Frankie Valli has been a smash for decades and looking back wouldn’t change a thing
Apparently F. Scott Fitzgerald wasn’t quite right when he wrote that there are no second acts. Frankie Valli, of Four Seasons fame, has proven the legendary writer to be incorrect.
Valli, who will perform Friday through Sunday (April 2-4) at the Borgata in Atlantic City, reached legendary status as the voice behind the Four Seasons, which were staples on the pop chart during the 1960s. The charismatic Valli enjoyed solo success during the ’70s.
“We did pretty well,” Valli tells Atlantic City Weekly. “You can’t argue with the numbers.”
The numbers are staggering. Valli and the Four Seasons rolled up 29 Top 40 Hits. Valli scored an additional 10 tunes which charted.
“Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Rag Doll,” and “December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)”) each reached the top of the charts. Valli went No. 1 with “My Eyes Adored You” and “Grease.”
“I think I have plenty to be proud of,” Valli says. “I can never complain about my career as a singer.”
Watch a classic Four Seasons clip:
And then there is Valli’s turn as an actor. Valli, who has been an on-and-off thespian for years, hit paydirt as an actor with The Sopranos. Valli played mobster Rusty Millio in the acclaimed HBO series.
“It was great to get a lot of notice the second time around,” Valli says. “It was great to act in something that was as great as The Sopranos. It was fun learning lines and executing them with such great talent. It was a wonderful opportunity. You got a lot of exposure courtesy of The Sopranos. It was great being part of a show that people will talk about forever.”
The same could be said about Valli, 75, and the Four Seasons’ tunes, which are timeless, courtesy of Valli’s powerful falsetto, well-written compositions and top-notch performances.
“It’s incredible when you look back to it,” Valli says. “We enjoyed it and appreciated every minute of it. We knew we were really fortunate to have such a string of hits. The ones that hit the top of the charts were great, but I might be most proud of the fact that 65 of our records charted. It was unbelievable success. We had uncommon staying power.”
Perhaps most remarkable was that even the British Invasion, which steamrolled many American acts, couldn’t knock the Four Seasons out of the public eye.
“That’s something that we were proud of,” Valli adds. “The Beatles and the Rolling Stones knocked a lot of groups and singers into oblivion. Somehow we kept it going.”
The Four Seasons benefitted from intricate harmonies, but what differentiated the group from other acts was Valli’s shrill falsetto, which was either loved or hated.
“I always had a very wide range,” Valli says. “I was never trained or educated. I just sang. I’ve always had this incredible gift. It was early on that I realized that I had something special.”
Valli’s singing career started in 1953. By the late ’50s, the Four Seasons were producing moralistic, romantic songs. By the late ’60s, the band’s style was out of vogue. However, the group came back during the next decade with the nostalgic smash “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night).”
“Never write anybody off,” Valli says. “I think we surprised a lot of people being able to come back with that song. We weren’t done.”
Valli and the Four Seasons aren’t done these days either. Over the last generation, the group has been touring behind the familiar hits. “We’ve worked very hard,” Valli says. “I couldn’t be prouder of all that we or I have done. I wouldn’t change a thing even if I could.”
Ditto for his run on The Sopranos.
“No regrets on that one,” Valli says. “It was great to get that kind of notice again and be part of such a great show.”
Valli was a natural for The Sopranos, since much of the action on the show was based in North and Central New Jersey. Valli, who grew up in Newark, is very familiar with the Garden State.
“The show covered the ground I came of age with,” Valli says. “I know New Jersey well. That was what I knew when I was a kid and I’ve played so many places in New Jersey, including Atlantic City for so many years. It’s always good to go back to Atlantic City. I think people from all over New Jersey go to Atlantic City when I come in to town and they are always so enthusiastic. It’s very gratifying performing there. They love their Jersey boys there.”
Speaking of which, Jersey Boys is the long-running Broadway musical based on the Four Seasons. “That’s something that’s very gratifying to me [as well],” Valli says. “We had the idea for the musical for a long time. We thought that there was a story there about the four of us. We all came from poor backgrounds in New Jersey. We were right.
“There is a real human-interest side to the story with us and then there are the songs. The songs have worked on Broadway and they work when I sing them as well.”
Where: The Borgata Music Box, A.C.
When: Fri-Sun., April 2-4 (9pm Fri. & Sat., 7pm Sun.)
How Much: $65
It’s difficult to believe, but Frankie Valli will turn 80 next year. There has always been something inherently youthful about Valli, who had so much success with the Four Seasons during the 1960s and ’70s.
Some people wait for what seems like forever hoping for their life to come full circle. John Menzano made the trip in just 25 years. Menzano will be back on an Atlantic City stage this weekend. Only instead of standing next to an equally anonymous musician on a casino lounge stage, which he did for about three years, he’ll be standing next to a music legend. When Frankie Valli opens a three-night gig Friday (Nov. 19) in the Music Box at Borgata, Menzano will be playing his bass just a few feet away. “Whenever Frankie walks on stage and I hear the crowd roar, I get goose bumps,” says Menzano, who grew up in South Philadelphia before moving across the river to southern...
"We’re like four brothers, and it’s really exciting to see how we deal with those dynamics and the challenges that everyday life brings. And then to carry that onto the stage has really become a large part of our style, a sort of Rat Pack way we deal with one another.”