Frankie Valli: Italian of the Week

Francesco Stephen Castelluccio, better known as Frankie Valli, was born on May 3, 1934, in Newark, New Jersey. He was the youngest of three children born to barber and model train designer Anthony Castelluccio and homemaker Mary Rinaldi. When he was seven his mother took him into New York City to see up-and-coming artist Frank Sinatra. The show changed Frankie’s life: “I saw Sinatra coming out on stage and the way he was lit up, it was like he had an aura around him. I decided then and there that’s what I was going to do—be a successful singer.”

four-seasonsWhen he was just 19, Frankie signed his first record contract. He quickly became known as having the “voice of an angel.” In the late 1950s, Frankie and his band – the Four Lovers – saw moderate success. The group had a few minor hits and even appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. In 1959, Frankie’s friend and future actor Joe Pesci introduced the band to songwriter Bob Gaudio. This addition changed the course of the band’s success. With Bob writing the songs, the band changed its name to the Four Seasons, released “Sherry,” and became an overnight sensation.

Frankie decided to go solo in 1965 while staying with the Four Seasons. Bob wrote his solo songs and made sure they didn’t rely on Frankie’s falsetto. His first major solo hit came in 1967 with the classic “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” Things slowed down for the musician in the early 1970s, but between 1975 & 1979 he and his band had a slew of hits: “My Eyes Adored You,” “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night),” and “Grease.”

franke-valli-Dean EgnaterOver his career, Frankie has had over 70 hits chart on Billboard’s Top 100 and has sold well over 100 million records. In 1990, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. His life and music were reintroduced to a whole new generation when he and Bob teamed up again in the mid-2000s – this time to write the musical Jersey Boys, which dramatized Frankie’s life with and without the Four Seasons. It opened on Broadway November 6, 2005, and became an instant hit. The jukebox musical won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Clint Eastwood later adapted the story into a film of the same name. Today Frankie continues to tour, record music, and release new albums.

Sources: Frankie Valli Official Website, ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAMEAllMusic, People

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