Frankie Valli: 81 Years Old And Still Entertaining

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.

Changing Labels

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.

Frankie Valli Still Going Strong At 79

Frankie Valli earlier in his career.

Frankie Valli was born Francesco Stephen Castelluccio on May 3, 1934 in Newark, New Jersey. The 79 year-old singer appeared on American Idol singing his classic hits Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You and Grease in the Season 12 American Idol finale.

Frankie Valli shown with Curtis Finch, Burnell Taylor and Lazaro Arbos on the stage during the Season 12 finale for American Idol.

Valli was enticed to sing after seeing Frank Sinatra in concert at the Paramount Theater in New York City. He appeared with various groups, but his main claim to fame came during his time singing with the Four Seasons. The group had monster hits like Sherry, Walk Like A Man, Big Girls Don’t Cry, which all went to No.1 on the Billboard charts in 1962 and 1963. Another 1963 hit Candy Girl peaked at No.3. Dawn (Go Away) would also climb to No.3.

His first hit as a soloist was Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You, which reached the No.1 spot on the Billboard charts. My Eyes Adored You went to No.1 in 1974, then he had his last No.1 solo song with Grease.

An interesting note of trivia is that the Four Seasons were named after a New Jersey bowling alley.

When Valli recorded solo albums he sang in his regular voice, not the falsetto he used with the Four Seasons. Valli sounded good whether singing in falsetto or regular voice.

The Four Seasons and Valli weren’t affected by the British invasion, as they didn’t alter their sound to fit in with the Beatles craze.

The late 70’s would see Valli battle otosclerosis, which causes loss of hearing. He would have to sing from memory during this time and but would regain his hearing in 1980.

He would record his first solo album in 27 years in 2007 and is still active today 62 years after he first became an active singer.

A crowning achievement for Valli and Four Seasons was their induction, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

These are some 30 second clips of the Four Seasons and Frankie Valli hits:

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/frankie-valli-mn0000794449/songs

Four Seasons singing Working My Way Back To You

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pI1BgbYIPk

Four Seasons singing a medley of Dawn, Rag Doll and Bye Bye Baby

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmFFsBCHLB0

Ryan Seacrest who is usually shorter than most of the singers on American Idol had to be happy, to stand next to the diminutive Frankie Valli who is five foot five, so Seacrest towered over him at five foot eight.

It is great to know that 79 year-old Valli is still active, with no signs of retiring anytime soon.