Frankie Valli
Valli singing into a microphone onstage
Valli performing in 2012
Background information
Birth nameFrancesco Stephen Castelluccio
Also known asFrankie Valley
Born (1934-05-03) May 3, 1934 (age 89)
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)Singer
Years active1953–present
Member ofThe Four Seasons
Formerly ofThe Four Lovers
Spouse(s)
Mary Mandel
(m. 1957; div. 1971)
MaryAnn Hannigan
(m. 1974; div. 1982)
Randy Clohessy
(m. 1984; div. 2004)
Jackie Jacobs
(m. 2023)
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

Francesco Stephen Castelluccio (born May 3, 1934), better known by his stage name Frankie Valli, is an American singer, known as the frontman of the Four Seasons beginning in 1960. He is known for his unusually powerful lead falsetto voice.[3][4]

Valli scored 29 top 40 hits with the Four Seasons, one top 40 hit under the Four Seasons alias the Wonder Who?, and nine top 40 hits as a solo artist. As a member of the Four Seasons, Valli's number-one hits include "Sherry" (1962), "Big Girls Don't Cry" (1962), "Walk Like a Man" (1963), "Rag Doll" (1964) and "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" (1975). Valli's recording of the song "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" reached number two in 1967. As a solo artist, Valli scored number-one hits with the songs "My Eyes Adored You" (1974) and "Grease" (1978).

Valli, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Bob Gaudio—the original members of the Four Seasons—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990[5] and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.[6]

Early life

Valli was born Francesco Stephen Castelluccio[7] on May 3, 1934[8] to an Italian family in the First Ward of Newark, New Jersey; he was the eldest of three sons.[9] His father, Anthony Castelluccio, was a barber and display designer for Lionel model trains; his mother, Mary Rinaldi, was a homemaker and beer company employee.[10][11][12][13] He was inspired to take up a singing career at age seven after his mother took him to see Frank Sinatra at the Paramount Theater in New York City.[14] One of his early favorite singers was "Texas" Jean Valli, from whom he took his stage name.[15] He worked as a barber until he could support himself with music.[14]

Valli's birth year has been called into question. He never addressed the issue himself until a 2007 posting at the Official Frankie Valli Site, sponsored by his record label Universal Records.[14] Much of his previous official publicity used 1937 as his birth year. Other sources gave his year of birth as 1934, such as the Bear Family Records release The Four Lovers (BCD 15424) and a 1965 mug shot, available through The Smoking Gun.[16]

Music career

See also: The Four Seasons § History

Valli began his singing career in the early 1950s with the Variety Trio (Nickie DeVito, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Macioci). His desire to sing in public was initially granted when the group offered him a guest spot when they performed. In late 1952, the Variety Trio disbanded and Valli and Tommy DeVito became part of the house band at The Strand in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Valli played bass and sang.

Valli recorded his first single, "My Mother's Eyes", in 1953, a cover of the 1929 George Jessel song from Lucky Boy. He recorded it as "Frankie Valley", a variation on a name he adopted from "Texas" Jean Valli, a female hillbilly singer. Geoff Herbert explains, "Frankie said in 2010 that Jean took him to meet music publishers Paul and Dave Kapp, telling them he was her brother. As a result, his first single was listed under 'Frankie Valley', and the name stuck—though he eventually changed it to the same spelling" that Texas Jean used.[17]

Around this time, Valli and Tommy DeVito left the house band at The Strand and formed The Variatones with Hank Majewski, Frank Cottone, and Billy Thompson. In 1956, the group impressed New York recording agent Peter Paul, and he got them an audition at RCA Victor a week later.

The group changed its name to the Four Lovers and recorded several singles and an album's worth of tracks. They had a minor hit with "You're the Apple of My Eye" in 1956. Nickie DeVito and Hank Majewski left in 1958 to be replaced by Nick Macioci (now Nick Massi) and Hugh Garrity. Massi was in and out of the group, and Charles Calello occasionally joined on accordion. The group continued to perform until 1959, when Bob Gaudio became a member. It changed its name to "The Four Seasons" in 1960 after a bowling alley in Union, New Jersey, in whose cocktail lounge it had auditioned.[18][19][20][21][22]

As the lead singer of the Four Seasons, Valli had a string of hits, beginning with the number-one hit "Sherry" in 1962 and continuing through most of the rest of the decade.

Valli (front, center) with the Four Seasons in 1966.

During the 1960s, Gaudio and his songwriting partner Bob Crewe worked with Valli to craft solo recordings, with varying degrees of success. It was rare at the time for a major recording artist to perform solo in opposition to his own group; Buddy Holly and the Crickets were an exception. Valli's debut solo album was a collection of single releases and a few new recordings. He used the opportunity to transition away from the power falsetto that had made Valli and the Four Seasons famous, showcasing a natural tenor voice that Valli had always preferred.[23]

"You're Ready Now", a Valli solo recording from 1966, became part of the Northern soul scene and reached number eleven on the UK Singles Chart in December 1970. "The Night" originally released in 1970 also became a huge Northern soul hit and as a result it reached number seven on the UK Singles Chart in 1975.[24]

In 1975, his single "My Eyes Adored You" hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached number 5 in the UK chart. This caused an awkward situation within the band, as Valli's label at the time, Private Stock Records, was willing to sign Valli but not the band. Warner Bros. Records was willing to sign the band, but greatly preferred if someone other than Valli sang lead vocals. As part of that agreement, Valli—with great reluctance—ceded some of the lead vocals for the group to new band members Gerry Polci and, to a lesser extent, Don Ciccone.[25] In the same year, he also had a number six Billboard hit with the disco-laden "Swearin' to God" reaching number 31 in the UK chart, while further UK chart success came with "Fallen Angel", written by Guy Fletcher and Doug Flett. Valli was in the UK charts, reaching number 11. Meanwhile, the Four Seasons had a string of hits from their new LP Who Loves You in 1975; the title track with Valli, "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" with Valli, Polci and Ciccone, and "Silver Star" with Polci alone.

In 1976, Valli covered the Beatles song "A Day in the Life" for the ephemeral musical documentary All This and World War II.

In 1978, with the Four Seasons temporarily broken up, Valli embarked on a solo tour[25] and sang the theme song for the film version of the stage play Grease, a song by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, which became a number one hit. He had two further chart successes over the next year: "Save Me, Save Me" in November 1978, which entered the Billboard Easy Listening chart, and "Fancy Dancer" in January 1979, which entered the pop charts.[11]

Valli began suffering from otosclerosis in 1967, forcing him to "sing from memory" in the latter part of the 1970s. Surgery performed by Los Angeles ear specialist Victor Goodhill restored most of his hearing by 1980.[26][27]

Valli performing at the Saban Theatre in 2013

In 2005, the musical Jersey Boys opened on Broadway. Besides performances of many of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons hit recordings, it has a biographical narrative, told from four separate points of view by each member of the Four Seasons (DeVito, Valli, Massi and Gaudio). John Lloyd Young portrayed Valli in the original production, while West End's production Ryan Molloy is the "longest-serving Frankie Valli".[28][29] The musical dramatizes several real-life incidents from Valli's life, including his estrangement from daughter Francine, who died in 1980. The show has been widely acclaimed, financially successful, and was nominated for eight Tony Awards, winning four, notably Best Musical, Actor, and Supporting Actor. It has touring companies around the world, as well as a version at Paris Las Vegas, and was adapted into a 2014 film of the same name directed by Clint Eastwood, with Young again appearing as Valli; Valli was less enthusiastic about the film, believing that some parts were miscast and that Eastwood was a poor fit for the material.[30]

In October 2007, Valli released Romancing the '60s, an album containing covers of his favorite songs from the 1960s, two of which—"Sunny" and "Any Day Now"—he had previously recorded.[14] It was Valli's first solo album in nearly 27 years since 1980's Heaven Above Me.

In 2012, Valli made his Broadway debut with a week-long concert engagement at the Broadway Theatre in New York starting October 19.[7][31]

From March 2016 to January 2017, "Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons" were touring the US, scheduled to play small-to-mid-size venues such as the Silver Legacy Casino in Reno, Nevada, the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona and the County Fair in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.[32] In October 2016, Valli released his first solo album in nine years, 'Tis the Seasons, which features some of his favorite Christmas songs.

As part of the BBC Proms in the Park Valli, together with the Four Seasons performed with the BBC Concert Orchestra in Hyde Park on September 10, 2016.[33]

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons continued touring in 2018 and 2019, with a new lineup after his lineup since 2003 spun off as its own act, The Modern Gentlemen. In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic canceled all touring plans. Touring resumed in the summer of 2021 with dates scheduled through October 2024; in October 2023, Valli indicated that it would be his farewell tour and that The Four Seasons would effectively end its 64-year run with his retirement.[34] Valli did not rule out future performances after the tour ends but noted that the nature of touring, and a move from longer residencies to frequent one-night stops, was wearing on him, while the actual act of performing each night was not.[35] In June 2021, Valli released his 12th studio album, his first in five years, Touch of Jazz, which features a collection of jazz cover songs.

Acting career

Valli has appeared as an actor in Miami Vice (as Mafia boss Frank Doss), Full House, the 1998 TV movie Witness to the Mob (as Frank LoCascio of the Gambino crime family), The Sopranos (as mobster Rusty Millio), and the 2014 film And So It Goes.[36]

On the November 21, 2014, episode of Hawaii Five-0 entitled "Ka Hana malu (Inside Job)", Valli played mysterious lawyer Leonard Cassano, who was engaged to Carol Burnett's character, Aunt Deb.[37]

In 2015, Valli did interviews as himself on the AMC television series The Making of the Mob: New York.[38]

Personal life

Valli has been married four times. He married his first wife, Mary, who already had a two-year-old daughter named Celia, in his early twenties. They raised two daughters together, Antonia and Francine, and divorced after 13 years in 1971. He married MaryAnn Hannagan in 1974, and that marriage lasted eight years. He then married Randy Clohessy in 1984; they had three sons and separated in 2004. In 1980, his stepdaughter, Celia, was killed when she fell off a fire escape. Six months later, Francine, his youngest daughter from his marriage to Mary, died reportedly from a drug overdose.[27][12][39] Antonia later briefly married Four Seasons drummer/vocalist Gerry Polci, and their daughter Olivia Polci, who also adopted the stage surname Valli, is a professional stage actress.[40] She portrayed her grandmother Mary in a Jersey Boys production in 2019.[41] Frankie married Jackie Jacobs on June 26, 2023, in Las Vegas.[42] Valli and Jacobs reside in Encino, California.[35]

One issue in Valli's third divorce went up on appeal to the Supreme Court of California: whether a life insurance policy purchased in 2003 was community property. On May 15, 2014, the Court unanimously affirmed the trial court's ruling that the policy was community property (and not Randy's separate property), in an opinion signed by Associate Justice Joyce Kennard.[43][44]

Those who have interviewed Valli have noted a conservative streak to his social and political views, though Valli has rarely addressed his views on those topics in-depth.[30][35]

Discography

Studio albums

For albums recorded as part of the Four Seasons, see The Four Seasons albums discography

Date of release Title Billboard peak[45] Label Catalog number
June 1967 The 4 Seasons Present Frankie Valli Solo 34 Philips 200-247 (Mono) / 600-247 (Stereo)
July 1968 Timeless 176 600-274
February 1975 Closeup 51 Private Stock PS 2000
September 1975 Inside You
(five new tracks plus four previously released tracks, remixed; "The Night" with the Four Seasons)
Motown M6-852S1
November 1975 Our Day Will Come 107 Private Stock PS 2006
September 1976 Valli PS 2017
November 1977 Lady Put the Light Out PS 7002
August 1978 Frankie Valli... Is the Word 160 Warner Bros/Curb BS 3233
November 1980 Heaven Above Me MCA/Curb 5134
October 2007 Romancing the '60s 167 Cherry Entertainment/Universal Motown B0009908-02
October 2016 'Tis the Seasons[46] Rhino R2556984
June 2021 A Touch of Jazz Green Hill Music B0942DW3VX

Singles

For singles recorded as part of the Four Seasons, see The Four Seasons singles discography

References

  1. ^ Breihan, Tom (2019). "The Number Ones: Frankie Valli's "Grease"". StereoGum.
  2. ^ Blues & Soul. Napfield Limited. 1985.
  3. ^ Cohen, Howard (May 23, 2017). "Head Jersey Boy Frankie Valli is 83 and somehow still sings like a teen". Miami Herald. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  4. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (June 27, 2012). "Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – review". The Guardian. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  5. ^ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame entry for "The Four Seasons".
  6. ^ Vocal Group Hall of Fame entry Archived October 24, 2007, at the Wayback Machine for "The Four Seasons".
  7. ^ a b "Frankie Valli on Hair Products and Finding His Falsetto". National Public Radio Weekend Edition Saturday. NPR. September 29, 2012. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
  8. ^ New Jersey, Naturalization Records, 1878-1945 for Donata Maria Castelluccio
  9. ^ "See the childhood homes of Springsteen, Whitney Houston & other N.J. celebs". NJ.com. September 19, 2017. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  10. ^ "Frankie Valli's town Newark honors pop singer as favorite son". The Record. October 29, 1987.
  11. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. "Frankie Valli biography". AllMusic. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  12. ^ a b Cruz, Anne Marie (May 26, 2008). "Frankie Valli Oh, What a Life!". People. 69 (20). Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  13. ^ Jackson, Chanta L (November 12, 2008). "Bobbi Valli makes his own voice heard". NJ.com. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c d "Biography". Official Frankie Valli Site. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  15. ^ Herbert, George (June 20, 2014). "Long before 'Jersey Boys,' Frankie Valli stole his name from a Syracuse hillbilly singer". Syracuse.com. Retrieved October 14, 2016.
  16. ^ "Frankie Valli mug shot". The Smoking Gun. Retrieved October 6, 2013.
  17. ^ Herbert, Geoff (June 20, 2014). "Long before 'Jersey Boys,' Frankie Valli stole his name from a Syracuse hillbilly singer". Syracuse.com. Syracuse Media Group. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  18. ^ Gollender, Walter (December 1972). "The Four Lovers". Bim Bam Boom No. 8.
  19. ^ Engel, Ed (August 1977). "Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons". Time Barrier No. 23.
  20. ^ Woodard, Rex (June 1982). "Four Lovers". Goldmine No. 73.
  21. ^ Grendysa, Peter (1989). The Four Lovers, liner notes, "The Four Lovers", Bear Family Records BCD-15424.
  22. ^ Harrington, Richard (June 1983). "Frankie Bayyy-aaa-beee!: Doing a Solo, Hanging on to What He's Got Frankie Valli's High Notes". The Washington Post.
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  26. ^ Bronson, Fred (1992). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (3rd edition). Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-8298-9.
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  28. ^ Bosanquet, Theo (February 11, 2014). "Ryan Molloy announces Jersey Boys departure after six years in role". WhatsOnStage.com. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  29. ^ "Ryan Molloy: 'I fear leaving Jersey Boys'". WhatsOnStage.com. October 27, 2013. Retrieved October 26, 2023.
  30. ^ a b "The Anthem is back ? and so is Frankie Valli, in concert with the Four Seasons - The Washington Post". The Washington Post.
  31. ^ Gardner, Elysa (October 19, 2012). "50 years on, a Jersey Boy arrives on Broadway". USA Today. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
  32. ^ "Frankie Valli Shows". Frankie Valli. 2016. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  33. ^ "BBC Proms in the Park Hyde Park". BBC.co.uk. BBC. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  34. ^ "Frankie Valli Announces "The Last Encores" 2023-2024 Tour Dates". October 4, 2023. Retrieved October 5, 2023.
  35. ^ a b c Wood, Mikael (October 25, 2023). "At 89, Frankie Valli is ready for one last encore". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 26, 2023.
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  37. ^ "'Hawaii Five-0' Sneak Peek: Legends Carol Burnett and Frankie Valli are Getting Married!". Entertainment Tonight. November 21, 2014. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  38. ^ Keveney, Bill (June 22, 2015). "'Making of the Mob' brings out the big guns". USA Today. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  39. ^ Lockett, Dee (June 20, 2014). "Jersey Boys accuracy: Fact-checking Clint Eastwood's Four Seasons biopic". BrowBeat. Slate. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
  40. ^ Gioia, Michael (June 17, 2022). "Frankie Valli and Musical Star Granddaughter Olivia on Their Shared Love of Performing — and Pasta". People. Retrieved June 28, 2023.
  41. ^ Mirrione, Joe (December 8, 2014). "Frankie Valli's Granddaughter to Make Debut This Thursday at Bergen PAC". Pop, Rock & Doo Wopp Live. Archived from the original on November 28, 2019. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  42. ^ Irvin, Jack (June 26, 2023). "Frankie Valli Is Married! Four Seasons Frontman Weds Jackie Jacobs in Las Vegas (Exclusive)". People. Dotdash Meredith. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
  43. ^ Egelko, Bob (May 16, 2014). "Frankie Valli wins divorce case in California Supreme Court". San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  44. ^ In re Marriage of Valli, 58 Cal.4th 1396, 171 Cal.Rptr.3d 454, 324 P.3d 274 (2014).
  45. ^ "Frankie Valli : Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved April 29, 2012.
  46. ^ "Frankie Valli – Tis The Seasons". Amazon.com. 2016.