The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons

Synopsis of Pop Music

"Oh what a night,
Late December back in '63,
What a very special time for me,
As I remember what a night..."

The Four Seasons were one of the few American groups that avoided being washed out by the rising tide of the British Invasion. In fact, they achieved their greatest success during this period, racking up thirteen Top-10 hits with their smooth blend of doo-wop, rhythm and blues, and old-fashioned crooner-style pop. In the process, they created a timeless sound that continues to inspire musicians today.

The Four Seasons got their start in the 50’s as the Four Lovers when they scored a minor hit with the r&b song, “Apple Of My Eye.” A few years and name changes later, The Four Seasons added Bob Gaudio, a new member who wrote songs. They recorded his song “Sherry,” a shuffling doo-wop tune that made excellent use of lead vocalist Frankie Valli’s super-high falsetto. It quickly went to #1 on the pop charts for five weeks and also topped the r&b charts. The follow-up, “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” pulled off the same feat and topped both charts again.

1963 started with a bang for the Four Seasons when they had yet another #1 hit with “Walk Like A Man,” which made them the first group to score three consecutive #1 hits. They followed it with a wailing revival of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t that A Shame” and a calypso-influenced #3 hit, “Candy Girl.” The British Invasion began storming the American pop charts in 1964, but the Four Seasons held their ground and had their best year yet. They landed six songs in the Top-20, including the #3 “Dawn (Go Away)” and the #1 hit “Rag Doll.”

The Four Seasons began 1965 with the #12 hit “Bye Bye Baby.” They adapted their doo-wop sound to a driving Motown-style track and had a #3 smash with “Let’s Hang On.” They also had a novelty hit using the pseudonym The Wonder Who with a jokey cover of the Bob Dylan song “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” Under their own name, the group continued to hit big in 1966 with “Working My Way Back To You” and the classical-music-inspired “Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me).”

In 1967, the Four Seasons had hits with the pretty ballad “Tell It To The Rain,” as well as the driving, soul-styled “Beggin’” and “C’Mon Marianne.” Meanwhile, Frankie Valli found success as a solo artist with the Sinatra-like #2 hit, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” The Four Seasons successfully revived the Shirelles classic “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” in 1968 and released one of their most unusual albums in 1969 with Genuine Imitiation Life Gazette. The album, which was packaged with an elaborate fictional newspaper, explored relevant social themes and flirted with a psychedelic sound.

The Four Seasons continued to record and tour into the 1970’s, including a brief stop on the Motown label early in the decade. The original Four Seasons disbanded shortly after their Motown album, and Valli and Gaudio decided to concentrate on Valli’s solo career. They quickly found major success with the wistful #1 ballad “My Eyes Adored You” and the disco-influenced “Swearin’ To God.”

Valli and Gaudio formed a new version of the Four Seasons in 1975 and further explored the disco sound with “Who Loves You” and “December 1963 (Oh What A Night).” Both were successful, and the latter song became a #1 hit in both the U.S. and the U.K. Valli scored a solo #1 hit in 1978 with the theme song from the film Grease, which was penned by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees.

By this time, the Four Seasons had become a serious influence on many pop performers. Billy Joel singled them out as one of his big favorites in interviews, and artists as diverse as the Bay City Rollers, Barry Manilow and the Mary Jane Girls had hits with covers of Four Seasons classics. Meanwhile, the Four Seasons continued to tour and record in the 80’s. A notable 80’s single was their collaboration with the Beach Boys, appropriately called “East Meets West.”

The Four Seasons found new success with an old hit when a dance-remix version of “December 1963 (Oh What A Night)” went to #14 in 1994. This second run gave the song a total of 54 weeks on the pop chart and made it the longest-running hit single in pop music history. It was conclusive proof that the Four Seasons' classic harmony style will always be in vogue.

Artist Release History

1962 - Sherry & 11 Others
1962 - Four Seasons' Greetings
1963 - Big Girls Don't Cry and Twelve Others
1963 - Ain't That a Shame and 11 Others
1963 - Folk Nanny
1964 - Born to Wander
1964 - Dawn (Go Away) and 11 Other Great Songs
1964 - Rag Doll
1964 - The Beatles Vs. The Four Seasons
1965 - The 4 Seasons Entertain You
1965 - Girls, Girls, Girls - We Love Girls
1966 - Live on Stage
1966 - Working My Way Back to You
1966 - Lookin' Back
1966 - Christmas Album
1968 - Edizione D'oro
1968 - The Genuine Imitation Life
1969? - Four Seasons Sing
1969? - Peanuts
1970 - Half & Half
1972 - Chameleon
1975 - Who Loves You
1975 - Fallen Angel Private
1976 - Helicon
1981 - Reunited: Live with Frankie Valli
1982 - In Resonance
1985 - Streetfighter
1988 - Anthology
1990 - Live, Vol. 1
1990 - Live, Vol. 2
1992 - Hope & Glory
1993 - The Four Seasons Dance Album
1993 - Dance Album
1994 - Sherry/Big Girls Don't Cry
1995 - Greetings/Born to Wander
1995 - Sherry and Eleven Others/Big Girls Don't Cry...
1995 - Oh What a Night

Pop Sub Categories


Essential Music Albums

Anthology (Rhino)

Band Members

Frankie Valli lead vocals
Bob Gaudio vocals, organ
Nick Massi (1950's-65) vocals, bass
Tom DeVito vocals, guitar
Joe Long (1965-72) vocals, bass
John Paiva (1975) guitar
Lee Shapiro (1975) keyboards
Don Ciccone (1975) bass
Gerry Polci (1975) drums, vocals

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