Straight Out of Newark

Tommy DeVito was from Belleville, N.J. and he sang in the Variety Trio with his twin brother Nick and Hank Majewski. Frankie Valli began his singing career in the early 1950s with the Variety Trio and he stayed with them till late 1952, when the Variety Trio disbanded and Valli, along with Tommy DeVito, became part of the house band at The Strand in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  Valli and Tommy DeVito left the house band at The Strand and formed The Variatones with Hank Majewski, Frank Cattone, and Billy Thompson.  They were renamed The Four Lovers.  Nick Massi was born in Newark and he was the one with the deep voice and the bass player and primary vocal arranger for the Four Seasons during their glory years. Massi quit the band in 1965, wanting to give up touring and stay home.

Bob Gaudio was raised in Bergenfield, N.J. and he wrote his first hit in 1958, ‘(Who Wears) Short Shorts’, at the age of 15 as a member of the Royal Teens and it went to No. 3.  Gaudio toured alongside stars like Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke and Bo Diddley, but he didn’t find his true niche in the music world, until 1958 when he met Frankie Valli and his group as the Royal Teens prepared to perform on a local television program.  Seventeen-year-old Gaudio quit the Royal Teens in 1960 because he was tired of touring and he got a job in a printing factory.  Bob met a guy in the factory that had a couple of fingers missing and he asked him what happened and the guy told him that sometimes things happen in the printing industry, and that is when he dropped his lunch and left.  Bob started looking for work again in the music industry and he ran into Joe Pesci and with two others guys they formed a jazz group with Joe playing guitar and singing while Bob played the sax.

Pesci told Gaudio about this kid that was a great, great singer, and he thought that this group might be looking for a keyboard player.  Gaudio was re-introduced to Frankie Valli by his friend Joe Pesci who already had worked as an actor, but would later become a famous actor.  Growing up near Newark, N.J., young Pesci was friendly with Tommy Devito and the rest of the band and he brought Bob Gaudio to them, because he was a songwriter and they needed one.  Soon after Gaudio joined the group with Valli, DeVito and bassist Nick Massi, the foursome took their new name Four Seasons.

Bob Crewe was born in Newark, New Jersey, Valli’s birthplace, and he grew up in nearby Belleville, the home of Tommy DeVito.  Crewe had already written and produced a hit record for The Rays’ ‘Silhouettes’, which was a doo-wop classic that reached no 3 in the Billboard charts in 1957.  Crewe attended a Four Seasons show in New Jersey, and he was particularly impressed by Valli’s multi-octave range, when he saw him singing ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love’, which included a powerful falsetto.  Crewe’s chance meeting with Valli and Bob Gaudio happened in 1960 while he was scouting for a backup band to perform his demos and soon after he hired them.  Crewe offered them a contract, but this provoked frustration because he was mostly using them as background singers for other artists like Danny & The Juniors and Johnny Halo on his recording projects.

Crewe told their keyboard player, Bob Gaudio, to write something that jumped up an octave to make full use of Frankie’s remarkable range, from baritone to falsetto.  In 1962, Gaudio wrote a song that he titled ‘Jackie’ which was a tribute to the First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, and the group performed it over the telephone for their producer, Bob Crewe, who liked everything about it but the name.  They considered changing it to ‘Peri’ after a record label which Crewe had a stake in.  In the recording studio, Gaudio changed the name of the song again to ‘Terri Baby’ and eventually it became ‘Sherry’, the name of the daughter of Gaudio’s best friend and since Cheri Spector, was the daughter of one of Crewe’s best friends, a DJ named Jack Spector, this worked out as the new title.

Bob Gaudio said that he wrote ‘Sherry’ in about 15 minutes before a scheduled rehearsal and he said that the song was inspired by the 1961 Bruce Channel hit ‘Hey! Baby’.  When the unknown Seasons sang ‘Sherry’ on American Bandstand, they suddenly became the hottest band in the land, and after nine years as a recording artist, Frankie Valli became an “overnight” sensation with a No. 1 record.  The sound of ‘Sherry’ was unlike anything else on the airwaves.  ‘Sherry’ was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks, starting in mid-September 1962.

When The Four Seasons wrote and recorded a demo of this song, they didn’t actually have a record deal.  Frankie Valli was friends with Randy Wood, who was the West Coast Sales Manager for Vee Jay Records.  Frankie Valli played him a demo of ‘Sherry’ by the Four Seasons over the phone, and Randy Wood loved it and he signed the band to Vee-Jay, leading to great success for the group and the record company.  Valli sent him a copy, and Wood took it to a local DJ named Dick ‘Huggy Boy’ Hugg, who played it on his show.  Listeners flooded the station with calls, and the song was released on Vee Jay, where it became a massive hit.

This song is about a guy who is begging a girl named Sherry to come out with him this night, as he is having a twist party.  He wants to share the moonlight with her and he says that they will, “dance the night away”.  He says that she should ask her mama and “Tell her everything is all right”.  He tells her that she looks fine in her red dress and she moves nice which makes him lose his mind.

Sherry, Sherry baby
Sherry, Sherry baby

Sherry baby (Sherry baby, Sherry baby)
Sherry, can you come out tonight? (come come, come out tonight)
Sherry baby (Sherry baby)
Sherry, can you come out tonight?

to my twist party
(Come out) where the bright moon shines
(Come out) we’ll dance the night away
I’m gonna make you mine

Sherry baby (Sherry baby, Sherry baby)
Sherry, can you come out tonight?
(Come come, come out tonight)
(Come come, come out tonight)

You better ask your mama (Sherry baby)
Tell her everything is all right

with your red dress on
(Come out) Hmm, you look so fine
(Come out) Move it nice and easy
Girl, you’ll make me lose my mind

Sherry baby (Sherry baby, Sherry baby)
Sherry, can you come out tonight?
(Come come, come out tonight)
(Come come, come out tonight)
Sherry, Sherry baby

18 thoughts on “Straight Out of Newark

    1. The movie Jersey Boys showed Joe Pesci as being Bob Gaudio’s manager, which turned out to be a bit different from my research. I had no idea that they played in a band together, so this was fun to learn.

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