Jersey Boys, the film version of the hit Broadway show, based on the 1960s mega band Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, hits theaters today.
If you listened to the radio during the 1960s you sang along to catchy, chart topping hits by the Four Seasons, featuring the distinct falsetto voice of front man, Frankie Valli.
If you know music trivia, you know a little something about them. If you watch movies, documentaries or TV, if you play video games, or listen to the radio, then you’ve heard their music.
That’s how prolific and popular they were, and how enduring their music still is.
After a shaky start in the 1950s, multiple record labels signing and dropping them, name changes and band member replacements, Frankie Valli and Bob Guido made history in the tumultuous decade of the ’60s, rivaled only by the Beach Boys, until the British invasion.
In sync with the movie release, here are the FFFs (Five Fun Facts) on Jersey Boys.
1. The Jersey boys were older than other recording artists of the time. Record companies thought no teenagers would listen to a band in their thirties. Valli was 28 when “Sherry” became a hit , and the record company thought it would be better if he were considered 25, so his age was changed. But his real age and birth date (1934) were on the back of an album Valli made as part of The Four Lovers, a group he was in before The Four Seasons. Then, when The Four Seasons were arrested in Columbus, Ohio, for not paying for the hotel rooms the prior year, Valli’s mug shot became public, and based on his driver’s license and police record, it became obvious that he was born in 1934.
2. John Lloyd Young stars as Frankie Valli in the movie, after having portrayed Valli on Broadway over 1,000 times. Interestingly he was not the first choice to portray Valli. But when the original actor quit, Young was called back. In 2006 Young won a Tony Award for his performance. Naturally, Clint Eastwood sought him for the lead in his film version.
3. One of the band’s most popular songs was featured in the teen flick, “Ten Things I Hate About You,” starring Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew,” 10 Things has Ledger trying to win the affections of obstinate Julie Stiles. In one scene he serenades her, singing the Four Seasons’ hit “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” while snaking through bleachers on a high school campus. For that song and dance number, Ledger was nominated for Best Musical Performance.
4. Jersey Boys features the Italian-American neighborhoods in Union County, New Jersey where there was a strong mob presence during the lives of Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. The boys had failed an audition at a lounge in a bowling alley. Despite yet another failure, they were not deterred and renamed their band the Four Seasons after the bowling alley.
5. Bob Gaudio, (played in the movie by Erich Bergen) primary songwriter for the Four Seasons, is the composer of the song “Short Shorts” which was originally a hit for the band Royal Teens in the 1950s. Thirty years later, his song became the jingle for memorable TV commercials advertising Nair hair removal lotion, reviving the lyrics and embedding them into pop culture. The ad can be found on YouTube now, 57 years after it climbed the charts.
by T.M. Burroughs
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