The Fox in Adelaide - Part 3
Jersey Boys is extremely special in many ways. It’s not just a ground-breaking Broadway musical that tells the unique story of four guys from the streets of New Jersey.
It’s not just a major movie directed by Clint Eastwood bound for all manner of success and awards. But it is a story that can change lives…. to the people that lived it, the people that see it and also the people that tell it.
I had the distinct opportunity, and pleasure, to play the front man of the Four Seasons, Frankie Valli, for approximately three years and Jersey Boys did exactly that.. It changed my life. And quite quickly, I might add.
A couple months after I got the call to say I landed the gig, I found myself at Legacy Studios in NYC in a (HUGE!) recording studio being vocally directed by Bob Gaudio. (In case you don’t know who I’m talking about there… Original Four Season member and writer of ALL their music). I spent five days with a legend. I don’t think I fully understood what was happening at the time. Certainly now after recording and releasing my own album, I can’t tell you what that did for me as a singer and artist. He was an amazingly patient guy and he actually told me that I had the “chops” that Frankie has, but where I really needed focus was as a story teller. Frankie is an amazing interpreter of lyrics; it’s what drew Bob to him in the first place. Bob said that Frankie could sing ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ and have you in tears. Listening back on those recordings, it’s clear as day what Bob was speaking about. I wonder what he’d think of my vocals on my album now.
That kind of experience is what moulds an artist. Hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth like that… But a couple years into playing the part I got the chance to see the man himself, Frankie Valli, live in concert. This wasn’t the first time I’d met him. It was the third.
The first time was when we launched the Australian production of Jersey Boys in Las Vegas, in the Jersey Boys Theatre at the Palazzo Hotel.
The second was on St Patricks day, two years later. (Where Frankie tried to convince me that St Patrick was Italian. Italians.) He was in to see the show. BIZARRE experience. Knowing he was watching me, playing him, with me, knowing he was there. Weird.
But the third was time different. It was just me and him. I went back stage after the concert. Just the man, and the young man telling his story every night. We spoke for about two hours. About a lot of things. Music, women, family, singing, storytelling…. I generally don’t go into much detail when asked about that conversation. That one is between me and Frankie. It was cool.
And now a couple years on from leaving that “joyride”, I have the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tune, ‘The Night’, on my own album. How COOL IS THAT?! I’ve added the original version to my Four Seasons Spotify playlist along with some others that didn’t make it to the stage show or movie that you can check out. My favourite is a song called “Everybody Knows My Name”. The lyrics are blinding and Frankie’s delivery is everything Bob was talking about in our “Legacy Sessions”. I particularly love the boys coming in and chanting the title lyric over and over again at the end. Makes me think of them on tour and going through it all together.
Play it loud and listen to a man tell his story. I do.
To Frankie and Bob - Thank you.