Tommy DeVito, an Original Member of the Four Seasons, Dies

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Tommy DeVito (2nd from L)

Tommy DeVito, one of the original members of the hit singing group the Four Seasons, died Monday night (September 21). The news of his death was revealed by his longtime friend, Alfred Nittoli, as well as by Bobby Valli, brother of the legendary group’s Frankie Valli. The story was first reported by NJArts.com. DeVito was 92 and reportedly died as a result of Covid-19.

In his brief tribute, Bobby Valli wrote, “Music Legend! (Original Jersey Boy) Tommy DeVito (R.I.P.). You were loved and will be missed.”

DeVito first teamed with Frankie Valli in a New Jersey-based group that ultimately chose the name the Four Lovers in the mid-1950s. With Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi, they changed their name to the Four Seasons and scored their first hit with “Sherry,” a #1 single in 1962.

“Rag Doll” topped the Record World singles chart on July 18, 1964

DeVito was the group’s baritone vocalist and lead guitarist, and was self-taught. The real-life Jersey Boys kept churning out hit after hit with “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man,” also reaching #1 over the next year.

Plenty of other hits followed including “Dawn (Go Away)” (#3 in 1964), “Rag Doll” (#1 in 1964), and “Let’s Hang On” (#3 in 1965), among them.

Massi departed the group in 1965 and DeVito left in 1970, selling his share of the group’s rights to Valli and Gaudio. The four reunited at their 1990 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The group’s story is told in the popular musical, Jersey Boys.

Related: Frankie Valli is still at it

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  1. Da Mick
    #1 Da Mick 23 September, 2020, 14:51

    I’ve seen Frankie Valli’s later years incarnations of the Four Seasons, several times. They featured younger, backup singers, who were often featured, and were obviously trained voices. While their vocals were flawless, they lacked the sonic character of the original Seasons’ sound. I don’t know if it was because they weren’t from Jersey, they weren’t Italian, or because they actually WERE trained singers, and the original Seasons were just guys from the neighborhood. In any case, their modern pristine sound, while making for a great show, did not give me the feeling that the vocals from those original Four Seasons recording still do.

    While we’re on the subject, I’ve always thought that Bob Crewe never got his due as the producer of the Season’s records. As both a musician myself, and someone old enough to originally hear the Seasons’ hits coming though car AM radios, I’ve always marveled at the fidelity of the inventive music on their recordings, especially as it was a vocal group. In particular, I’ve always enjoyed how Crewe was probably one of the first producers to have drums miked hot on their recordings, so that not only could you hear them clearly, instead of in the background, but you could actually hear their tone, which he used as elements in their songs, along with other percussion many wonderful blends. Much is made of Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” production technique, and it certainly has it’s own unique sound, that was a huge part of many hit records, in its heyday. But I think Crewe had a “sound” that was equally impactful, not to mention how many hit records he wrote, or co-wrote. If George Martin was “The Fifth Beatle,” Bob Crewe was easily The Fifth Season.”

    Love to hear from anyone here who ever saw the original Four Seasons live in their heyday, and what that was like. Did they ever actually play those instruments live, that they posed with on record covers?

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    • RecordSteve
      RecordSteve 23 September, 2020, 20:21

      I liked the comment “Bob Crewe the 5th Season.” This Jersey boy never saw them live, but they were close to my heart on my pocket AM transistor radio!

      Reply this comment
  2. Da Mick
    #2 Da Mick 25 September, 2020, 12:27

    I’ve answered my own question after finding this amazing soundtrack from a 1964 performance in Clearwater Florida. It’s the Seasons playing all the instruments and singing live, quite amazingly, with a drummer. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvle_oo_Ny0

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