|Birth name||Francesco Stephen Castelluccio|
|Also known as||Frankie Valley|
|Born||May 3, 1934|
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
|Member of||The Four Seasons|
|Formerly of||The Four Lovers|
(m. 1957; div. 1971)
(m. 1974; div. 1982)
(m. 1984; div. 2004)
Francesco Stephen Castelluccio (born May 3, 1934), better known by his stage name Frankie Valli, is an American singer, known as the frontman of the Four Seasons beginning in 1960. He is known for his unusually powerful lead falsetto voice.
Valli scored 29 top 40 hits with the Four Seasons, one top 40 hit under the Four Seasons alias the Wonder Who?, and nine top 40 hits as a solo artist. As a member of the Four Seasons, Valli's number-one hits include "Sherry" (1962), "Big Girls Don't Cry" (1962), "Walk Like a Man" (1963), "Rag Doll" (1964) and "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" (1975). Valli's recording of the song "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" reached number two in 1967. As a solo artist, Valli scored number-one hits with the songs "My Eyes Adored You" (1974) and "Grease" (1978).
Valli was born Francesco Stephen Castelluccio on May 3, 1934 to an Italian family in the First Ward of Newark, New Jersey; he was the eldest of three sons. His father, Anthony Castelluccio, was a barber and display designer for Lionel model trains; his mother, Mary Rinaldi, was a homemaker and beer company employee. He was inspired to take up a singing career at age seven after his mother took him to see Frank Sinatra at the Paramount Theater in New York City. One of his early favorite singers was "Texas" Jean Valli, from whom he took his stage name. He worked as a barber until he could support himself with music.
Valli's birth year has been called into question. He never addressed the issue himself until a 2007 posting at the Official Frankie Valli Site, sponsored by his record label Universal Records. Much of his previous official publicity used 1937 as his birth year. Other sources gave his year of birth as 1934, such as the Bear Family Records release The Four Lovers (BCD 15424) and a 1965 mug shot, available through The Smoking Gun.
Valli began his singing career in the early 1950s with the Variety Trio (Nickie DeVito, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Macioci). His desire to sing in public was initially granted when the group offered him a guest spot when they performed. In late 1952, the Variety Trio disbanded and Valli and Tommy DeVito became part of the house band at The Strand in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Valli played bass and sang.
Valli recorded his first single, "My Mother's Eyes", in 1953, a cover of the 1929 George Jessel song from Lucky Boy. He recorded it as "Frankie Valley", a variation on a name he adopted from "Texas" Jean Valli, a female hillbilly singer. Geoff Herbert explains, "Frankie said in 2010 that Jean took him to meet music publishers Paul and Dave Kapp, telling them he was her brother. As a result, his first single was listed under 'Frankie Valley', and the name stuck—though he eventually changed it to the same spelling" that Texas Jean used.
Around this time, Valli and Tommy DeVito left the house band at The Strand and formed The Variatones with Hank Majewski, Frank Cottone, and Billy Thompson. In 1956, the group impressed New York recording agent Peter Paul, and he got them an audition at RCA Victor a week later.
The group changed its name to the Four Lovers and recorded several singles and an album's worth of tracks. They had a minor hit with "You're the Apple of My Eye" in 1956. Nickie DeVito and Hank Majewski left in 1958 to be replaced by Nick Macioci (now Nick Massi) and Hugh Garrity. Massi was in and out of the group, and Charles Calello occasionally joined on accordion. The group continued to perform until 1959, when Bob Gaudio became a member. It changed its name to "The Four Seasons" in 1960 after a bowling alley in Union, New Jersey, in whose cocktail lounge it had auditioned.
As the lead singer of the Four Seasons, Valli had a string of hits, beginning with the number-one hit "Sherry" in 1962 and continuing through "Who Loves You" in 1975, after which Valli ceded most lead vocals to Gerry Polci.
During the 1960s, Gaudio and his songwriting partner Bob Crewe worked with Valli to craft solo recordings, with varying degrees of success. It was rare at the time for a major recording artist to perform solo in opposition to his own group; Buddy Holly and the Crickets were an exception. Valli's debut solo album was a collection of single releases and a few new recordings.
"You're Ready Now", a Valli solo recording from 1966, became part of the Northern soul scene and reached number eleven on the UK Singles Chart in December 1970. "The Night" originally released in 1970 also became a huge Northern soul hit and as a result it reached number seven on the UK Singles Chart in 1975.
In 1975, his single "My Eyes Adored You" hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached number 5 in the UK chart. In the same year, he also had a number six Billboard hit with the disco-laden "Swearin' to God" reaching number 31 in the UK chart, while further UK chart success came with "Fallen Angel", written by Guy Fletcher and Doug Flett. Valli was in the UK charts, reaching number 11, with this at the same time as the Four Seasons enjoyed a UK hit with "Silver Star" on which Valli did not appear as lead.
In 1978, he sang the theme song for the film version of the stage play Grease, a song by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, which became a number one hit. He had two further chart successes over the next year: "Save Me, Save Me" in November 1978, which entered the Billboard Easy Listening chart, and "Fancy Dancer" in January 1979, which entered the pop charts.
Valli began suffering from otosclerosis in 1967, forcing him to "sing from memory" in the latter part of the 1970s. Surgery performed by Los Angeles ear specialist Victor Goodhill restored most of his hearing by 1980.
In 2005, the musical Jersey Boys opened on Broadway. Besides performances of many of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons hit recordings, it has a biographical narrative, told from four separate points of view by each member of the Four Seasons (DeVito, Valli, Massi and Gaudio). John Lloyd Young portrayed Valli in the original production, while West End's production Ryan Molloy is the "longest-serving Frankie Valli". The musical dramatizes several real-life incidents from Valli's life, including his estrangement from daughter Francine, who died in 1980. The show has been widely acclaimed, financially successful, and was nominated for eight Tony Awards, winning four, notably Best Musical, Actor, and Supporting Actor. It has touring companies around the world, as well as a version at Paris Las Vegas, and was adapted into a 2014 film of the same name directed by Clint Eastwood, with Young again appearing as Valli; Valli was less enthusiastic about the film, believing that some parts were miscast and that Eastwood was a poor fit for the material.
In October 2007, Valli released Romancing the '60s, an album containing covers of his favorite songs from the 1960s, two of which—"Sunny" and "Any Day Now"—he had previously recorded. It was Valli's first solo album in nearly 27 years since 1980's Heaven Above Me.
From March 2016 to January 2017, "Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons" were touring the US, scheduled to play small-to-mid-size venues such as the Silver Legacy Casino in Reno, Nevada, the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona and the County Fair in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. In October 2016, Valli released his first solo album in nine years, 'Tis the Seasons, which features some of his favorite Christmas songs.
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons continued touring in 2018 and 2019, with a new lineup after his lineup since 2003 spun off as its own act, The Modern Gentlemen. In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic canceled all touring plans. Touring resumed in the summer of 2021 with dates scheduled through October 2024; in October 2023, Valli indicated that it would be his farewell tour and that The Four Seasons would effectively end its 64-year run with his retirement. Valli did not rule out future performances after the tour ends but noted that the nature of touring, and a move from longer residencies to frequent one-night stops, was wearing on him, while the actual act of performing each night was not. In June 2021, Valli released his 12th studio album, his first in five years, Touch of Jazz, which features a collection of jazz cover songs.
Valli has appeared as an actor in Miami Vice (as Mafia boss Frank Doss), Full House, the 1998 TV movie Witness to the Mob (as Frank LoCascio of the Gambino crime family), The Sopranos (as mobster Rusty Millio), and the 2014 film And So It Goes.
Valli has been married four times. He married his first wife, Mary, who already had a two-year-old daughter named Celia, in his early twenties. They raised two daughters together, Antonia and Francine, and divorced after 13 years in 1971. He married MaryAnn Hannagan in 1974, and that marriage lasted eight years. He then married Randy Clohessy in 1984; they had three sons and separated in 2004. In 1980, his stepdaughter, Celia, was killed when she fell off a fire escape. Six months later, Francine, his youngest daughter from his marriage to Mary, died reportedly from a drug overdose. Antonia later briefly married Four Seasons drummer/vocalist Gerry Polci, and their daughter Olivia Polci, who also adopted the stage surname Valli, is a professional stage actress. She portrayed her grandmother Mary in a Jersey Boys production in 2019. Frankie married Jackie Jacobs on June 26, 2023, in Las Vegas. Valli and Jacobs reside in Encino, California.
One issue in Valli's third divorce went up on appeal to the Supreme Court of California: whether a life-insurance policy purchased in 2003 was community property. On May 15, 2014, the Court unanimously affirmed the trial court's ruling that the policy was community property (and not Randy's separate property), in an opinion signed by Associate Justice Joyce Kennard.
|Date of release||Title||Billboard peak||Label||Catalog number|
|June 1967||The 4 Seasons Present Frankie Valli Solo||34||Philips||200-247 (Mono) / 600-247 (Stereo)|
|February 1975||Closeup||51||Private Stock||PS 2000|
|September 1975||Inside You
(five new tracks plus four previously released tracks, remixed; "The Night" with the Four Seasons)
|November 1975||Our Day Will Come||107||Private Stock||PS 2006|
|September 1976||Valli||—||PS 2017|
|November 1977||Lady Put the Light Out||—||PS 7002|
|August 1978||Frankie Valli... Is the Word||160||Warner Bros/Curb||BS 3233|
|November 1980||Heaven Above Me||—||MCA/Curb||5134|
|October 2007||Romancing the '60s||167||Cherry Entertainment/Universal Motown||B0009908-02|
|October 2016||'Tis the Seasons||—||Rhino||R2556984|
|June 2021||A Touch of Jazz||—||Green Hill Music||B0942DW3VX|
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