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Oh, what a life: Valli looks back

 Frankie Valli, of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons fame, is 78 now and has been belting iconic hits for decades.
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Date published: 10/2/2012


The Kansas City Star


Stop for a minute and think about the contrast between illusion and reality.

Where does one stop and the other begin?

That's what Frankie Valli found himself considering the first time he watched a run-through of "Jersey Boys," the mega-hit Broadway musical that depicts Valli's rise to fame in the 1960s with the band that would become famous as the Four Seasons.

"How would the word 'strange' sound to you?" Valli said. "It's like a reflection of yourself. You look in the mirror and all of a sudden the reflection you see in the mirror is doing you. And you're just standing there watching."

To call Valli an iconic figure in pop music might be an understatement. He and the Four Seasons scored 40 Top 40 hits, including eight singles that went to No. 1. Most of the songs were written by the group's co-founder Bob Gaudio. Today many of them --"Walk Like a Man," "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry"--remain instantly recognizable. What makes them so, aside from Gaudio's expert craftsmanship, are Valli's utterly unique falsetto vocals.

But Valli said he didn't realize he was doing anything special.

"The magic that may seem to be there was something that was normal and natural," he said from a tour stop in Denver. "I never studied singing with anybody. And I never thought that what I was doing was so incredibly unique. I thought anybody singing could do it. It took me a while to understand that. I had this wonderful gift, and I loved using it.

"I learned to sing by doing impressions, singing songs that I liked that the radio was playing. You liked the song and you wanted to sound like the person doing it. If you could imitate four or five people, if you really worked on it you could probably do 15 or 20. But as I said, I never gave it a second thought. I thought all singers could do that."

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