The Jersey Boys Biggest Jersey Hits: The Frankie Valli/4 Seasons Jersey Top 10
This weekend, it’s a “Jersey Boys weekend” on New Jersey 101.5, as we celebrate the opening of the “Jersey Boys” movie directed by Clint Eastwood. But how do the 4 Seasons & Valli Group AND solo hits rank, according to the original weekly local surveys? Let’s find out! Remember, this isn’t an indication of how popular these songs are NOW, it’s how they ranked THEN, when each first came out. Listen all weekend to New Jersey 101.5 as we play these great hits! Which one of these is YOUR favorite from the Jersey Boys?amazon.com
“Dawn (Go Away)” by The 4 Seasons
(1964) The group left Vee-Jay Records in a contract dispute, offered this song to Atlantic Records, got rejected (!??!), & signed with Phillips Records. Bad move, Atlantic: this was a smash, kept out of the top spot only by the Fab 4 at the height of Beatlemania. The single version, with the slower “pretty as midsummer’s morn” start, wasn’t available on any album until an 80s hit collection. The original album version was an alternate take without the slow intro.
“My Eyes Adored You” by Frankie Valli
(!975) Bob Crewe (“Music To Watch Girls By”) & Kenny Nolan (“I Like Dreamin”) co-wrote this huge comeback hit for Valli. It was originally titled “Blue Eyes In Georgia”, & recorded by The 4 Seasons. That’s right, this is really a group recording. After their label MoWest (owned by Motown) refused to put it out, Valli bought the master himself for $4000 (a wise investment). After several other major labels rejected it, Private Stock Records put it out, but the owner of the label would only do so if it were a Frankie Valli solo song.
“Rag Doll” by The 4 Seasons
(1964) Written by the Two Bobs, Bob Crewe & Bob Gaudio, this was the only song in WABC’s history to jump from Pick-Hit Of The Week, to #1, IN ONE WEEK. An amazing achievement And it stayed at the top for six big weeks. The song was inspired by Gaudio’s encounter with a “dirty-faced girl” windshield squeegee washer in Manhattan. Having no small bills, he tipped her $20, & never forgot the astonishment on her face.
“December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)” by The 4 Seasons
(1976) Gaudio wrote this monster hit with his then-future wife Judy Parker. The song was originally about the repeal of Prohibition, titled “December 5, 1933″! The was the only big Seasons hit where Valli didn’t sing lead. It was done here by drummer Gerry Polci & bassist Don Ciccone (former leader of 60s band The Critters), with Valli contributing a bridge.
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli
(1967) An iconic song written by Crewe & Gaudio, used in literally huindreds of TV shows, movies & commercials. It was recorded in just three takes with the great engineer Phil Ramone. The record was literally on the air in New York before the participants left the studio that night!
“Let’s Hang On!” by The 4 Seasons
(1965) In my personal opinion, this record has perhaps the most exciting intro of any song in music history, starting out with that slow-building intro, than crashing into those fuzz guitars. I compare it to climbing to the top in a roller coaster, then slamming downhill! Instant air guitar. Written by Crewe, Sandy Linzer & Denny Randall, this was the last Seasons hit to feature bass singer/bassist Nick Massi. He was temporarily replaced by the group’s arranger Charlie Calello, then by Joe Long.
“Sherry” by The 4 Seasons
(1962) Written by Gaudio, produced by Crewe. Some songs take a long time to craft (“Good Vibrations”, anyone?), others, like “Sherry”, the first 4 Seasons hit, not so long. Took onlly15 minutes to make! But deciding on the actual name was a more drawn-out process. Gaudio said the first name was Jackie, in honor of then first lady Mrs. Kennedy, then Peri, then Teri, finally Sherry, which was the name of a daughter of Gaudio’s friend, the WMCA DJ Jack Spector.(“your main man Jake, bubby!”).
“Grease” by Frankie Valli
(1978) This always struck me as a strange title cut of a movie about the 50s, with many other 50s-style songs on the soundtrack. This frankly, while a great song, sounded like a late 70s pop song and it turns out the movie’s director agreed with that assessment. But this actually helped the song at radio & the sales of the soundtrack album. Written by Barry Gibb & recorded during the filming of “Sgt. Pepper”, this features not only Gibb’s backing vocals, but “Pepper” co-star Peter Frampton on guitar! It was Valli’s last solo hit, & a very big one.
“Big Girls Don’t Cry” by The 4 Seasons
(1962) Talk about a debut one-two punch! This shot to #1 while “Sherry” was still on the chart. Written by Crewe & Gaudio, the title line was apparently from a movie, but the two men have given different movies as the source. It’s either “Tennessee’s Partner” (with Ronald Reagan!), says Gaudio, or “Slightly Scarlet”, according to Crewe.
“Swearin’ To God” by Frankie Valli
(1975) I’m surprised, frankly, that this turns out to be the all-time biggest hit locally of Valli & the Seasons. It’s a GREAT disco song, which totally saturated the local airwaves in the steamy summer of 1975. While it peaked at #6 nationally, it spent two weeks at #1 right here. Having the (then-unknown) great Patti Austin as your main female backup vocalist certainly didn’t hurt the tune! Written by Bob Crewe & Denny Randell.