Iconic. That is the only way to describe Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The group, with their remarkably unique sound powered by Valli’s strong falsetto voice, has thrilled audiences for 57 years.
I have been one of those enthusiasts since I was nine years old. That is when their #1 song “Sherry” played on my small transistor radio…over and over and over. It was 1962 and I didn’t understand the concept of #1 on the charts, but I appreciated the song and the group’s many hit songs that followed.
Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons was the first concert I ever attended. It was 1973, at the Circle Star Theater in San Francisco. My boyfriend surprised me with tickets. I will never forget the sound, the choreographed movements, and the crowd cheering wildly. Although the fair concert was no surprise, I still experienced a thrill that was reminiscent of the 1973 performance.
Before the band appeared, a medley of images flashed on two screens flanking the Heineken Grandstand Stage at the San Diego County Fair. The display included photos of the band’s 1990 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Images from the Tony Award-winning musical “Jersey Boys,” and the 2014 Clint Eastwood film by the same name, also appeared. Both the musical and the film chronicle the rise of fame for Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
Then, in the midst of drifting smoke and flashes of red and blue lights, 83-year-old Frankie Valli took the stage, his strong falsetto voice bursting through the speakers. Valli, along with four talented backup singers (with classic choreographed motions), sang one song after another. In fact, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons sang enough familiar songs to fill over an hour of time on stage. What does that say about them? That they had a lot of hits!
Amid screams and a standing ovation, the group sang their last song of the night, “Let’s Hang On (To What We’ve Got),” which I believe was a message to me and the thousands of other fans present that night – telling us to hang on to our love and respect for Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
The road to rock and roll success for many of the sixties acts follow a pattern. First, the initial “wow” period when a group is going to make it, then does make it. Then, there may be a popularity wane, or the break-up of the group, or just a fading away. Sometimes after a lull, there is a resurgence. Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons just seem to keep going. After a string of hit songs in the sixties, beginning with “Sherry” in August of 1962, followed by “Big Girls Don’t Cry” later that year – the group went on to hit the number one spot several times.
Just when the world thought that there might be a lull in popularity – Frankie Valli went solo with a #1 song in 1975 – “My Eyes Adored You.” Then, in November of that same year, the group climbed to the #3 spot with “Who Loves You.”
Although, the backup singers have changed over the years – Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons are still a commanding presence. They not only command the stage, but command a price for their performances. At the San Diego County Fair, where many acts are free to the public, this group still had a “purchase-only” concert – in a venue that – according to the fair box office – seated around 8,000.
Frankie Valli is not one to bask in the glow of success – at 83 he sang like he is just getting going. His strong voice echoed throughout the venue, and the screams and cheers of his fans echoed back. This give and take, which has been going on for 57 years, isn’t likely so slow any time soon.