We have recently heard from Joe Long that Demetri ‘s health has been steadily declining and In the past year he was stricken with Parkinson’s Disease which developed very rapidly resulting in him no longer being able to play the guitar - music was his livelihood and so he is having a really tough time.
Joe has sent a message asking that “the great people in the U.K. who still remember Demetri when he toured here in the early 70’s, and who love him, to pray for him. He’s a special human being, and a super talented artist. Sorry to bring such sad news, Lynn. Stay well, and give all of the gang in Britain my love - you are all so warm and loving, and, as I have since the first time I visited Britain, I love you all”.
Demetri has also been in touch and says he appreciates our concern adding:
“Here's hoping all is well with you and yours. I chat with Joe LaBracio frequently.......have not seen Tommy DeVito since his 88th birthday party in June and I talk with Bill DeLoach regularly. Stay well........be happy. Love, Light and Joy! Demetri Callas”
A group of his friends from his home town, Frederick, Maryland, are having a fund raising event for him this Sunday 19 February at the FSK Holiday Inn Ball Room. Joe is going to attend the event to try to help out by speaking, and signing some photographs to help raise some money to help Demetri with his bills. Details below.
If you would like to help Demetri online donations can be made here - remember to put Demetri Callas as the recipient name - he will then receive a note of your donation and I am told that he will receive 100% of the donation made.
(If you are in the UK type in your postcode for the Zip Code and then I put WM in for the State - donations are made via credit card - I have just done this and it worked OK and I received an acknowledgement - Lynn)
If anyone would like to send a card or a message to Demetri please send them to Lynn Boleyn and she will pass them on for you.
We met up with Demetri in Raleigh in October 2008 with Joe Long and again in November 2009 in Las Vegas with Bill DeLoach and Joe Long.
At the start of the Raleigh convention in 2008 Charles Alexander opened up a large box of ‘Jersey Boys Fruit’ courtesy of Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio and read out a message from them:
“Hi Gang, both Frankie and I are overwhelmed by your support through the many years of harsh winters, warm summers, and the spring and fall of our careers. Quite a ride and seemingly just beginning again. We especially want to thank Joe and Demetri for travelling that road with us and contributing much music and memorable moments to say the least. Yes, Joe and Demetri did add some highlights. Like Demetri walking through a major airport wearing Hot Pink short shorts in the dead of winter. And Joe engaging in an after-hour sport with Tommy Devito presiding as judge. Now that one I will leave to your imagination and Joe to deal with for the rest of the night … All and all, “Guys and Dolls”, this has been a real thrill for everyone who has ever cared about our music. And as someone from the fan club said, “Jersey Boys has Valli-dated Frankie Valli and The 4 Seasons and everyone who loved them” … We are humbled … Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli.”
What an honour it was to spend time with Joe Long and Cheeky Demetri Callas (who outdressed us all!) and to hear just some of the many wonderful stories they had to tell - like the time the 4 Seasons were in the UK and their hotel bar was closed early – Joe was sitting in the lobby and Demetri got into the elevator – he said he was bored so he went up to the next floor and then pressed the button to come back down again, the doors opened and he had removed an item of clothing! He pushed the button to go back up to the next floor again and he continued to do this a number of times and said “each trip I removed one item of clothing!” Joe recalled that he got down to the final item!
Demetri’s impersonation of Frankie Valli caused howls of laughter from everyone at the convention (he walked into the room on his knees) just proving what a really warm, great and fun guy he is.
Demetri was with the 4 Seasons for 3 years, replacing Tommy DeVito and proved to be “an act all by himself". He joined the group in early 1970 following a call from an agent who told him the Four Seasons were interested in him becoming a guitar player – he said he was really excited as the Four Seasons “were a legendary act” although at that time he did not realise he was to be Tommy’s replacement. Demetri thought about the offer for a week and then said “Yes”. He said he was then “beckoned to Joe’s House in New Jersey” and it was Joe’s job “to break me in” – it was his job to teach Demetri all parts of all the songs in 3 days which he did. Not only that but they then switched parts and Joe sang Tommy’s parts and Demetri sang Joe’s!
The first recording Demetri sang on was “My Eyes Adored You” which they recorded for Motown in 1971. Demetri and Joe sang on all the Chameleon recordings and they said that the Seasons “never sounded tighter or more in tune” than at that time. Demetri left because in his own words “I am not proud of this but I must have been the most irresponsible erratic character in the group” and he got wind that he might possibly be dismissed. Demetri said that he loved every minute of the times he shared with Joe and everyone else in the group and that due to his time with the group he learned so much in a short time.
Another story told by Demetri was about “I Wonder Why”. Having too much time on their hands whilst on tour in Southern Marilyn, Virginia, he, Joe, Gerry Polci and Lee Shapiro composed a song called “I Wonder Why”. They all got together and put the words and the music together and took a cassette of the track and played it to Frankie and asked him if he would put his vocals to it after the show that night which he agreed to do. “Our biggest disappointment” said Demetri “was we took the only master tape of that recording to Motown/Mowest and left the tape with them - they said they would like to release it. We went back to New York but soon after the group left Mowest.”
I Wonder Why - Lost In The Motown Vault can be read here:
The full review of the Raleigh meet up is here:
and also here thanks to the late Frank Rovello:
It was lovely to see Joe and Demetri again In Las Vegas in November 2009 when we also met up with Bill DeLoach who is currently touring with Frankie Valli again assisting Robby Robinson on keyboards.
Bill, like Demetri, joined the Seasons in the early 1970’s just after the release of Chameleon.
The full review of the meet up in Las Vegas is here:
Thoughts, much love and prayers to Demetri – all your friends and fans in the UK and across the world will keep you in their prayers and we will do whatever we can to help you. Keep that cheeky smile beaming and your wonderful sense of humour shining through and think of those Hot Pink short shorts whenever you are feeling down. Take care and love to you from all of us.
By Lynn E Boleyn MBE
170 Beachcroft Road