Saturday, September 15, 2012

50 years ago: The Four Seasons hit #1 with “Sherry”


The Four Seasons

Writer(s): Bob Gaudio (see lyrics here)

First Charted: August 18, 1962

Peak: 15 US, 17 CB, 13 GR, 15 HR, 11 RB, 8 UK, 15 CN, 3 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 17.42 video, 89.5 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Four Seasons appeared to be an overnight success when “Sherry” bounded to #1 in only four weeks, but Frankie Valli (born Francis Castellucio) had been working for a decade and put together the first version of the Four Seasons in 1955. They took the name from a bowling alley in New Jersey. The group went through various line-ups and recorded under a variety of names as well as singing backup for others, including Bobby Darin, Freddy Cannon, and Danny & the Juniors. FB The line-up which recorded “Sherry” was in place in 1961. It included Bob Gaudio who Valli met in 1958 on a Baltimore TV show on which both of their groups appeared. Also essential to the group was songwriter and producer Bob Crewe, who Valli met that same year when recording the solo song “I Go Ape.” FB

The Four Seasons released “Bermuda” in 1961 through Goldner’s Gone Records. It didn’t chart, but their next effort – through Vee Jay – gave them their breakout hit. FB Vee Jay had success with doo-wop and R&B in the ‘50s, but their only pop hit at the time was Gene Chandler’s “Duke of Earl.” When Valli played “Sherry” over the phone for Randy Wood, the company’s West Coast Sales Manager, he loved it and took it to local DJ Dick “Huggy Boy” Hugg. After Hugg played it on his show, the station was flooded with calls. SF

This is the “Belmonts-meets-Beach Boys on Maurice Williams’ turf.” DM That “plunk-plunk rhythm…sets up the real action, in the drums and tambourine which dance their asses off while Frankie Valli’s falsetto heads to the stratosphere.” DM

“Sherry” was written in 15 minutes. Gaudio explained, “I was ready to leave for a rehearsal…and I sat at the piano and it just came out. Not having a tape recorder in those days, the only way I could remember it was to put a quick lyric to it and remember the melody and the words together. I drove down to the rehearsal humming it, trying to keep it in my mind. I had no intention of keeping the lyrics. To my surprise, everybody like the the lyrics so we didn’t change anything.” FB

Apparently everything was in place but the title. Gaudio had used “Terry” as a placekeeper, but the group also considered “Jackie” in honor of then-first lady Jackie Kennedy. SJ When the group performed it for Crewe over the phone, he said he liked it, but wanted to change the name. They also considered “Peri Baby.” WK Crewe’s friend, New York City DJ Jack Spector, suggested “Cheri” after his three-year-old daughter SJ and that’s the name that stuck, albeit with a spelling change.


First posted 3/14/2021; last updated 4/16/2023.

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