Ever since he was a young boy growing up in Newark, New Jersey, Frankie Valli knew that singing was his calling in life.
Suffice it to say that the 89-year-old icon has come a long way after leaving his tough, working-class neighborhood – and seeing him today is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face…
Frankie Valli’s unique three-octave range and unmatched falsetto voice became synonymous with the American bubble-gum era of the mid-1950s, typified by drive-ins and soda shops. Despite the passage of time, his songs continue to resonate with today’s audiences, testament to the quality and passion of his music.
At the tender age of seven, Frankie’s passion for singing was ignited when his mother took him to watch a youthful Frank Sinatra perform at the Paramount Theater in Manhattan. This experience left a lasting impression, setting him on a path towards his lifelong dream of becoming a successful singer.
At that time, he was unaware that he would develop a deep connection with his first role model, ”Ol’ Blue Eyes” Sinatra.
”He kind of took me under his wing as a friend because I did this thing for his mother. For about 10 years we were really close. Every time I saw him it was a big hug and a kiss on the cheek,” Valli said.
Frankie began his singing on street corners with the guys, and his path to stardom was not an easy one. Growing up in downtown Newark, he worked a variety of jobs, including truck driving, caddying on a golf course, and barbering (like his father), before achieving success in the music industry.
”My parents didn’t have money, I came from nothing. I had to have something to fall back on,” Frankie says.
In the early 1960s, Frankie Valli and his band, The Four Seasons, shot to fame, becoming one of the biggest acts in the world. Hits like ”Sherry,” ”Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and ”Walk Like a Man” topped the charts and turned the members of The Four Seasons into household names.
As a natural extension of his career as a musician, Valli started working as an actor in the mid 1960s. One of his most notable acting roles was in the film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys, which told the story of The Four Seasons and their rise to fame.
Throughout his career as a member of The Four Seasons, and indeed as a solo artist, Valli made several appearances on television shows and in films, showcasing his talents beyond just singing. He has made appearances on various TV shows over the years, including Miami Vice, The Sopranos and Hawaii Five-0, demonstrating his versatility as an entertainer.
Today, Valli is considered a cornerstone of rock and roll history. The music icon has been performing and touring for many years, and is still active in the industry. Currently residing in California, the 89-year-old artist hasn’t showed any indication of plans to retire anytime soon.
”It used to be real hard performing the same songs over and over but every time I sing a a song, which is what the public want to hear, not my new material or even my solo recordings, I try to perform it as though it were the first time,” Frankie said in 1993.
”We were living in the projects and by the time I was twenty years old I was married and we had kids right away. I lived in the projects right up until I had success,” he said.
Frankie and Mary raised two daughters together (Francine and Antonia) but divorced in 1971. His second marriage was to MaryAnn Hannagan in 1974, lasting eight years. After that, he married Randy Clohessy in 1984, and they had three sons together. However, the couple separated in 2004 after a messy divorce.
As in all families, unfortunate events happen, and Valli has not been exempt from tragedies. In fact, he has experienced one of the worst things a parent can go through.
In 1980, his stepdaughter Celia suffered a fatal accident when she fell off a fire escape. Just six months later, he was dealt another devastating blow with the loss of his youngest daughter Francine, who reportedly passed away from a drug overdose. These events were undoubtedly some of the most difficult experiences any parent could go through, and it’s testament to Frankie’s resilience that he has continued to carry on with his music career in the years since.
Thankfully, despite the tragedies that have befallen him, Frankie has several children who continue to bring joy to his life and have successful careers of their own. As any grandparent knows, the feeling of pride that comes from seeing your grandchildren grow and flourish is truly indescribable, and for Frankie, this is no exception.
The love and support of his family have undoubtedly been a source of strength and comfort for him throughout his life, and it’s heartwarming to see how they have continued to stay close-knit despite the challenges they have faced.
”My kids are all creative and creators. Even my grandkids! My son Brando is doing EDM and I just saw my granddaughter Olivia perform in the touring company of Pretty Woman in Los Angeles. She is playing the lead. It was thrilling!,” Frankie told The Montrealer last year.
By doing so, we can help ensure that his legacy lives on for many years to come and continues to inspire new generations of music lovers.
Happy Birthday, Frankie Valli!