Four Seasons’ Joe Long passes away at 88
I never know what's going to happen when I begin my show on New Jersey 101.5. Today I was informed by Tony Newell of the Jersey Four that Joe Long of the Four Seasons passed away at the age of 88. Joe had been battling COVID.
I had the pleasure of both interviewing Joe at a Jersey Four show and performing with him when the band brought me up on stage at iPlay America. He was a truly great guy and a class act all the way.
February 9 marked the 55th anniversary of The Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. Back then in 1964 New Jersey, The Four Seasons were so big that VeeJay records would put out an album called "The Beatles vs The Four Seasons" with each groups songs on each side. It was in 1965 that Joe Long replaced Nick Massi who left the group on bass. I caught up with Long who's now the music director of the Jersey Four, a Four Seasons Tribute Band at iPlay America and we talked about his time with the originals, "It was great, it was fantastic, I got to get in there on the ground floor, it was something that no one could ever forget."
Long stayed with them through the transition from the pop era, through the psychedelic era and right into their disco resurgence in the mid 1970's. What was that like for Long?
"Sometimes it was impossible," Long said. "We had a period where we were so desperate, we recorded things like 'Watch The Flowers Grow.' There was the 'Genuine Imitation Life Gazette,' that was my favorite album bar none, I took so much pride in that album that Bob Gaudio gave me co-producer credit on that." Then came the disco era and "Who Loves You," which was the last song Long recorded with the group.
Of all the songs Long recorded with the group, his favorite was, "I've Got You Under My Skin." "Not only was that a great record," says Long, "but the most important thing about the song was that it separated the group from being a teeny bopper band, to one that appealed to the adults. All of a sudden, a thousand doors opened for us." The Four Seasons were the first rock band to play the Empire Room at the Waldorf Astoria, the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, it opened up the band to a whole new audience.
Long has seen Jersey Boys and likes the play much better than the movie. The portrayal of the characters was accurate but what they did on the screen, maybe not so accurate" Long would say the movie was about 50% accurate in terms of chronology "They took liberties but of course they had to"
Now Long spends his time as music director of the "Jersey Four." If you're looking to see a Four Seasons tribute band that sounds exactly like them, you've got to see The Jersey Four. If you're lucky, Joe Long may be there and maybe he'll tell you some stories!
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.