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An Interview with Frankie Valli

Short Description of An Interview with Frankie Valli

By Stacey Morris



ALBANY, N.Y. - Oh, what a biography! Even if it were put to celluloid, the life and times of Frankie Valli might seem a little too Cinderella-esque to be fully believed. But this past June, that's exactly what happened when the feature film version of "Jersey Boys" hit the big screen. The silver screen version of the Tony-award winning play by the same name recounts the rise and continued rise of The Four Seasons front man and his three band mates from working-class obscurity to worldwide stardom.


And whether you saw the stage and screen version of “Jersey Boys” or not, Capital District residents now have their moment with the legendary singer in the flesh as Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons take to the Palace Theatre's stage for an evening of music and reminiscing on Thursday, October 9.


Valli's 50-plus years in the music business have yielded 71 hits (40 of which were in the top 40), movie sound tracks, Grammy awards, a 1990 Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame induction, nearly two dozen albums, a heavy-hitting acting gig on "The Soprano's," and a touring schedule that hasn't been interrupted since beginning in 1962.


Musically, he's influenced more than one generation. Musicians ranging from Billy Joel to Brian Wilson have been open about their emulation of Valli's sound and style. Heady stuff for a kid from the projects of Newark. Valli took a moment out of his performance grind to talk to us about his childhood in Newark, and why touring is a habit he just won't quit.


SM: You were great on "The Sopranos" as gangster Rusty Millio. Are there any future acting projects coming up?


FV: "Acting is something I've been seriously pursuing, but my touring schedule really gets in the way. The people at "The Sopranos" were very helpful in working around my schedule, but it still got in the way. I either had to stop touring or get killed...and as we all know, I got killed."


SM: You've never really stopped touring since 1962. Doesn't the constant travel wear on you?


FV: "I'm kind of a nomad, I've done this my whole life. When I have two or three weeks of not doing anything, I get antsy."



SM: You've played in our region many times over the years. Did you vacation in Lake George as a kid, the way so many people from Jersey do?


FV: "I lived in the projects as a youngster so there weren't a whole lot of vacations. My mom worked so I was shipped off to my grandmother's in Pennsylvania during the summer."


SM: Speaking of Newark, congratulations on the city of Newark honoring you with the official Frankie Valli Day in 1987. Newark must be indebted to you.


FV: "I'm indebted to Newark, and I mean that with all my heart. Newark was the best school for learning; I came up on the street and learned a lot. There were a lot of wonderful things I was exposed to, like the Branford Palace and Adams Theatre. I caught the tail end of the Big Band era, all the great singers and groups. I also saw all great jazz concerts at The Mosque Theater (now The Newark Symphony Hall)."


SM: So where you grew up had an influence on you musically?


FV: "I think New Jersey is misunderstood. The New York-New Jersey area has a lot to offer. New York is such an international city. The closest thing like it I can think of is London. My biggest thrill as a kid was going to Birdland in Manhattan and sitting in the bleachers for a buck and seeing the greatest jazz musicians who ever lived. I wouldn't want to have grown up anyplace else in the world."


SM: "Jersey Boys" has been running for nearly 10 years. Do you ever sneak into a performance now and then? It must be surreal to see your life on stage like that.


FV: "I do sometimes sneak in and make sure everyone's doing what they're supposed to be doing. The show is just a piece of my life, that's how I see it. There's no way in the world that anyone could do a show or movie and cover an entire life in two hours. You try to take the most important things. And don't forget Jersey Boys is about four guys."


SM: You have such a massive body of work from the Four Seasons era, your solo career, and most recent album, "Romancing The '60s.' Do you sing something from every era?


FV: "We do it all. The most recent album is just packed with other people's hits I've always loved, with our treatment on them. Everything from ballads like "Let It Be Me" and "Then You Can Tell Me Good-bye" to groovin' songs by the Temptations and Rascals. Whenever we do "My Girl," it brings the house down."


SM: Thanks to "Jersey Boys," which opened nearly a decade ago, you have a whole new generation appreciating the music of the Four Seasons. Do they come to your shows?


FV: "We do have a broader audience now. A lot of younger people who weren't hip to what we were doing in the '60s, some of them weren't even born. It's very exciting to see people of all ages in the audience. It's also great to have people come to the shows who have been following us our whole career and they're excited to see us again. What better way to make a living than to do something you love?"

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Address: Palace Albany

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