A woman and man face the camera, smiling.
Danielle Gaudio Lalehzar ’89, MA ’90, with father Bob Gaudio, who'd won the Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.

The music and story of the Four Seasons have captivated audiences for decades. But Danielle Gaudio Lalehzar ’89, MA ’90, daughter of multi-award-winning songwriter and original group member Bob Gaudio, has her own story to tell.

The music of the Four Seasons (later Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons) has been going strong since they released their first single, and first of many number-one hits, “Sherry,” in 1962. The group’s musical magic is something very familiar to Danielle Gaudio Lalehzar ’89, MA ’90: She’s the daughter of Bob Gaudio, the group’s cofounder, backup vocalist, keyboardist and songwriter.

 A handwritten note of a musical staff and the words “To Danielle, Can't take my eyes off of you, who loves you! It's just too good to be true. Love is forever, Dad 1/26/24”

Bob Gaudio, a prolific letter writer, sent Danielle Gaudio Lalehzar ’89, MA ’90, this note.

The former Jersey girl, who fell in love with Adelphi and Garden City as a student, came up with the idea of adapting her father’s songs for young children. The result is Jersey Babys: The Music of Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons for Kids in 2008. Now she has added two more tracks to the album, both versions of “Beggin’,” a song that reached a new generation of listeners when Norwegian duo Madcon released a rap version and Italian band Maneskin performed it on the Eurovision competition. Lalehzar served as executive producer of the album, which includes hits like “Walk Like a Man,” “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”

Gaudio’s music and the Four Seasons are like gifts that keep on giving. Frankie Valli, the lead singer known for his distinctive falsetto voice, is still going strong at the age of 90, currently on the road for the Last Encore farewell tour. The Tony Award–winning musical Jersey Boys, which ran for more than 15 years on Broadway, is also on tour, and is now available to be produced by regional theaters all over the United States. A live Jersey Boys film release featuring Nick Jonas as Frankie Valli is coming soon.

Connecting Through Music and Words

Lalehzar initially got the idea of reimagining her father’s music for a young audience when hearing an album featuring Beatles music adapted as lullabies for babies. “I had two young boys, and I thought, ‘I should be playing them my dad’s music,’” she said. Gaudio was busy working on Jersey Boys, but his daughter wouldn’t take no for an answer. Dad finally agreed and brought in Robby Robinson, Frankie Valli’s musical supervisor of 46 years, to create the new arrangements.

“This became my passion project,” Lalehzar said. “My father’s music is timeless and inspirational. I couldn’t be happier with the result.”

But her relationship with her famous father wasn’t all smooth sailing.

Lalehzar and her two siblings are the children of Gaudio and his first wife, Brit (Olsen) Gaudio. The couple divorced when their children were very young, and Lalehzar and her mother and siblings stayed in New Jersey while Gaudio relocated to the West Coast.

“We kept the connection going through letters,” she said. “He wrote four-page letters, front and back, sharing what was going on in his life.”

From Jersey Girl to Garden City Girl at Adelphi

In high school, Lalehzar knew she wanted to be “close to New York City but not in the city. My friend Niki [DeSilvio ’94] and I drove up and fell in love [with Adelphi’s] beautiful, safe campus.” Lalehzar lived in Waldo Hall and worked in Roosevelt Field. “I never wanted to leave Garden City,” she said. She, her husband and two sons have been residents since 2005. At Adelphi, she met lifelong friends, “my Adelphi girls,” as she calls them.

Those friends would be there for her during a major crisis in her life. Shortly before graduating with her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, her beloved mother died unexpectedly. Lalehzar decided to continue at Adelphi for her master’s degree. One of her classes—The Holistic Aspects of Death and Dying—would change her life.

In the class, she wrote a letter to her mother, telling her about her pain and that “although a part of me has died, I will go on to live my life as best I can.”

“I’m so grateful that Adelphi offered a course that prompted me to write about this profound loss at such a tender time in my life,” she said.

Writing was a tool she would call upon again when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She joined Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Visible Ink program—and she contacted the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program and was connected with Angela Papalia, MSW ’02, assistant director. “She was my savior,” Lalehzar said. “Everybody should know about this program.”

Silver Linings and “Silence Is Golden”

Lalehzar stresses that music and writing are about connection and impact. The actors who played her father in Jersey Boys have told her how “portraying the role has affected their lives,” she said. And when she met deejay Surf Mesa, whose version of “ily (i love you baby, feat. Emilee)” recently reached more than 900 million streams on Spotify, she said, “He told me, ‘Your dad’s songs changed my life.’”

And which of her father’s songs is Lalehzar’s favorite? “Silence Is Golden,” she said.

Readers in the Long Island area can catch a performance of Jersey Boys at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, where it has been extended for the fourth time, till June 30.

About Bob Gaudio, the songwriter behind the Four Seasons—and Jersey Boys

Bob Gaudio’s compositions and Frankie Valli’s unique falsetto voice lifted the group to music stardom in the 1960s and 1970s.

  • For the Four Seasons, Gaudio wrote or cowrote hits like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Dawn” and “Rag Doll” in the 1960s and “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” and “Who Loves You?” in the 1970s. He also cowrote Frankie Valli’s solo hit “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” (No. 1 in 1967).
  • Gaudio wrote his first hit at age 15 when he was part of another group, The Royal Teens. The novelty tune, “Short Shorts” reached No.3 on the Billboard magazine pop chart in 1958.
  • The Four Seasons (and The Beach Boys) were among the few U.S. pop music acts to do well during Beatlemania and the subsequent “British Invasion.” All told, the Four Seasons had 31 top 40 hits in their career.
  • Before they hit the big time, they were called the Four Lovers. They changed their name to the Four Seasons, after a bowling alley (as noted in the movie Jersey Boys).
  • Two of his songs became hits for other groups: “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)” by The Walker Brothers (1965) and “Silence Is Golden” by The Tremeloes, a British group (in 1967).
  • Gaudio was also the driving force behind Jersey Boys becoming a Broadway musical; it won a Tony in 2004 and became a 2014 movie directed by Clint Eastwood.
  • In 1965, the Four Seasons sang Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice” with Valli’s falsetto as a joke. But the record label released it as sung by The Wonder Who. It reached No. 9 on the hit chart.
  • In 1962, the group released a Christmas album, with one cut peaking at No. 23 (“Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”)
  • Gaudio stopped touring in 1971.
  • In a double CD 10 years ago, titled Audio With a G: Sounds of a Jersey Boy – The Music of Bob Gaudio, Gaudio collected some of his compositions covered by different artists.
  • Gaudio also cowrote and produced an entire CD of songs for Frank Sinatra and also produced six albums for Neil Diamond. His production credits include the No. 1 hit duet Diamond did in 1978 with Barbra Streisand, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.”
  • His most covered song is probably “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” sung by more than 395 artists.
  • The original Four Seasons are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Gaudio is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
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