Jerseybeat - The Four Seasons Story
The story of how an underachieving bunch of singers from the mean streets of New Jersey rose from several years in obscurity to international stardom.
The centrepiece of the tale is the extraordinary relationship between lead singer Frankie Valli and the writer of many of their classics, Bob Gaudio, which began in the late 1950s and continues to this day. Presented by Paul Sexton.
|01||20080227||Valli confides that as a young man he never wanted to be a pop singer.|
|02||20080305||20120701||Paul Sexton's profile of one of the greatest pop vocal groups in chart history picks up with their breakthrough hit Sherry sitting proudly at Number 1 on the Billboard US singles chart in 1962. The culmination of years of hard graft by Frankie Valli and his fellow musicians, it opened the door for an extraordinary run of hits in the Seasons' first golden era.|
Valli and Bob Gaudio, business and creative partners for 50 years, talk in detail about the establishment of the Seasons' sound, and how it led to three bullseyes in a row as Sherry was followed to the top of the American charts by the equally memorable Big Girls Don't Cry and Walk Like A Man, both co-written by Gaudio and another intrinsic contributor to their success, Bob Crewe.
Denny Randell explains how he and co-composer Sandy Linzer joined the creative team as writers of some more of the group's best-loved songs, such as Working My Way Back To You and Opus 17 (Don't You Worry 'Bout Me). Randell and Calello describe how Let's Hang On was created in the studio and how its fuzz guitar sound was a direct acknowledgement of the Rolling Stones' recent hit of the time, Satisfaction.
Valli explains why he was still living in the projects even after they'd hit the big time and was the last member of the group to buy a house and a car. And the inimitable singer also offers his take on why the Four Seasons were just about the only American group to withstand the British Invasion. "We stayed true to what we did," he says. "There's room, you know what I mean? That's why ice cream companies make so many flavours. There's something for everybody.".
The group's breakthrough hit was Sherry, which sat at No 1 on the Billboard US singles chart in 1962. The single opened the door for an extraordinary run of hits in the Seasons' first golden era. Valli and Gaudio talk in detail about the establishment of the Seasons' sound.
|03||20080312||20120708||Paul Sexton's profile of one of the greatest pop vocal groups in chart history picks up at the end of 1967, as dusk was falling on the Four Seasons' incredible run of American hits.|
The previous five years had brought four Number Ones among a total of 13 top ten classics, not to mention countless other widely-loved songs, some of which would become hits for others.
Paul Sexton explores the pressures that continued to pull the group apart, leading to the departure of another original member, Tommy DeVito, in 1971 (after Nick Massi left in 1965). DeVito had run up gambling debts that were bought out by the group in difficult circumstances. And, as both he and Frankie Valli confide, they did not talk again for many years.
But this episode also demonstrates that creative forces in the Four Seasons were still at work. In 1969, the group made the experimental album The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette, which unsettled those who wanted to keep them in their familiar pop vocal pigeonhole, but which has come to be regarded as an important transitional work.
Co-writer and producer Bob Gaudio also branched out by creating perhaps the greatest hidden gem in the entire catalogue of Frank Sinatra, 1970's Watertown album. He tells the story of that atmospheric record, and the time he invited Sinatra to his house for a swim - before remembering that he didn't have a pool.
Also featured are the songs that became belated UK hits via their club popularity and the Northern Soul circuit, Valli's You're Ready Now and the The Night, from their short stay at Motown. Valli discusses his massive solo success of the mid-1970s with My Eyes Adored You and Swearin' To God, which broke big even as he remained true to the re-emerging Four Seasons.
Arranger Charlie Calello, writer Denny Randell and 1970s Season Lee Shapiro all contribute to the programme, which culminates with the group riding the top ten once again with Who Loves You and December 1963 (Oh What A Night).
By the end of 1967, dusk was falling on the Four Seasons' incredible heyday of American hits, as pressures continued to pull the group apart. But the band also began to go creatively in new directions.
|04 LAST||20080319||20120715||Paul Sexton concludes his profile of one of the greatest pop vocal groups.|
The final instalment begins with the new line-up of the group charting around the world again in the mid-1970s, as they score another UK top three hit with Silver Star and release further high-class singles such as Down The Hall and Rhapsody.
Frankie Valli's star as a solo artist was also very much on the rise at this time, and he explains how a long-time mutual admiration led the Bee Gees to write the Grease theme specifically for him. Valli reveals how that massively successful film theme is still earning for him 30 years later, and there's a tribute from his longtime friend Dion Dimucci.
As the 80s progress, the Seasons' profile diminishes again, but admiration for their legacy was spearheaded by Billy Joel's best-selling tribute to their sound, Uptown Girl. In the 1990s, a remix of December 1963 (Oh What A Night) became an immense US hit, matching the original's 27-week run to establish the longest aggregate stay ever on the Billboard charts. Then in 2000, the song was a smash again in France in a dance version, Ces Soirées-La, just before the group's original bassist Nick Massi succumbed to cancer.
Valli and creative and business partner Bob Gaudio reflect on an enduring relationship which was built on a "Jersey handshake", and Frankie explains why he's still on the road performing. Actors, writers and Jersey Boys director Des McAnuff talk about bringing the group's story to life, and the original Seasons describe watching their lives on the Broadway stage. As Gaudio says: "It's like living your life over again every night with a 20-minute intermission.".
Paul picks up the story with the new line-up of the group, charting around the world in the mid-70s, as they score another UK top three hit with Silver Star.
Plus how a collaboration with the Bee Gees led the brothers writing the theme to Grease for Frankie Valli.