Bob Crewe

The Lost 'Golden Era' of Crewe – Gaudio

Ellie Greenwich loved Bob Crewe.


George Schowerer captured the magic of their relationship in dozens of studio photographs when they worked together in 1967 at Mirasound Studios and his production of her 45 sides 'I Want You To Be My Baby b/w Goodnight, Goodnight (What's So Good About It?)' on United Artists 5015. He also wrote the latter song for her using Jean Thomas, Mikie Harris and Valerie Simpson on backing vocals in March 1967 the same month he recorded 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You' with Frankie Valli. See the background video here

That relationship would strangely later spark the start of Bob Crewe's recovery to a new 'golden age' of songwriting and production and a re-union with past writing and producing colleague Bob Gaudio that would see them both achieve Number One Hits and go on to Crewe also collaborating with Jerry Corbetta and the writer, Ellie Greenwich, in producing the original cast album for Greenwich's Broadway musical, "Leader of the Pack" in the early 80s.

The contribution Ellie would make to his recovery in 1972 was after Bob Crewe had suffered a career collapse at the end of the 60s. Dan Crewe, Bob's brother had been with him in establishing Genius Inc in 1962 and they were Chairman and President respectively in the CGC Group of Record Labels that collapsed in 1970 and he does not have kind memories of his brother who overstretched himself when they were effectively partners. “He was the biggest pain in the ass I ever had to deal with in my life,” Dan Crewe recently said of his brother, whom he described as a narcissist “who did everything to excess. He was a real drunk. He could get out of hand. It’s the story of his life. It’s racing to the moon and then crashing. …” Dan was taking care of the business......“We were incredible together before the drugs and alcohol,” Dan Crewe said. “We were zooming. We had so many god-blessed hits, it was one right after the other. In the early days of the Seasons, we had three Top 10 records all the time. We were always on the charts. It was endless. We had so many different acts, all the time.” Eventually, alcohol gave way to pot, which led to cocaine. “And once cocaine came into the picture.........” Dan Crewe said, without finishing his sentence. “With my brother, you always worried what was going to happen.” But not everyone saw Bob Crewe so negatively and he consistently made good records like no other producer of the 1960s and 70s, although he had problems with Bob Gaudio and Mitch Ryder which have been anecdotally made public. Ellie Greenwich had a good relationship with Bob Crewe and commented on his ability and on how they first met in an interview before her untimely passing in 2009....."I'm not exactly sure when I met Bob Crewe, but we always saw each other around the business from the very beginning. (We) had an affinity for each other (and) still do! He was a joy to work with on all levels . . . he's a perfectionist, he's open to any outside ideas, he really knows what he wants and gets it, and most of all, he is passionate about what he does. He puts all of himself into everything he touches . . . I always loved and still do love Bob! I can go on and on about this talented gentleman, and he is just that: A 'gentle man'." But as they were siblings and Dan Crewe was jointly managing the business decisions, perspectives clearly differ, and drugs can create big issues within families.

Although he still held it together into the studio to produce great 4 Seasons songs by 1970, they became very diverse but always interesting. 'Lay Me Down, Wake Me Up' [originally titled 'Let This Time'] would be his last writing and production work in the studio with Bob Gaudio and the group in August, before his financial and addiction related break-down. His final recording at this time with Bob Gaudio will surface this year with the sublime 'I Need To Get To Know You', which they wrote and recorded together and he would co-write 'A New Beginning' with him which was done as an unreleased rock 'demo' in 1970 before it would emerge in full harmony by the Four Seasons on the 1972 'Chameleon' album with Bob Gaudio producing.

Bob Crewe would be in 'recovery' until 1972 when brother Dan helped him get back into writing and production with a contract at Motown Records whilst Frankie and the group were signed to their LA based 'MoWest' label. He quickly adapted in September 1972 with the commencement of productions with Bobby Darin. One of the key tracks was ‘Happy’ , the Smokey Robinson – Michel Legrande penned theme to Berry Gordy’s movie with Diane Ross, ‘Lady Sings The Blues’. He also created some very harmonic ‘Seasons’ styled backings on ‘Another Song on My Mind’ and ‘ I Won’t Last A Day Without You’ with Bobby Darin. [allegedly also recorded with Frankie Valli and in the Motown Archive]. Unfortunately a heart operation resulted in Bobby Darin's tragic and untimely death and the album was finished with infill songs and released in Feb 1974. ( Bobby passed away on Dec. 20, 1973)

Bob Gaudio had signed Frankie and the group to Berry Gordy's empire in October 1971 with a deal for 8 tracks with in-house producers and 12 stand-alone full group tracks with Bob producing. Only one track, from the May 1972 album release 'Chameleon', would get US single release and a 'Corporation' production of Walk On, Don't Look Back' in August 1972. Notwithstanding this lack of promotion and releases, Bob Crewe's return would change their lives and paths as they started to write and produce, together and separately in November 1972. Bob Crewe would start to write again with Alan Shatkin, and Bob Gaudio and both Bob's set aside past differences after traumatic periods in both their lives, to pen new songs.

And whether it was a favour returned or not, we don't know, but by 2nd November 1972 Bob Crewe was back in the studio with Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. We still haven't heard it as it remains 'unreleased' but Bob Crewe's first registered and completed Master Nr 61633 at Motown on 16 track [Tape 2414] was a song contributed by him writing with Ellie Greenwich and ex Four-Evers member Steve Tudanger. 'Be My Lover, Be My Friend'. It would be a magic tribute to Ellie [and Steve] to hear it released.

Very soon the sessions and tracks were rolling and over a 5 month period some of the 'Bob's' best work together and in their own right as producers since the mid 60s were emerging from the mixing booths as completed recordings. 'With My Eyes Wide Open' was amongst the first of powerful driving songs which would not appear until post departure from the label on the album 'Inside You' in 1975. That title track was strong enough to interest the Motown Management and would eventually warrant an album release but only 'Listening To Yesterday' from these sessions at this time would be selected for single release [strangely twice!]. This song would also be mixed in two entirely different versions by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio as classy examples of this period and their ability. The latter previously unreleased version did not appear until the 2008 Motown Anthology.

Another song from these collaborations which will be released in late 2022 is 'Star'. A complex and innovative arrangement combining rock and harmony in a stunning production. By May 1973 Bob Crewe had completed the song from a movie [Tom Sawyer] 'How Come' [Motown 1255F] with soaring studio session vocalists and not the Four Seasons group which had temporarily been disbanded by Frankie whilst he recruited new members. Gaudio did the vocal arrangements with Crewe producing.

The video is here

Bob Crewe also in the Spring recorded Frankie Valli solo on tracks which have not yet been released by 2022. 'Give Us This Day' and 'Turn It All Around' with arranger Dave Blumberg remain unheard which is criminal given the commitments made in preparing the Snapper Music Box Set. However Bob Gaudio's return to producing Frankie Valli in the middle of the year has produced three unheard tracks in that set as approved by Bob Gaudio. Previously 'You've Got Your Troubles' and 'The Skalawag Song (aka 'Silver Fishes') saw single release from those sessions and now we have 'Whatever You Want', a 1962 Crewe – Gaudio composition, 'You Can't Hold On' and 'Future Years' appearing this year. But for some unknown reason Bob Gaudio did not include 'Getting Over You” from the same Tape P2678?

Again lack of promotion and disarray at Motown meant the cancellation of a planned album MW788 [provisional title 'Inside Out'] and it is little wonder that all involved thought they had to find a way back to getting someone in a record company to believe in the music and promote it.!!

Motown made one final promise as a NEW Four Seasons group line up were signed up with a never before range of musicianship that would lead to two additional lead vocalists within the Four Seasons. The 'execs' at Motown committed to Bob Crewe sessions in November and December 1973 on new songs Bob Crewe had composed with '11th Hour' group member Kenny Nolan. He used the NEW Four Seasons with Nick Massi returning and Charles Calello arranging. 'Hymn To Her', 'Lovers', 'Charisma', 'Hickory', 'My Eyes Adored You' and 'Make Your Tomorrow Tonight' were completed and two released on Motown 1288F. 'Hickory b/w Charisma' got to Nr 96 in the US chart and an album was gathered from the 1973 sessions, but all too late. Bob Gaudio had his own new compositions registered at Jobete , the publishing arm of Motown and all of their contracts were running out. Bob Crewe was rolling too as Lady Marmalade hit Nr 1 with Crewe's production of 'Voulez Vous Couchez Avec Moi Ces Soi' in November 1974 and he subsequently bought himself out of his writing contract with Motown. Bob Gaudio appears to have waited for his to lapse and so left the publishing with Jobete for 'Who Loves You' and other tracks.

Only 'My Eyes Adored You' could be bought back when they left the Motown label with Bob Gaudio's unrecorded compositions The rest is history as they set up the contracts at Warner-Curb and Private Stock. Bob Crewe's production and writing effort with Kenny Nolan achieved the long wanted Nr 1 for Frankie Valli, with the 'TAPE SOLD BACK TO PRODUCER' song as their Artist Card records. The success for Bob Gaudio, who with co-writer Judy Parker had adapted and devoted his writing and production skills to the band, recorded and produced the songs that would hit the heights with 'Who Loves You' and 'December 1963(Oh What A Night).

Bob Crewe's production and writing effort with Kenny Nolan had at last achieved the long wanted Nr 1 for Frankie Valli. 'The Night' from the 1972 'Chameleon' album would also soar into the UK Top Ten upon it's re-release in the UK. A belated Motown success.

The 'Lost Era' would conclude finally with Bob Gaudio's success with the 'Who Loves You' album. However Bob Crewe's joys at the magnificent 'Swearing To God', and 'In My Eyes' for the 'Close-Up' album was ended by a hit and run driver, who nearly killed him in 1975 leaving him in a body cast for a year, and Bob Gaudio had to finish the album. Ironically this was as Crewe walked to an AA meeting [now titled NA(Narcotics Anonymous)] There are we were told by Bill Inglot other 'out-takes' from these album sessions but so far these have not surfaced.

So ended the LOST 'second coming' of Crewe – Gaudio. They never quite re-found that magic again although the 'Heaven Above Me' album and now the salvaged LOST DISCO ALBUM with the unreleased 'Back In Action' by Crewe-Corbetta will surface this year. 'Soul/Heaven Above Me' and 'Let It Be Whatever It Is' looked like being their last collaboration as Bob Crewe substantially retired by 1981 that is until their last effort, the prophetic 'What About Tomorrow' on the 1985 album 'Streetfighter'.......but Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan take pride of place in our full restoration of those sessions with the unreleased 'Killing Time' in the Box Set. Bob Crewe however did not participate in the production of the album.

If justice could be done we would have all of the music from the 1973 Motown sessions and in particular the unheard productions by Bob Crewe [along with alternate versions and 'takes'] to demonstrate the road to what followed in terms of success in the 1970s post Motown. Bob Gaudio has the power to give us this and set the record straight. As he says....'if you believe ….you receive'. 2023 beckons and another project is 'believed in and awaited'.

Casey Chameleon – September 2022

The titles shown in RED indicate previously unreleased tracks with some available in the Snapper Music Box Set this December













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