Despite what you may have heard, Frankie Valli isn’t ready to say goodbye.
“You know? Everybody is thinking that it is my last tour,” says the 89-year-old New Jersey native, who now calls Southern California home. “And I don’t know when my last tour is, personally. If I can continue to do this, as long as I’m not feeling ill, I’ll do it.”
Perhaps some of the confusion comes from this tour’s title – The Last Encores – which definitely sounds like something that would be used to mark a last hurrah. Yet, Valli says he’s not waving farewell to touring, but rather his intention is simply dial back some on the road work.
“After this year, we will slow down on the amount of things that we do,” he says. “Instead of 70 or 80 or 90 things a year, we will probably cut it down to like 30 or 35.”
Yet, why wait for future tours when you still see Valli on this one? The famed singer and his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group, the Four Seasons, are set to perform on Nov. 12 at the San Jose Civic.
The San Jose date is the chance to see a legendary performer whose recording career now stretches a mind-blowing 70-plus years, dating back to when the singer taped his first single — “My Mother’s Eyes” — under the name “Frankie Valley” in 1953.
“It’s been really great,” Valley says of a career that has spanned eight complaints. “I have no complaints.”
After making his solo debut, Valli’s would soon help form the Newark, New Jersey, R&B/rock act the Four Lovers, “which was basically the same personnel (as the Four Seasons) except for Bob Gaudio.”
Gaudio was busy at the time with his own band, the Royal Teens, which delivered the smash hit “Short Shorts” in 1958. Once Valli and Gaudio eventually met — and started collaborating together — it would prove to be a true game changer for both men.
“Bob and I got to know each other and we spent some time (together),” Valli says. “He played me songs that he had written and I was blown away. I said, ‘Why aren’t you recording these songs?’”
Together, the two men would help fashion some of the most memorable pop songs of the early ‘60s – including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man” and “Rag Doll” — all No. 1 hits for the Four Seasons that featured Valli on vocals and were written (or co-written) by Gaudio.
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The Four Seasons — whose story is the basis for the award-winning jukebox musical “Jersey Boys” — continued to score hits in the ‘70s, including the chart-topper “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night).” Valli also experienced sizable solo success with the No. 1 hits “My Eyes Adored You” and “Grease.” While the former stands as one of the greatest romantic songs of that decade, it would be the latter that really introduced the singer to a whole new generation of fans.
“I had a call from Barry Gibb and he said, ‘I wrote a song and it’s the title song to a movie called ‘Grease.’ I think it’s perfect for you,’” Valli remembers. “He sent it over and I couldn’t have agreed more. I loved it from the very moment I heard it.”
That last line probably describes a lot of fans’ reactions to hearing those signature Valli tunes for the first time. Now, decades later, those songs remain so special to longtime listeners — and Valli believes he knows the reason why.
“The songs had important placement in people’s lives — whether they used a song when they were getting married, a song like ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,’ or a breakup or a variety of different things,” he says.
Valli just keeps right on serving up those classics to eager ears, month after month, year after year. Trying to calculate just how many times he’s sung a track like, say, “Sherry” over the decades would be a tall task indeed.
How does Valli stay motivated to keep crooning these familiar favorites after all this time?
“I think it’s a motivation that is very closely connected to you,” he says. “It’s like, ‘How do you get motivated by watching your kids grow up?’”
The key, of course, is putting the audience first. Once a performer does that then the motivation to bring an old tune back to life yet once again should come naturally.
“You are not doing it for you,” Valli says. “You are doing it for them.”
Of course, time does take its toll on all earthly things. So, it’s fair to wonder how Valli’s famed falsetto is doing in 2023 — 70 years after releasing his first single.
“The voice is hanging in,” Valli says. “You have to work at it and do a lot of rehearsing — a lot of vocal exercises. It’s like body building and lifting weights. If you lay off it too long, it’s like starting out all over again.”
Bay Area fans will have the golden opportunity to hear that legendary voice one more time when Valli visits the San Jose Civic. And they might think twice before passing up the chance, even though Valli says he has no intentions of this being his last tour.
“I’m going to try my hardest to not make it my last,” he says. “But even it was, it’s been some of the most wonderful years of my life.”