The Three Seasons, Unscripted

With the Jersey Boys movie about to open, we revisit chats with the three surviving original members of the Four Seasons

DeVito, Valli, Gaudio and Massi in their early season. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

DeVito, Valli, Gaudio and Massi in their early season. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Tune up your Joisey accent, Vegas. Come June 20, the movie version of Jersey Boys opens in town, directed by (renowned song-and-dance man) Clint Eastwood. At different times since 2012, I’ve interviewed the three surviving members of the original Four Seasons—Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio and Tommy DeVito (the fourth, Nick Massi, died in 2000). Here are excerpted comments from the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers about the hit musical, their careers and relationships:

Valli: “Bob said to me, ‘If we do this, we have to tell the truth.’ We were always worried that if people found out any of the members of the Four Seasons had done time, the radio would stop playing us and the public would reject us. Now there are a lot of kids who don’t make it until they get arrested.”

Gaudio: “We spilled our guts, but some things are still in the closet. Everything was swept under the carpet then. We didn’t do a lot of interviewing because questions would come up and you’re either going to lie or just plead the fifth.”

DeVito: “I went to jail seven or eight times. I’m not proud of it, but I’m not ashamed of it. My neighborhood was rough. If you come out alive, that’s an achievement. Whatever happened when I was out there scuffling and doing things I wasn’t supposed to, that was my life.”

Gaudio: “We were concerned with somebody coming out the bad guy, and I guess that would fall in Tommy’s world. He has done many things, some of which are not in the show. He was a lovable rogue. When he was OK with it, we certainly were.”

DeVito: “I remember [co-writer] Marshall Brickman said, ‘I wish I had two Tommy DeVitos to write about.’”

Gaudio: “There is a certain shock and awe when our story is told. The cat is out of the bag now, but during the first year, you could hear gasps in the audience.”

Valli: “To go through the loss of a child, it never leaves you. It’s still very hard for me to watch the show. For as many times as I’ve seen [that scene], I have to put my head down and in a place where I’m not listening.”

DeVito: “[Mob boss] Gyp DeCarlo [who aided the group] was a really good friend. I didn’t ask him what he did when he woke up in the morning—‘how many guys ya gonna kill today?’”

Valli: “We did not have to give Tommy and [Massi’s family] a piece [of the musical’s profits], but I’m happy we did. They were there in the beginning. If they made bad decisions, why should they be punished for the rest of their lives? Why should you become successful and not care if people or their families are struggling?”

Gaudio: “[The show] brought things back together, people we hadn’t had a lot of communication with for years. I still talk to [childhood pal Joe] Pesci occasionally. Tommy was in Vegas, and we sort of lost track of each other.”

Valli: “There will always be a place in my heart for Tommy. There were things about him I wasn’t thrilled about, and I’m sure there were things about me he wasn’t thrilled about. Most of it was good. His heart was in the right place and so was mine.”

DeVito: “Every once in a while, Frankie will call and say, “How ya doin’?’ I have to give him a lot of credit. I respect what he accomplished, but he went through a lot with his family, losing a daughter. I take up prayers for him whether I’m mad at him or not. And I call Bob once in a while.”

Valli: “I look at this play as being a message to kids who didn’t go to college, who get in trouble, that it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. There are many people out there that have stories if they are willing to tell the truth and not be afraid.”

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