Tommy DeVito, a founding member of the Four Seasons whose bad boy image was immortalized in the hit “Jersey Boys,” died in Las Vegas on Monday, Sept. 21.
DeVito, a native of Belleville, New Jersey, was 92.
“It is with great sadness that we report that Tommy DeVito, a founding member of The Four Seasons, has passed,” said Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio of the Four Seasons in a statement obtained by the Asbury Park Press, part of the USA TODAY Network. “We send our love to his family during this most difficult time. He will be missed by all who loved him.”
DeVito died from COVID-19, Valli’s representative, Victoria Varela, said.
DeVito, as depicted in “Jersey Boys,” was a driving force in the band. He joined with Valli to form the Four Lovers in 1954, and founded the Four Seasons in 1960.
The group’s doo-wop harmonies and rock ‘n’ roll beats framed Valli’s distinctive falsetto voice on hits like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Rag Doll,” “Dawn” and “Let’s Hang On.” The story of the group’s founding, and the rougher elements band members associated with, was told in the 2005 Broadway musical “Jersey Boys.” It was later made into a feature film directed by Clint Eastwood.
“Jersey Boys” gave depth to the image of the band. In the stage and screen versions of “Jersey Boys,” DeVito is portrayed as a hustler with a heart of gold.
“They had a little ditty here and there, not that that I would complain about it,” said DeVito previously to the USA Today Network of his portrayal in the stage version of “Jersey Boys.”
DeVito left the group in 1970, a moment pivotal in the story of “Jersey Boys.”
“No. 1, I give credit to Gaudio because he came up with good songs, you know what I mean,” DeVito said. “Everybody had their little parts in it and that made it strong and I was probably a strong character in the group, so everybody had a little piece in it.”
Not even the Beatles could stop the Four Seasons.
“They came in a year or so after we got going and they made some noise, but they didn’t bother us because we still had one or two songs on the charts when they were here,” DeVito said. “They didn’t bother me at all.”
After he moved to Las Vegas, DeVito would visit Jersey about once a year and his trips included time on the Jersey Shore with friend, and actor, Joe Pesci, who was depicted in “Jersey Boys.”
“Convention (Hall in Asbury Park), we used to fill that thing — good times in there,” DeVito said. “We played in Long Branch years and years before that in a place called Jazz City. The guy who owned the place was a good friend of mine. We enjoyed working there because it was an easy job and easy to get along with the guys.”
DeVito was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the fellow Four Seasons, Valli, Gaudio, and Nick Massi, in 1990.
“In the Sixties, few acts had as many hits — or sounded as unique — as the Four Seasons,” according to the Rock Hall.
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Tommy DeVito, member of the Four Seasons, dead at 92 from coronavirus