comscore Frankie Valli’s songs have had a lasting cultural impact | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Frankie Valli’s songs have had a lasting cultural impact

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    “I love what I do. It’s truly not work when you are living your passion,” says Frankie Valli on singing in concert.

When the Four Seasons hit American radio stations with “Sherry” in the summer of 1962 America sat up, turned up the volume, and fell in love with the powerful high-falsetto of lead vocalist Frankie Valli.

Valli had a voice like one else on the pop charts — America went out and bought the record. “Sherry” topped out at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart; so did the Four Seasons’ next two pop chart singles, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like A Man.”

The Four Seasons were more than Valli’s powerful high falsetto. Behind Valli were the smooth harmonies of Bob Gaudio (tenor vocals/keyboards), Tommy DeVito (baritone vocals/guitar) and Nick Massi (bass vocals/bass). Behind the group were the songwriting talents of Gaudio and his writing partner, Bob Crewe, who co-wrote “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like A Man,” and the group’s producer for “Sherry” as well.

It was the start of a string of hits for the Four Seasons that continued throughout the 1960s and well into the mid-1970s.

The original Four Seasons were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. They became the subject of a hit Broadway musical with the premiere of “Jersey Boys” in 2005.

From the mid-1960s on Valli had a productive parallel career as a solo recording artist — “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “My Eyes Adored You” and “Grease” — and as a television and film actor. “Hawaii Five-0” fans know him as Leonard Cassano, the mysterious attorney in the fifth season episode, “Ka Hana Malu (Inside Job).”

Valli, 85, still tours routinely and makes his home in Encino, Calif. He brings his 2019 model of the Four Seasons to Honolulu this weekend for two shows in the Blaisdell Concert Hall.rtrt He took time out to answer questions via email about the group and its music.

QUESTION: After more than 50 years, what keeps these songs fresh for you?

ANSWER: I love what I do. It’s truly not work when you are living your passion. The audiences are always so happy and enjoy my shows — all ages! That’s what keeps it fresh. The audiences are always different.

Q: When you heard the final mix of “Sherry,” did you think to yourself, “This is a hit!”

A: We all knew that it was a great song and luckily we were proven right. It was a monster hit!

Q: What about “Big Girls Don’t Cry” — did you expect it to do as well as it did?

A: Those first hits came one right after the other. It took a while for it to sink in! But, we found the sound and what worked.

Q: Is there a song the Four Seasons recorded that you thought should have been a hit but wasn’t?

A: Honestly there are so many songs that I’ve recorded that I love — that I was sure would be a hit — and never took off. “Beggin’” (recorded in 1967) didn’t do anything until it was picked up by a British DJ years after it was released. “Fallen Angel,” which I recorded in 1976, was a huge hit overseas and never made much of an impact in the U.S. The good news is we released a box set of everything we’ve recorded a couple years ago, so the fans can find their own favorite ‘deep cuts.’”

Q: Back in the 1960s disk jockeys might decide to play the “B” side of a single instead of the “A” side that the record label was promoting — for instance, playing the Four Seasons’ recording of “That’s the Only Way” 1963 instead of “New Mexican Rose.” Should the record label have made “That’s the Only Way” the “A side” of the record?

A: Wow. That was a really long time ago. I have no idea what I was thinking at the time, but I do miss the days when each station had its own music director, and there were differences in what each station played. Now radio is all programmed by a handful of folks, so the regional flavor is all gone.

Q: I can only imagine how it would feel to watch someone play me in a Broadway musical, so please tell about me about the experience of watching “Jersey Boys” on Broadway.

A: It was surreal. And overwhelmingly emotional — I think not only for me but for the audiences.

Q: Something that has nothing to do with music, but I noticed that your father was a display designer for Lionel — and since I grew up with a Lionel train set, I have to ask. Were Lionel trains part of your boyhood too?

A: My dad was a great guy and taught me a lot, but he wasn’t making a lot of dough. I grew up in the projects. We didn’t have lots of money for things beyond the basics.

Q: Is there any chance you might do another episode on “Hawaii Five-0?”

A: It was definitely a great experience, and I love to act, so if they ask again I would seriously consider it.

Q: Do you have any favorite Hawaiian songs?

A: The “Hawaiian Wedding Song” is beautiful, and who doesn’t love “Tiny Bubbles?


>> Where: Blaisdell Concert Hall

>> When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

>> Cost: $59-$145

>> Info: 800-745-3000,

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