Jersey Boys, the Broadway play, may have closed on Broadway after ten years, however for the people that just can’t get enough of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, they can still get the real thing. The great Frankie Valli made his annual New York appearance in Westbury this past weekend. For myself and fellow Four Seasons “junkies” it couldn’t come quickly enough. For me, the highlight is to be able to get to the theatre early and watch a musical genius like Frankie Valli prepare for the show with his musical director Robby Robinson, today’s Four Seasons and the rest of his band during the sound check. Robby Robinson starts the rehearsal by going over the roster of songs that they will be performing with the full band. The Four Seasons go over the back ground vocals until Robby feels that it’s perfect. Then the ageless Frankie Valli walks on stage and goes right to work. Frankie doesn’t miss anything during the shows preparation, every sound and every beat from all the instruments must be right on. He doesn’t want to disappoint any fan at his sold out shows. He will go over all songs until it sounds perfect and only then do you see a satisfied look on his face. Frankie reminds me of a champion boxer preparing for a title fight and Robby Robinson reminds me of his coach getting him ready for the event. Frankie also reminds me of how Yankees manager Billy Martin looked when batting practice ended and his team was about to play a big game. As he starts to leave the stage to head back to his dressing room Robby says,” Frankie, Ray is here.” Frankie looks over, sees me and says, “Get up here!” I don’t walk, I run up to the stage and give one of my true heroes a hug. We go backstage where there is a huge spread-Italian food that looks incredible, from Patsy’s, which is Frankie’s favorite restaurant in New York City. Of course, it was also Frank Sinatra’s favorite place. Frankie says let’s get some food and sit in my room. We talked about music, baseball and life. Frankie, as everyone knows, idolized Frank Sinatra and was very close to him. Frankie has many great memories with old blue eyes. One of the things that he shared with me was that no matter what Tom Lasorda says, Frank Sinatra was a true Yankee fan. Frankie also has nice memories with Joe DiMaggio and is forever grateful that during a period when DiMaggio didn’t like to sign autographs, he would get a baseball and sign it for Frankie’s son. Knowing DiMaggio as I did, that was respect because I saw him reject some dignitaries at times.
If you know Frankie Valli than you know that he is a really good guy and I can guarantee you that’s the reason that DiMaggio gave him true respect.
While sitting there, Dean Egnater, who has been with Frankie for as long as I can remember as his tour manager, walks into the room to go over some things and then Alan Gaba, assistant tour manager, comes in to check on the man and of course Stewie Stone, the comedian that has been opening Frankie’s show forever, comes in with his food, sits down and tells some very funny stories. Stewie actually lives in the same building as my boss, Yankees President Randy Levine, and he says, “The next time I see him I’m gonna ask him for a raise for you.” I start to laugh and beg him not to do that.
Some of the band members like drummer Craig Pilo and singers Brian and Brandon Brigham, Todd Fornier and Erik Bates actually address Frankie as “The Boss.” I tell Frankie that that’s how we addressed Mr. Steinbrenner. Frankie smiles because he can tell that I still miss my boss.
Then he responds by saying that he is glad That the Steinbrenner family has kept the Yankees, Thier brand is to important for the game.
As for the show itself, what can I say? Sherry, Swearin’ to God, My Eyes Adored You, the hits go on and on. The man is still on top of his game. I can say that because the fans were really very happy. When you hear all people both young and old saying Man what a show, nothing else needs to be said.
Jersey Boys, the play, was great. However, as Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell once said in their great song “Ain’t nothing like the real thing baby.”
Go see Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons at a city near you.