Frankie Valli opens up about returning to the road at 87, Nick Jonas, ‘Jersey Boys’
ASHWAUBENON – No one is looking forward to “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Sherry” at the Research Center on Friday evening more than the man who sings them.
The concert will be Return of Frankie Valli’s first performance on the road since the pandemic crippled the tourism industry last year and forced the 87-year-old legend to do something he’s not used to – sit on the sidelines.
It is also the first time that the lights of the Resch Center will go out on a live audience for a concert since February 2019.
“It will be good to get back to work,” Valli said over the phone. “Well, it’s been a year and a half. It’s the longest I’ve ever been without going on stage and singing.
To appreciate the significance of this statement, you have to remember that we are talking about a musical career that began in the early 1950s and is still going strong almost 70 years later.
Valli became a star as the lead singer of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons in 1962, scoring 40 Top 40 hits with the group, including “Working My Way Back to You”, “Walk Like a Man” and “December 1963. (Oh What one night). ” There have also been solo hits, such as the title track from the 1978 movie “Grease” and the No. 1 hit “My Eyes Adored You” in 1975.
Then in 2005 came the smash hit of “Jersey Boys”, the Broadway musical that tells the story of Valli and the Four Seasons. He introduced new generations to the songs of one of the best-selling bands of all time. It’s also one of the reasons the “original Jersey Boy” – born Francis Castelluccio in Newark, New Jersey – is still on tour and draws crowds.
Or at least it was until the pandemic stopped everything in March 2020 like a needle on a disc that suddenly stops spinning.
“You face it because you need it. There is not any other way. It gives you the opportunity to do a lot of soul searching, ”Valli said of the tour break. “… Sometimes, you know, we take things for granted. This sort of thing really gives everyone a chance to really think about everything they do.
Unable to do some of the things that are second nature to him, like walking into a studio and collaborating with others, including certain members of his own organization at times, he would often take notes for himself to prepare when things go. were starting to roll. again.
He released his first jazz album, a collection of American standards entitled “A Touch of Jazz”, June 25. He had worked there in pieces for the past two years on schedule, recording in Los Angeles and Phoenix with jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco and his trio.
“It’s something that I have always wanted to do, ever since I started in the music business, being a huge fan of jazz,” said Valli.
He calls jazz his “first love”. As a kid, he paid a dollar to sit in the non-drinker bleachers at New York jazz club Birdland and listen to big bands like Stan Kenton, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Tommy Dorsey. Little Jimmy Scott was one of his biggest influences. Some of the first vocal groups he listened to were jazz oriented, most notably the Four Freshmen and the Modernaires.
“I love all kinds of music. I’ve grown to love every musical entity you can think of. It’s either well done or it’s not done well, and that’s how I judge it. whether it’s R&B or gospel or progressive jazz or pop or country, “he said.” I think all music has great merit.
Keeping your voice in shape in your 80s is part of a wellness regimen that includes a mindful diet, no habit of drinking, drugs or smoking, and going to bed early when tired. No late nights if there is no reason for it, he said.
“And I sing a little bit every day. I like to sing in the shower. I think this is one of the best places. You can accomplish two things: cleanse your body and open up your vocal capacity and exercise your voice.
He’s willing to bet that many of the fans he sees in his audience, like those who will be waiting for him in the small theater setup at the Resch Center on Friday night in Ashwaubenon, are closet singers themselves. You don’t need a famous falsetto to sing in your own shower.
“I firmly believe that if you can speak, you can sing,” Valli said. “Even if you weren’t a singer, if you sang every day, you would find that your voice would improve. It’s like lifting weights or exercising.
Valli has dates reserved for the rest of the year and through 2022, including a pair of performances at the revered Royal Albert Hall in London in July 2022. He is the only member of the original Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons who is currently on tour. He’s grateful not only to be able to still do it, but also that there are people who still want to hear those classic hits of the 60s and 70s. The nostalgia for harmonies and the times has kept him in office.
It makes any talk about retirement foolish.
“I don’t think music has a limit or an age that you stop or start. It just happens, “Valli said.” You just do what you do and you do it the best you can, and luckily you create a kind of audience so that when you go out to work, people come to you. . “
The popularity of “Jersey Boys” – with its Broadway airing from 2005 to 2017, multiple Tony Awards, and a worldwide audience of over 26 million – has attracted new Valli fans in recent years.
“I think for a long time a lot of people didn’t really realize that it was us, the Four Seasons, who were recording all these different songs, and ‘Jersey Boys’ kind of put a spotlight on it,” did he declare. “The fact that ‘Jersey Boys’ was on Broadway for over 10 years was amazing. I never dreamed that a million years (it) would last that long.
The musical was made into a movie directed by Clint Eastwood in 2014 and went on to get a TV streaming adaptation with 28-year-old singer / actor Nick Jonas as Valli. The real Valli is delighted that another project is breathing new life into the heritage of the Four Seasons. Having one of the Jonas Brothers to represent you, well, that’s not too bad either.
“No, not shabby at all,” Valli said. “I’m a big, big fan, long before that happened, so it’s really exciting.”
Words like “legend” and “icon” frequently accompany Valli’s name, but the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee ignores them.
“I don’t read a lot of what they say, reviews or stuff. I’m mostly concerned with what the performance was and if it was delivered correctly and the audience liked what was going on, ”he said. “I never thought it was a hit record or if it wasn’t a hit record. I was recording and doing things that I wanted to do, that I liked. So that’s the great advantage that I had for myself, is that I had these opportunities to do it. “
When he steps onto the Resch Center stage on Friday night for that first comeback show after so long, he thinks it could be a little different.
“I’ll just be happier,” he said. “Just being able to go out and do it. The audience becomes like your family. “
He hopes that a same sense of joy will pervade fans eager to come back and get lost in the music again.
“We try to make it a fun show,” Valli said. “There is no message here except have a good time and leave all your troubles at home. “
If you are going to
Who: Frankie Valli and the four seasons
When: 8 p.m. Friday; the doors open at 7 p.m.
Or: Resch Center Theater, Ashwaubenon
Tickets: $ 33.75, $ 54.75, $ 86.50, $ 135 at the Resch box office, ticketstaronline.com and 800-895-0071