We’ve been running the Four Seasons blog now for several years and our team of music detectives have un-earthed a mountain of data which is mind-boggling in comparison with what we knew about the group during the 70s when the fan club was at it’s peak as was the group’s music. Looking back through George Ingram’s recent newsletters has been a fascinating window on the past and as we reach the end of the articles library it again reminded me of the joy and the pain of being a fan during the 1970s. The joyful success of The Four Seasons and seeing them for the first time and the complete dismay when they broke-up (they were unceremoniously sacked – as had happened to Joe long back in 1975 after 10 loyal years).
Some people have commented recently about a ‘negativity’ in the blogs I post and is maybe something they don’t like to see. Maybe it is uncomfortable reading. I’ve always been careful to be supportive of the fans needs for accurate data and the contribution of the group/band members and of the Jersey Boys show and actors. But hey let’s get real and look at what you may want to praise or criticize …..lets ‘Walk Like A Man’!!!
Here’s some alternative perspectives from fans on their forums…….
Quote…..”I must say that your site has been a godsend for many of us fans who have begged for releasing older material albeit Motown or anything else. Your research and persistence in this area is truly amazing. As an American, I wish that this pursuit was heavier in this country where you would think that the resources would be greater.
Without your efforts we would never have been able to have access to some of these gems. (I Wonder Why, Lovers, Hymn To Her, Make Your Tomorrow Tonight, etc.) I only hope that it continues.”
“I know that it’s been frustrating that the partners(The Four Seasons Partnership) haven’t been any help in this pursuit. “
Response….”When we set up the web site back in 1997 we tried in vain to establish some sort of relationship with The Partnership to help the fans learn more about the past history of the group. That failed due to the Partnership’s wish to control what was said re the past,,,,,,,after all we now KNOW the past was to some extent (dare I say) ‘shady’and it was their right to control disclosure. They have done this as they wish in ‘Jersey Boys’. What was inexcusable was sending out ‘cease and desist’ orders when we were trying to communicate and accommodate them back in 1997. We at that time withdrew any support for the Partnership and have since focused on The Four Seasons as a group and all the members and collaborators who played a part in their story……independently of anything in the ‘fiction’ of Jersey Boys. What we have achieved has been for me truly amazing thanks to collaborators all over the world. A network of music detectives and collectors. I thank them all on behalf of anyone who benefits in the future from our research.
Question…Do fans have a right to hear the unreleased tracks?
Quote received….”I must take issue with this. Artists have the right to approve the release of their work. Apparently, they don’t think that any of these tracks are worthy. If I didn’t feel that if I produced a product that wasn’t good enough…I wouldn’t want to release it. Sure, many of us don’t really care and I love what I’ve heard so far!! It’s really not for us to say.
On top of that, there isn’t a real demand and from what I understand, the work involved outweighs any benefit….except for a few. “
Response…..This is an accurate comment but remains a bone of contention amongst artists and fans throughout music. My position is this……I am a music collector/detective and my interest is art! It happens to be popular music and is not restricted to The Four Seasons but I have recognized the importance of their creative body of work achieved with others irrespective of who instigated paid for or owns the work. Legally such things are clear. Artistically and historically there is much to debate. Have we the right to read Shakespeare’s unpublished plays? Go figure!. The fact is that Motown Universal have ownership of these recording and they have little or no commercial value to either them or the Partnership. Only when there is enough artistic value involved to enable historians to assess the full body of work will they appear. The one thing that US law does require is that they are preserved. So I believe they should be heard and added to the body of knowledge. We aren’t going to agree on this one, and I believe it is for us to say. Art for Art’s sake.
Quote……Regarding their loyalty to past members, John Paiva, Joe Long et al. Let’s not forget that the 1975 Four Seasons didn’t want Joe Long. The decision was made to launch a new band that would appeal to the current record buyer. I think Gaudio/Valli did everything they could to promote the Four Seasons with lots of product. It just didn’t work. Plus, it was their money!!! They took the risk…not the band members. I commend them for having tried. Sour grapes to those who complain.
Response…..The sacking of Joe Long must inevitably have stemmed from frictions within the band and Joe’s age may have been against him. The decision to market a youthful line-up without Joe was ultimately Valli/Gaudio’s whatever the influences and was sad and unworthy of the man’s loyalty and contribution.
Equally so the sacking of the band when we had all been told they were to be a NEW Four Seasons was ‘shabby’ and ‘disloyal’. But hey this is the music business and ‘the owners’ of the name needed to protect their finances/brand. But there was another way….why not carry on or at least give the guys a choice? Last night I was watching ‘Moneyball’ and Brad Pitt said to his assistant that he should call a baseball player in and just tell him they had to ‘let him go’. He couldn’t…..and Brad Pitt said “When you shoot a guy which is worse….A bullet to the head or five to the stomache and let him bleed out?” It’s a familiar perspective in business……but not all of us agree with it. Ultimately this goes down to Valli’s chosing his solo path…..for whatever reason?....he ultimately ‘cherry-picked’ Lee Shapiro reversed the decision and re-formed the band …and it has been that way since.
With John Paiva and Joe Long the expectation was not so much ‘sour grapes’ but a ‘lack of loyalty’…but hey this is the music business….come back Nick Massi!!!
Subject quote…..”Regarding Jersey Boys being the official Four Seasons legacy?
Take what you can get!! A play that involved a revolving door of past member in true chronological would have been a mess and uninteresting. Again, the partners took the risk for this project…no one else. After many failed tries…..they struck gold. That’s the coincidental story line here that mirrors their career. They could have had a one-off movie of the week years ago that would have faded in a month. Now look….almost 10 years running!!!!. What Jersey Boys does tell us is that persistence and determination can still pay off. I can’t tell you how many times they probably thought about giving it up over this 50-60 year span. It’s inspiring.”
Response…..Jersey Boys has been a great show and thanks to a Four seasons fan…Rex Woodard getting Tommy to ‘dish the dirt’……and we know from the court papers what happened. But would we have wanted it to not happen….NO way….and didn’t the writers do it well. We’ve all had many hours of joy this last 10 years thanks to that chance being taken. My problem is that we need to keep it as ‘A Four Seasons Show’……part of the legacy but not the whole story and I have had others say the real story behind the music is being sub-summed by this commercial ‘juggernaut’
I’ve always respected Frankie Valli’s tenacity/drive and determination to please his audience and to be so committed to them and his music. For me Bob Gaudio’s tremendous talent as a writer and producer are diminished by his limited recognition of the ‘team members’ who helped him achieve success……particularly his debt to Bob Crewe…..and I’ve said what I’ve said re ‘The NEW Four Seasons’ of the mid 70s….they deserve better recognition. Even if only in the credits.
But these are all just stories along the path of life……..just Four Seasons stories and whilst we will always respect and highlight the collaboration and creativity of the ‘members’….I think it is valid to be critical and concerned re the portrayed history of the group and access to their art.
We made the decision back in 1997 to not commercially support The Partnership after their treatment of us(me directly). I think since then we have done a substantial amount of commercial support in keeping fans informed. The research info is really valuable historically as has been the preservation of vinyl masters. No thanks is expected or wanted. No commercial gain of any kind has been made. But enough is enough and the research and web work will be wound up. The site and blog will eventually close-down probably next year. Someone else can champion the legacy if they are perhaps able to find a patron …..maybe someone who cares about truth and loyalty. Now that would be inspiring.!