Legendary singer Frankie Valli has performed all over Las Vegas for decades now, including during the last 15 years when the Broadway smash “Jersey Boys”—which famously tells the musical story of the Four Seasons—has given Valli a late-career boost. He’s back on the Strip this weekend for his first shows at the Park Theater, and I caught up with the man behind one of the best-known voices of all time to talk Vegas, music and more.
How excited are you to be playing the newest big room on the Strip? I’m very excited. It’s nice to see Vegas changing a bit, going more toward the star policy at a lot of the hotels. Not that there’s anything against production shows, but I think after a while everything gets old, and the headliner policy is a good thing for Las Vegas. And I’m really thrilled about [Park Theater]. The last time I played Vegas last year it was at the Palms and that was incredible. It’s just nice to be back. You know, I’ve everything from the Riviera to the Aladdin to the Sands to the Orleans, and I really like the Orleans because the nice thing there is a good portion of the audience that comes out are locals.
It sounds like Vegas is still a special place for you. It is very special, for so many reasons. I remember Vegas from the days of working in lounges at the Flamingo with a number of different rock ‘n’ roll acts, like Fats Domino. I’ve seen it grow and seen its demise and saw it coming back again, and it’s nice to see that but there’s a lot about the old Vegas I miss. Now it seems like every hotel is attached to the next one. You don’t have to take a cab.
What’s the process of assembling the current group of singers that make up the Four Seasons? It’s all about finding the right people in order to keep the integrity of what the records were all about. There’s a massive amount of talent out there and unfortunately not enough places for them to show what they can do. When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey, in a hundred-mile radius there had to be 800 places you could work, bars and clubs. You could work on your craft there and get experience. But we do all-live auditions because it’s important to know what you’re getting and get a feel of the personality of each [singer]. We try to keep it as pure as we possibly can with everything sounding as close to the records as possible.
You have so many huge hits we all know, and you’ve been singing them for many years. Do any of these songs have a different meaning for you now than they used to? You know, each time you go out to do a performance, you need to work on yourself psychologically to understand you are not performing for yourself. The people who buy tickets and come to see you are hoping you’ll be doing the music that made you famous or the music they know and relate to, and you have to pretty much stay in that place. You can lose yourself, and I’ve known many acts that got tired of doing the material they recorded and the public made very famous for them, and they didn’t want to do it anymore. And those audiences can be terribly disappointed. So you have to put yourself in that right place. I always think, how can you get tired of the success you’ve had?
I think one problem you have with your live shows is you have too many of those songs to sing. We’ve had a great deal of success making records. There’s no way we could cover everything we have. It would have to be a three-and-a-half-hour show.
Your audience has a lot more youth than I realized. I’m sure “Jersey Boys” has helped with that. How do you feel about having a younger generation of fans? I feel pretty good about it. The thing “Jersey Boys” did most was make people aware of a lot of the music we recorded, that we were having hits and doing it in so many different ways. We didn’t stay with a pattern, we were just having fun making records. It’s really funny. Success is a funny thing. I don’t think there’s any particular formula other than doing what we really love and doing it with feeling, and I think it comes through in the music.
Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons take the stage at the Park Theater at Monte Carlo at 8 p.m. January 12 and 13. Find information at mgmresorts.com.