Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ biggest hits weren’t recorded for Motown, but the group that was the subject of the hit musical “Jersey Boys” did spend four years with the label and its MoWest Records subsidiary, between 1971-74.
“It was terrific,” Valli, 75, says of a period that saw limited success with a series of singles and an album, 1971’s “Chameleon,” that failed to chart. “It was very surprising to me from the beginning that (Motown founder) Berry Gordy said he was influenced by us — y’know, the foot-stomping and the hand-clapping that we did on a lot of the early records.
“Unfortunately, when we made the deal at Motown back then Berry Gordy was supposed to be getting involved in some of the production and things we would be doing, and then he got caught up in a film with Diana Ross called ‘Lady Sings the Blues’ and it just took all his time.”
Valli says that he ultimately sat down with Gordy to discuss the situation and the group was released from its contract. “But we had a good time over there,” Valli says. “It was great to even have a short time with that historic company.”
A limited-edition compilation, “Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons: The Motown Years” came out in May 2008.
Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons perform at 8 p.m. Friday, April 16, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave. Detroit. Tickets are $25-55. Call 313-471-6611 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.