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Frankie Valli – Iconic Falsetto Voice of The Four Seasons

Frankie Valli

Full Name Francesco Stephen Castelluccio
Age 89
Birthday May 3, 1934
Birth Sign Taurus
Born Newark, New Jersey, United States
Relationship Married to Randy Clohessy
Height 5′ 5′′
Net Worth $75 million
Social

Frankie Valli is an iconic American singer and songwriter most famous for being the soaring, lead vocalist of the massively popular pop music band The Four Seasons. Valli‘s one-of-a-kind, powerful falsetto voice and extraordinary vocal range has rightfully earned him numerous awards and accolades over his decades-long career, including his well-deserved induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Early Life and Career Beginnings

Frankie Valli was born Francesco Stephen Castelluccio on May 3, 1934 in the First Ward of Newark, New Jersey to an Italian immigrant family. He was inspired to start singing at a very young age by his mother Maria, who used to sing arias and Neapolitan songs around their humble house.

Growing up in a tight-knit, working-class family during the Depression and WWII eras, a young Frankie started performing professionally on the gritty streets and clubs of Newark in his early teens. He adopted the stage name "Frankie Valley" (later shortened to Valli) as a teenager while trying to make a name for himself in the music scene.

Valli‘s very first television appearance was on the show Startime in 1953 singing with a group called The Variatones. Through the 1950s, he sang and played drums with various short-lived groups including The Variatones, The Four Lovers, and The Paramours, honing his skills on the way to later stardom.

The Four Seasons Era

After some membership changes, The Four Seasons solidified their iconic lineup in 1960 with Frankie Valli as lead singer, Tommy DeVito on lead guitar, Nick Massi on bass guitar and Bob Gaudio on keyboards.

With producer and co-writer Bob Crewe, The Four Seasons went on to become one of the biggest musical sensations of the 1960s. Their songs blended elements of doo-wop, pop and R&B seamlessly and were defined by Valli‘s tremendous vocal range, allowing him to effortlessly alternate between a beautiful tenor and a piercing, soaring falsetto.

Some of The Four Seasons‘ most beloved and enduring #1 hits from their incredible run include:

  • "Sherry" (1962) – Their breakout single and first million seller. Valli‘s signature falsetto hooks on the chorus drove the song‘s success. I can still remember hearing it on the radio for the first time – it was so catchy!
  • "Big Girls Don‘t Cry" (1962) – Valli‘s yearning, emotional falsetto crooning made this ballad an instant classic. A song perfectly capturing youthful romance.
  • "Walk Like a Man" (1963) – A slightly edgier song that showcased the group‘s versatility. Valli nailing both lower and higher registers.
  • "Rag Doll" (1964) – A folk-pop ode to a girl living in hardship. Valli‘s smooth, tender vocals conveyed the sentiment beautifully.
  • "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" (1975) – A nostalgic retrospective single with Valli‘s velvety vocals bringing it to #1 even post-heyday.

The Four Seasons were the American group that could challenge the British Invasion bands like The Beatles for dominance on pop radio in the 60s. Incredibly, they racked up an astounding 20 Top 40 hits just between 1962-1968 thanks to their consistent brilliance. As the focal point with his angelic voice hitting thrilling falsetto highs, Frankie Valli became a cherished teen idol idolized by millions of fans.

Epic Solo Success

In addition to his work with The Four Seasons in the 1960s, Valli also started crafting solo recordings that allowed him to fully showcase his vocal talents. His breakthrough solo moment came in 1967 with the release of the now iconic romantic ballad "Can‘t Take My Eyes Off You". Valli‘s vocal performance, soaring up to spine-tingling, flawless falsetto notes on the chorus, instantly made it a timeless classic. It was his first big hit independent of The Four Seasons.

"Can‘t Take My Eyes Off You" has been covered by over 200 artists in the decades since, and appeared in numerous major films. But nothing can compare to the magic of Valli‘s original. I get chills every time I hear him hit "You‘re just too good to be true…" in the verse before soaring into the stratosphere on the chorus. What a talent!

Valli followed up with more solo Top 40 hits on the pop and adult contemporary charts through the 1970s, like the sweetly crooned "My Eyes Adored You" (1974). He also continued touring and recording new material with a reformed lineup of The Four Seasons.

Jersey Boys and Continued Success

The story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons finally made it to the Broadway stage in 2005 with the debut of the smash hit jukebox musical Jersey Boys. The multi-Tony winning show featured all of the group‘s huge hits and dramatized their rags-to-riches rise to fame, breakup, and struggles. Jersey Boys brought renewed mainstream attention to The Four Seasons‘ timeless catalog of music for a new generation of listeners.

Valli himself hasn‘t slowed down either, continuing to regularly perform sold-out live concerts with his legendary falsetto voice still intact at over 80 years young. He clearly still has the passion and vocal chops of a man half his age.

Some key achievements and honors for this music legend over his illustrious 6-decade career include:

  • Over 100 million records sold worldwide
  • Inducted into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (1990)
  • Grammy Hall of Fame Award for "Can‘t Take My Eyes Off You" (1998)
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame Star (2016)
  • Ranked by Rolling Stone as #77 of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time

Lasting Legacy

Frankie Valli, alongside his group The Four Seasons, left an indelible mark on American pop music that persists to this day. His youthful, one-of-a-kind falsetto voice provided an unmistakable trademark across numerous gold and platinum hits in the 60s and 70s. Valli adapted it masterfully for both exuberant pop perfection and vulnerable, emotionally deep balladry.

As a fan from the early days, it has been amazing to watch the continued legacy and influence of Frankie Valli over his lifetime. His inimitable style can still be heard anytime a rock or pop vocalist tries to emulate his soaring falsetto magic. Decades later, the songs of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons remain beloved jewels of the early rock and roll era. Valli‘s talent and voice will never go out of style.