Actor in a Musical won by John Lloyd Young & Christian Hoff, Best Light Design in a Musical and Best Musical.
The group's music was one of many influences to the Jersey Shore sound of the 1970's and 1980's. However, by the 1980s, Frankie Valli was the only original group member left. Frankie Valli still tours today, performing many of The Four Seasons classic songs. Nick Massi died in 2000 of cancer. Despite Joe Long's extensive contributions to The Four Seasons, Joe Long remains the only member of the group's “definitive line-up” not inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, most likely because he was not in the original group. Much controversy still exists over this decision, especially in light of the many top-10 hits the group had during his tenure.
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