I was watching Frankie Valli being interviewed on The Big Interview by Dan Rather, and was saddened to know, that he had lost two children in a short time period. He lost his daughter Celia, when she fell off a fire escape, then six months later his daughter Francine died from a drug overdose. Their deaths drove him to drinking, but he eventually recovered from the deep depression he was in.
Valli was born on May 3, 1934 in Newark, New Jersey as Francesco Stephen Castellucio. He was inspired to become a singer at the age of 7, when he saw Frank Sinatra in concert.
He told about growing up in a Mafia neighborhood, and how the word was out to leave him alone. He told Rather that he lost a lot of friends, who were found in trunks of car in mob killings.
His name was changed when his mentor “Texas” Jane Valli was helping him and he decided to take her last name. It was about this time, that Valli was barbering till he became successful in the music business.
The Four Seasons
First Number One Hits
Success didn’t come easy for Valli who started singing in 1951, and he sang with various groups till the Four Seasons were formed in 1960 and named after a cocktail lounge.
Vee Jay record label was the label that they found the most success with. Sherry and Big Girls Don’t Cry both debuted in 1962 and went to #1 on the Billboard chart. Walk Like a Man was their last #1 hit on the Vee Jay label in 1963.
Moved to Philips/Smash Label
They had their first hit on the Philips/Smash label, when they recorded Dawn which went to #3 in January of 1964. Rag Doll was their last #1 song in June of 1964. Valli started recording albums as a solo artist, but still worked with the Four Seasons.
May of 1967 would bring his first solo hit in My Eyes Adored You which went to #1 on the Billboard chart.
Valli changed labels again and would record Oh What A Night in December of 1975 on Private Stock record label. He would record his last #1 hit in May of 1978, when Grease went to the top spot on the Billboard chart.
He didn’t record another single that charted after June of 1994 according to his Wikipedia discography.
More From Interview
Dan Rather asked Valli why he is still singing at 81, and he said that he wouldn’t know what to do with himself. He said he tried retiring a time or two, but it just made him want to return to singing. Rather mentioned the excellent memory of Valli and he said he memorized the lyrics to about 2,000 songs.
Valli also mentioned about his acting career and said he had been on Sopranos television program and was recently on a Hawaii Five-0 episode.
He said he had plenty of money, but still won’t buy something until it is on sale. He says he got that from his childhood.
The Four Seasons were one of those groups like the Beach Boys and Bee Gees, that had their own distinct sound. Valli’s falsetto voice is what made the Four Seasons stand out from the other groups.
We are wishing Frankie Valli a lot more years on the road. He is truly an American icon.