The Four Seasons

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Springboro's Guy Pasvogel, published author, shares his thoughts

Yesterday I heard an old tune on the radio that was a Number One song in late 1962 sung by a new group on the scene. The song was “Sherry” and was sung by The Four Seasons, a new singing quartet out of New Jersey.

The lead singer, Frankie Valli, had a falsetto voice that was quite new and different. That song started a string of hits that lasted well into the early 70’s.

How did the group get their name? Were they referring to the four segments of the calendar year... spring, summer, fall and winter?

Or, were they referring to four seasons that would be added to a favorite Italian dish, such as pepper, salt, garlic, or oregano? After all, Frankie Valli’s real last name was Castelluccio, very Italian (I bet his Momma made a mean dish of spaghetti).  Try putting THAT name on a billboard! Thus, the stage name Frankie Valli was born.

A few years back I found the answer. My wife and I went to a regional touring company of the real life history of the group titled “Jersey Boys.” The stage musical told the story of The Four Season’s rise to fame, complete with all the songs they made famous. Here is their story.

Frankie Valli’s first single, “My Mother’s Eyes” was recorded in 1953 to little fanfare and minimal commercial success. He and guitarist Tommy DeVito then formed a group called The Four Lovers and performed locally in New Jersey with two other backups.

In the next eight years The Four Lovers recorded songs under various “stage names” such as “Frankie Valli”, “Frankie Valli and the Travelers”, “Frankie Valli and the Romans”, “The Village Voices” and “The Tropics.” They tried a total of 18 different names to hit paydirt on the charts to no avail.

Then, in 1959, Valli met Bob Gaudio, a 15 year old songwriter performing with a group called “The Royal Teens.” They were promoting a song written by Gaudio called “Short Shorts”, a minor hit in that year.

Valli persuaded Gaudio to join The Four Lovers along with the addition of Bob Crewe and Nick Massi to the group.

So how did The Four Lovers become The Four Seasons?

One day in 1960 after a failed audition at a local bowling alley in Union Township, Union County, New Jersey, the band looked up to the neon sign of the establishment. There, shining in the night came an epiphany of a new name for the group.

As Bob Gaudio put it, “We figured we’ll come out of this with something. So we took the name of the bowling alley.”

The name of the bowling alley? “Four Seasons.”

In 1990, the Four Seasons were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Frankie Valli is still performing with three younger backups. He and Bob Gaudio both own 50% of the Four Seasons residuals.

They are one of the most successful musical groups of all time, selling an estimated 100 million records worldwide.

Sounds like a winning recipe to “strike it rich” ... spare me, Wiser Guy. (It was probably a good thing the group was not from South Dayton. Somehow “The Poelkings” do not have the same star power as “The Four Seasons.”)

And now you know, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.

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