Tommy DeVito (musician)

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Tommy DeVito
Birth nameGaetano DeVito
Born(1928-06-19)June 19, 1928
Belleville, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedSeptember 21, 2020(2020-09-21) (aged 92)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Genres Rock, pop
Occupation(s)Musician
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1950–2020
Associated acts The Four Seasons

Gaetano "Tommy" DeVito (June 19, 1928 – September 21, 2020) was an American musician and singer, best known as a founding member, vocalist, and lead guitarist of rock band the Four Seasons. [1]

Contents

Early years

DeVito was born in Belleville, New Jersey, United States, the youngest of nine children in an Italian-American family. [2] At eight years old, he taught himself to play his brother's guitar by listening to country music on the radio. By the time he was 12, he was playing for tips in neighborhood taverns. He quit school after the eighth grade. (Belleville High made him an honorary graduate in 2007.) By 16, he had his own R&B band and was making $20 or $25 a night. [3]

Career

DeVito's musical career began in the early 1950s when he formed "the Variety Trio" with his brother Nick DeVito and Hank Majewski. This core group performed under various names and changing lineups. The band expanded to a quartet and changed its name to "the Variatones" including the addition in 1954 of singer Francis Castelluccio (later known as Frankie Valli). When they were signed to a recording contract with RCA Victor, in 1956, the quartet of DeVito/DeVito/Hank Majewski/Valli had renamed themselves "the Four Lovers". Tommy and Frankie remained the only consistent members of the Four Lovers, as the group released seven singles and one album under the Four Lovers name. Their 1956 debut single, Otis Blackwell's "You're the Apple of My Eye", achieved enough national sales to appear as a minor hit on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. [4] The single landed Tommy his first national television appearance, when the Four Lovers appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956. [5]

While his brother Nick left the group, Tommy DeVito continued his musical pursuits, reforming and realigning the group. He was close friends with Joe Pesci, who introduced DeVito and Valli to Bob Gaudio. By 1960 The Four Lovers consisted of DeVito and Valli along with lyricist/singer/keyboardist Bob Gaudio and vocal arranger Nick Massi, and were mainly used as a backup band for producer Bob Crewe under contract. This is the lineup which adopted the name "The Four Seasons" (actually, they were billed numerically as the 4 Seasons), named after a bowling alley in Union, New Jersey, that had a lounge where they had auditioned. Signed by songwriter/producer Bob Crewe, the Four Seasons cut their first single under that name, "Bermuda", in November 1961. It was released by Gone Records, but did not succeed. Their next single did, in 1962 Gaudio's composition No. 1 single "Sherry". Released by Vee-Jay Records in July 1962, "Sherry" hit number one in September, the first of three consecutive chart-topping hits by the Four Seasons, the others being "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Walk Like a Man". [6]

Massi left the group in 1965, just before the release of "Let's Hang On!", and arranger Charles Calello played bass until a new bass player could be found, and then Joe Long joined the band and participated on many chart topping hits for the remainder of the decade and into the mid-1970s. DeVito left the group in April 1970 before the album Half and Half was released. He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2009 "I had had it up to here with the traveling and changing clothes three times a day, and taking two planes and then driving 100 miles to do a date. Getting on stage and doing the same stuff—I just had it." [7] On the last song of this album, "Oh Happy Day, Any Day Now", DeVito can be heard playing a bit of a solo on his guitar. He sold Valli and Gaudio his rights to the Four Seasons' material, name, and touring act upon leaving in 1970. The reason for his departure was originally indicated as a hearing problem, but it was later revealed that he had accrued significant debt and financial trouble. [8]

Times were tough for him for a while, as he discussed in a 2009 interview with Doug Elfman in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. [7] DeVito, along with fellow original Four Seasons Valli, Massi, and Gaudio, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. [8] DeVito rejoined Valli and Gaudio (Massi had died in 2000) on stage at the 2005 Broadway opening of the documentary-style musical Jersey Boys , a Tony Award winning hit chronicling the story of the group's early days, which was later adapted to a 2014 feature film directed by Clint Eastwood. [9]

Death

DeVito died on September 21, 2020, at the age of 92 in Las Vegas. His death was announced on Facebook by his friend, actor Alfred Nittoli, who stated that DeVito had recently been hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Nevada. [10] [11]

Related Research Articles

The Four Seasons (band) American rock band

The Four Seasons are an American rock band that became internationally successful in the 1960s and 1970s. Since 1970, they have also been known at times as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. In 1960, the band known as the Four Lovers evolved into the Four Seasons, with Frankie Valli as the lead singer, Bob Gaudio on keyboards and tenor vocals, Tommy DeVito on lead guitar and baritone vocals, and Nick Massi on electric bass and bass vocals. On nearly all of their 1960s hits they were credited as the 4 Seasons.

Frankie Valli American singer

Francesco Stephen Castelluccio, known professionally as Frankie Valli, is an American singer, known as the frontman of the Four Seasons beginning in 1960. He is known for his unusually powerful lead falsetto voice. Valli scored 29 top 40 hits with the Four Seasons, one top 40 hit under the Four Seasons alias the Wonder Who?, and nine top 40 hits as a solo artist. As a member of the Four Seasons, Valli's number-one hits include "Sherry" (1962), "Big Girls Don't Cry" (1962), "Walk Like a Man" (1963), "Rag Doll" (1964) and "December, 1963 " (1975). Valli's recording of the song "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" reached number two in 1967. As a solo artist, Valli scored number-one hits with the songs "My Eyes Adored You" (1974) and "Grease" (1978).

Robert John "Bob" Gaudio is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer, and the keyboardist and backing vocalist of the Four Seasons. Gaudio wrote or co-wrote and produced the vast majority of the band's music, including hits like "Sherry" and "December, 1963 ". Though he no longer performs with the group, Gaudio and lead singer Frankie Valli remain co-owners of the Four Seasons brand.

Nick Massi was an American bass singer, songwriter, and bass guitarist for The Four Seasons.

Charles Calello

Charles Calello is an American singer, composer, conductor, arranger, and record producer born in Newark, New Jersey. Calello attended Newark Arts High School and the Manhattan School of Music, in New York City. His track record of successfully collaborating with various artists to produce or arrange Billboard hit songs led to his nickname in the industry as the "Hit Man".

<i>Jersey Boys</i> 2005 jukebox musical

Jersey Boys is a 2005 jukebox musical with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. It is presented in a documentary-style format that dramatizes the formation, success and eventual break-up of the 1960s rock 'n' roll group The Four Seasons. The musical is structured as four "seasons", each narrated by a different member of the band who gives his own perspective on its history and music. Songs include "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Sherry", "December 1963 ", "My Eyes Adored You", "Stay", "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", "Walk Like A Man", "Who Loves You", "Working My Way Back to You" and "Rag Doll", among others.

Robert Stanley Crewe was an American songwriter, dancer, singer, manager, and record producer. He was known for producing, and co-writing with Bob Gaudio, a string of Top 10 singles for the Four Seasons.

Big Girls Dont Cry (The Four Seasons song) 1962 single by The Four Seasons

"Big Girls Don't Cry" is a song written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio and originally recorded by The Four Seasons. It hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 17, 1962, and, like its predecessor "Sherry", spent five weeks in the top position but never ranked in the Billboard year-end charts of 1962 or 1963. The song also made it to number one, for three weeks, on Billboard's Rhythm and Blues survey. It was also the quartet's second single to make it to number one on the US R&B charts.

Walk Like a Man (The Four Seasons song)

"Walk Like a Man" is a song written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio and originally recorded by the Four Seasons.

Joe Long was an American musician best known as the bass guitarist for the Four Seasons.

Rag Doll (The Four Seasons song) 1964 single by The Four Seasons

"Rag Doll" is a popular song written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio. It was recorded by the Four Seasons and released as a single in 1964. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on July 18, 1964, and remained on top for two weeks. The song was also a number one hit in Canada, and reached number two in the UK and number four in Ireland.

Working My Way Back to You

"Working My Way Back to You" is a song made popular by The Four Seasons in 1966 and The Spinners in 1980.

The Four Lovers was a band formed in 1956 that was the result of vocalist Frankie Valli joining The Variatones in 1954. The Four Lovers' achieved minor success before a name change to The Four Seasons in 1960. During those five years, group members also included Nicolas DeVito, Hugh Garrity, Charles Calello (bass), Nick Massi, Bob Gaudio, and Philip Mongiovi (drums)

The Wonder Who? was a nom de disque of The Four Seasons for four single records released from 1965 to 1967. It was one of a handful of "names" used by the group at that time, including Frankie Valli and The Valli Boys. Wonder Who? recordings generally feature the falsetto singing by Valli, but with a softer falsetto than on "typical" Four Seasons recordings.

This is a list of singles recorded and released by Frankie Valli and/or The Four Seasons in their various guises since 1953. This list includes only commercially released singles on which Valli or some configuration of the group was credited with performing or producing. Promotional-only releases and extended play records (EPs) are omitted from this list.

<i>Jersey Boys: Original Broadway Cast Recording</i> 2005 cast recording by various artists

Jersey Boys: Original Broadway Cast Recording is the Grammy-winning cast album for the 2005 Broadway musical Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The album was produced by original Four Season, Bob Gaudio. Principal vocals include Christian Hoff as "Tommy DeVito," Daniel Reichard as "Bob Gaudio," J. Robert Spencer as "Nick Massi" and John Lloyd Young as lead-singer "Frankie Valli." It was released November 1, 2005 by Rhino Entertainment and reached number eighty-five on the Billboard 200. In February 2008, the album was certified Gold by the RIAA. As of December 2014, the album has sold 1.4 million copies in the US.

"You're the Apple of My Eye" is a song written by Otis Blackwell and initially recorded and released as a single in 1956 by The Four Lovers, the precursor to The Four Seasons. Recorded after they were denied the opportunity to record another Blackwell song, "Don't Be Cruel", "You're the Apple of My Eye" was The Four Lovers' first exposure to U.S. national publicity, reaching the #62 position on the Billboard Hot 100 and earning the quartet an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. One of two Four Lovers singles that RCA Victor Records released simultaneously, it was the quartet's only foray onto the Hot 100 before the formation of The Four Seasons five years later.

<i>Sherry & 11 Others</i> 1962 studio album by The Four Seasons

Sherry & 11 Others is the debut album by The Four Seasons, released by Vee-Jay Records under catalog number LP-1053 as a monophonic recording in 1962 and later in stereo under catalog number SR-1053 the same year.

<i>The 4 Seasons Greetings</i> 1962 studio album by The Four Seasons

The 4 Seasons Greetings is the second studio album by The Four Seasons. It was released in 1962 on Vee-Jay Records as a monophonic recording and later again the same year in stereo.

<i>Jersey Boys</i> (film) 2014 film by Clint Eastwood

Jersey Boys is a 2014 American musical drama film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood, based on the 2005 Tony Award-winning jukebox musical of the same name. The film tells the story of the musical group The Four Seasons. Original band members Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio serve as executive producers.

References

  1. Ruhlmann, William. "Biography: Tommy DeVito". AllMusic . Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  2. Lauren M. Johnson. "Tommy DeVito, a founding member of The Four Seasons, dies from Covid-19 complications". CNN. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  3. Fink, Jerry (April 2, 2008). "Vegas man knows 'Jersey Boys' - Las Vegas Sun Newspaper". Lasvegassun.com. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  4. Whitburn, Joel. Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1993, Billboard Publications 1994 ISBN   0-89820-105-5
  5. BÂ, Frédéric. "The Four Lovers - - Video". Dailymotion.com. Retrieved February 4, 2021.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. "The Four Seasons earn their first #1 hit with "Sherry"". History.com. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  7. 1 2 "Las Vegas News | Breaking News & Headlines". Las Vegas Review-Journal . Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  8. 1 2 Bailey-Millado, Rob (September 22, 2020). "Tommy DeVito, original Four Seasons member, dead at 92 from COVID-19". New York Post . Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  9. Gilbert, Sophie (June 20, 2014). "Clint Eastwood's "Jersey Boys": Totally and Completely Baffling". The Atlantic. Retrieved February 4, 2021.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. NJ.com, Jeremy Schneider | NJ Advance Media For (September 22, 2020). "Tommy DeVito, original Four Seasons member, dies of COVID-19 at 92". Nj.com. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  11. Genzlinger, Neil (September 22, 2020). "Tommy DeVito, Original Member of the Four Seasons, Dies at 92". Nytimes.com. Retrieved September 23, 2020.