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Valli, Frankie (3 May 1934–Present)

He is a singer born Francis Stephen Castelluccio in Newark, New Jersey into a family where his father was a barber.

When he was seven years old he was taken to see Frank Sinatra by his mother and this would prove to be the inspiration he needed to start singing, but after he finished his education he followed in his father’s footsteps and worked as a barber until his singing could provide him with enough income.

In 1951 he became a member of the Variety Trio and remained with them until they disbanded in 1952.  He and the trio member Tommy DeVito then became members of The Strand’s house band in New Brunswick and this time he not only sang, but played the bass too.

In 1953 he changed his name to Frankie Valley, which he would later change to Valli, in honour of his friend Jean Valley who was also a singer and using this name he recorded his first single “My Mother’s Eyes” on the Corona record label.   He and Tommy DeVito also co-founded The Variations with three other musicians and they were given an audition for RCA Victor in 1956 after they had been noticed when they were trying out as backing singers for another artist.

After joining RCA Victor they underwent a name change to The Four Lovers and cut enough songs to fill an album with their single release “You’re the Apple of My Eye” reaching minor hit status in 1956.  They underwent several line-up changes and then in 1960 they underwent a further name change to The 4 Seasons.  This was when Frankie would get his first real taste of success, starting with their recording “Sherry” which topped the charts in 1962.  Frankie and the group went on to have many more hits such as “Rag Doll”, “Walk Like A Man”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Let’s Hang On” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and he was also the first solo artist to sing “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)” which was later a huge hit for The Walker Brothers.

Continuing as a solo artist as well as group member he had solo success with his version of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”.  He released his debut album which was a mix of new material and existing singles and he soon released the chart hit “I Make A Fool Of Myself” in 1967.  His follow-up album Timeless gave him a further chart hit with “To Give (The Reason I Live)”   His work with The 4 Seasons continued throughout this period and at the end of the 1960s Half & Half was released which produced the hit “The Girl I’ll Never Know (Angels Never Fly This Low)”.

The start of the 1970s seemed quieter on the chart hit side of things for Frankie but in 1975 he came back in style with his solo No. 1 “My Eyes Adored You” followed by the No. 6 “Swearing to God” and The 4 Seasons’ No. 1 “December 1963 (Oh What a Night)”, No. 3 “She Loves You”, the No. 11 “Our Day Will Come” and the No. 38 “Silver Star”.  The following year he released the solo singles “Fallen Angel”, “We’re All Alone” and “Boomerang” and recorded a version of “A Day in the Life” for the music documentary All This and World War II and staying with music for the screen, he sang the theme song for Grease in 1978 which became a massive hit.  He followed that with the less successful singles “Save Me, Save Me” and “Fancy Dancer”.  It was during the last few years of the 1970s that he was diagnosed with the hearing disorder otosclerosis which had such an effect on him that he had to “sing from memory” but thankfully the condition was rectified by 1980 following a surgical procedure.

His output during the 1980s seemed quieter although The 4 Seasons did release a few singles such as “Heaven Must Have Sent You (Here in the Night)”, “Streetfighter”, “Book of Love” and “Moonlight Memories” and then in 1992 the new album Hope and Glory was issued by The Four Seasons.  Going into the new millennium Frankie released a new solo album in 2007 called Romancing the 60s where he recorded some of his favourite songs from that decade.   In 2010 he made an appearance on Juice Newton’s album Duets: Friends and Memories where they sang “The Biggest Part of Me”.

Recognised for his contribution to music by the National Italian American Foundation, he has been awarded their Lifetime Achievement Award and a scholarship was presented to an Italian American music student in his name.  He has also been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He has been seen as an actor in several productions such as the successful TV show The Sopranos and thanks to the hugely successful Broadway music production Jersey Boys, the music of Frankie Valli and The 4 Seasons lives on with some of Frankie’s mammoth total of 71 hit songs as a solo artist or group member being heard time and time again by a new younger audience and Frankie continues to tour nationally.