Special Guest Artist Online Interview Feature...
PRODUCER ARRANGER CONDUCTOR LEGEND
Original OL Records Artist Interview: 6/1/14 - 6/7/14
playlist at end-box#2
The smash Broadway Musical
brilliantly highlights the timeless
arrangements and memories of which
...Charles James Calello...
who helped to create many of the
"Jersey Boys' classic hit recordings,
in the Pop/Rock Music World &
was once one of the Jersey Boys, himself!
OL is honored to do a special feature
Interview this week of June 1-7, 2014!
Celebrated Producer Arranger
Composer, Singer & Conductor...
as we get to visit with Mr. Calello,
covering many of great moments &
highlights of his legendary music
arrangements for the Stars!...
From Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons'
Top 100 Billboard Hit, "Walk Like A Man,"
to Glen Campbell's "Southern Nights,"
to Odyssey's smash hit,
"Native New Yorker,"
to Barbra Streisand's,
"My Heart Belongs To Me,"
& so much more...!
It's happily a long list, folks!
The Pop/Rock Music World, calls him
'The Hit Man'!
Oceanlight Records is honored to
present this OL Interview, by welcoming
the Master behind the Music...
conduit of some of the greatest
ever written & performed...
Through the musical vision of
Mr. Calello's legendary
Grammy winning Arrangements
to the Stars, and more than
100 Billboard Top Charting Hits!
As part of Frankie Valli &
The Four Lovers,
historically known as
The Four Seasons
early years, and those magical
and timeless arrangements for...
Frank Sinatra, Juice Newton
The Toys, Neil Diamond,
Barry Manilow, Paul Anka & more...
For those millions of radio listeners
out there, whether you're driving
in your car, or in your comfort zone
listening to all of the top 40
great songs, chances are that
you've heard one of
Mr. Calello's great Pop/Rock
through a long line of one of these
Need we say more? We certainly will,
on this OL Oceanliner Notes Weekly
feature, with Mr. Charles Calello as our
Special Guest Artist!
Welcome Charles, and thank you
for giving us and all of the OL Site Visitors,
for what will be a 7-part Interview on the
Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series,
for the entire week of June 1-7, 2014.
We're excited to spend this week with You.
Thank you and welcome...
Thank you very much for inviting me.
I'm looking forward to doing this.
You're probably going to rattle
my memory in a lot of areas.
That's great, Charles!
Let's travel throughout your very
It is legend that in 1958,
You and your Band where
performing 'live' at a New Jersey
Night Club in Newark...
and Pop/Rock Singer sensation,
Frankie Valli of The Four Seasons,
walked in that night,
and was blown away after
seeing your Band perform.
Charles, with your stellar success as
Producer and Arranger,
it's always interesting to go
back to the very beginning,
when You first knew
that music would be your life.
Tell us about your early musical influences,
growing up as a youth, in your
native Newark, New Jersey?
Well, as a kid, my Mother listened to
She was an avid Country music fan.
My Father was a Club Date Musician.
He played weddings,
bar mitzvahs, and also played for shows.
Well, between my Father
practicing the Trumpet,
and listening to him play exercises in
and my Mother listening to country music...
I grew up with a pretty wide base,
of musical tastes from my Family.
What became your first instrument,
and who introduced it to You?
Well, my first instrument;
I don't really remember
what happened to it,
but my Father introduced me
to the accordion.
And the reason why he wanted me
to play the accordion, back then...
pianos, in most of the halls
that they played, were not usually in
tune. They were in very bad shape.
And you couldn't really hear them,
after they got a couple of hundred
people in an auditorium.
The Accordion Players
always played an hour before
any weddings, or bar mitzvahs,
and always made more money.
So, my Father thought by introducing
the accordion that,
that would be a decent career for me;
If I ever wanted to just play music.
As a result of that, I don't
remember what happened
to my first instrument,
but my last instrument,
the last accordion that I had;
I remember I kept it in a closet
for a couple of years, and eventually
I brought it back to the
Company that I bought it from,
which was Sano at that point.
I donated it to someone who was in need.
I think that I donated it to a blind girl.
I don't really remember her name.
Wow, that's wonderful. Charles,
even before your travels into the
Pop/Rock Music scene,
You actually have a jazz and
Well, sort of. As a kid,
I think the first record that I
actually listened to on my Father's
Victrola as they were referred to
was a record of Miles Davis,
playing the song "Move,"
which was arranged by
Gerry Mulligan, and that fascinated me.
The first record I ever bought was,
"Day by Day," by The Four Freshmen.
So, my background as a youngster
around the age of 13...
well, I think at that point,
most of the kids were starting to work
the Pop Music and R&B.
I was starting to buy jazz records,
or records that were musically
a little more interesting than just
Your Dad was a consummate
who also recorded for
Frankie Valli / The Four Seasons
Yes, me being the Arranger,
I used my Father in the
beginning. He was the only
Trumpet Player that I
knew... well, outside of the
Trumpet Player who was
in my Band.
My Father played the trumpet solo on,
"Big Girls Don't Cry." Then he played on,
"Let's Hang On,"
"Workin' My Way Back to You,"
and all of the other records,
up until I think around '66,
that we used horns on.
He also played on some of
the earlier records that I produced.
So, it's kind of a Family affair?
It was sort of a lot of fun to have
my Dad, there.
The other cool part about it,
is that every now and then I'd hear
one of these records on the radio,
and it reminds me of watching my Dad
in the Studio,
playing one of my arrangements.
Wow, that's wonderful!
If my Father was alive today,
he would be 104.
What is the most important element
of making music, and being in the
Music Business itself;
that You to took away on lessons
learned from your Dad?
My Father's influence,
was for me to learn as many
songs as I could,
which was beneficial while I was
trying to establish myself as an Arranger.
I wound up coming off the road with my
Band, and also ended up, doing Club Dates,
which were similar to my Father,
although it really wasn't
something that I was really interested in.
But my Father encouraged me to
learn songs. And the more songs
I would know; he felt that the more work
that I would get, because
that's what leaders back then
really wanted. They wanted people
who had tremendous libraries.
When did You join your first Band,
and where was your first gig
with the Band?
When I went to Arts High School,
I was about 15 years old at the time.
There is a Band called
Johnny Mars & The Rhythm Stars;
which was the hot Band in the
Johnny was in my same neighborhood;
although most of the kids that went to
Arts High School, came from Essex County,
or the surrounding counties.
But fortunately, Johnny lived
about maybe four or five blocks from me,
and the Guitar Player in the Band,
also lived in that area.
But what was interesting about it,
was that he was already working,
playing Club Dates and doing
Concerts. The Accordion Player was
He also went to Arts High School;
he got a scholarship to go to Harvard
and he became an Eye Doctor.
He became very famous.
So, when he left the Band,
I was the one that they asked to join the
Band. So, that was the first Band that
I actually joined, and we started to do
weddings. We were basically Italians,
working Italian Sandwich Weddings,
back then. Officially, we would do
Concerts for the Military,
and things like that.
It was a great experience?
Yes, it was!
Okay Charles, we're back in the 1950's
and you're out on a gig, performing
a few sets with your Band,
what's the song list on your sets?
We used to do, "Night Train,"
"Flying Home," and do
some Broadway standards. We also sang,
like The Four Freshmen.
So, we did a lot of their
songs. "It's A Blue World," Day by Day"...
And we also had the lead Singer,
who sang pretty
much like a Tony Bennett, type.
So we used to do
production numbers with him like,
"Ol' Man River."
We had a pretty decent show,
and we were sort of
like a highbrow Band,
not very commercial in the
area, but most of the Musicians thought
that we were like the best band in town,
because we had the
best musicians and the best arrangements.
Oh, okay, interesting...
You went to Newark Music & Arts
in Newark, New Jersey?
What was your experience there?
When I went to school there,
Connie Francis was attending the school.
Connie was doing a daytime
Occasionally, she would sing
at some of our events,
so we started to accompany
Connie. There were other people
that were also pretty influential
in getting me more interested
Connie Francis is one of the great Singers.
She lives not too far from me.
I still see her, occasionally.
The other thing about
going to the Arts High School,
is that you have all of
the best Musicians from the area.
Although I wasn't
really knowledgeable about what would
happen to my Music Career.
When I went to Arts High,
I had to play an Orchestra instrument,
so I took up the Bass.
And that's what really got me started,
playing with Johnny's Band.
I originally started as a Bass player.
How did Family and Friends,
play a role in your love for music?...
You talked about that earlier.
Well, my Father was really a good
He had a great sound.
But he was not a modern jazz
player. He played sort of like
My father heard Clifford Brown
and he blocked Clifford's records.
My Father asked me one day when I was
playing a song on the Accordion,
"If I bought the sheet music to it?"
I said no, I just heard it on the radio
and I played it. So he said,
"Where did you get the chords?"
So I said, well, these are the
chords that I think that should be there.
So he says, "I've got to buy the music,"
so I said no, I'll write it out
for you. So I wrote the lead sheet out.
He took it out on his Club Date,
and he came back and said,
"Where did you get these chords?"
I said, well, these are the
chords that I think is on the sheet music.
He says, "No, my Piano Player says
that these are better
chords than on the sheet music."
So, my Father then
influenced me to write down the
Clifford Brown solos.
I would come home from school each day
and write out the solos that
Clifford Brown played on
records. So, my Father actually
started me learning
how to take down dictation.
Your arranging music,
basically and instinctively,
started almost immediately,
at that point?
I must've been about 15 years old
when I started to do this.
While kids were outside playing baseball,
I was in sight listening to Frank Sinatra
records. I would try to write the
arrangements on paper.
I would first listen to the trumpet part,
and then the saxophone part,
the trombone part, the strings...
I'd try to write those parts out,
and because of my knowledge of
harmony, from playing the accordion,
I figured that if they were playing a
G minor chord,
and the lead trumpet player had an F,
that it would have to be harmonized
in that position; would be the
7th on the top, etc.
So, it was pretty easy to figure
out. Although I learned later on that
some of the voicings that Nelson Riddle
used were a lot different
than what I was hearing.
But that's basically what I did
when I was a kid. I really owed that
to my Parents, because they allowed me
the time to do it.
With Pop/Rock Music being a
did You fold your jazz and classical
background; with jazz being
improvisational as it is, and the more
of classical music into your Pop/Rock ?
How did that all come together in the
That's a very interesting question,
because I really paid no attention to
Pop Music, until I met Frankie Valli.
Again, we were this highbrow Band
and Frankie was really the one
that introduced me to Pop Music.
I used to look at Pop Music
as being extremely elementary.
Frankie was the one that actually
showed me why Pop Music was
so important, and what was involved
with Pop Music. I started to
understand that some of the Singers
that he was into, really were a lot more
musical than some of
the people that I was listening to.
So, with my background, and also being
introduced to Pop Music,
the way I learned it from Frankie;
basically from a Rhythm & Blues kind of
standpoint. That's basically
how I formulated my approach to
What better example than the great
to be introduced to Pop Music.
That's the best way, wouldn't you say?
At that point,
I didn't really realize how talented
Frankie really was because we were kids.
While I was a kid. He was a little older
than I am. I had no idea how much
he was in tuned with
what we needed to do,
in order for us to have a career in the
Pretty much everybody that's associated
with the four seasons, really owe their
careers to Frankie.
If it wasn't for Frankie, none of us would
have been successful.
Before Digital Downloads and CD's,
there were turntables, 45's and LP records.
Who were some of the Artists that were
on your turntable?
Like I mentioned before,
Miles Davis was the first record that I ever
listened to. I listened to that
record about maybe 2000 times. [laughing]
I listen to it pretty much, you know,
2, 3, 4, 6 times
a day, for a long time. I bought an
Oscar Peterson record,
when I was around that same age,
and I started to buy Jazz records.
I started to buy some of the classic Singers
at that time; Sinatra,
Nat "King" Cole, not really understanding
that Nelson Riddle really wrote
all of those arrangements.
I also became interested in the
Vocal Groups; sort of like
The Four Freshmen and the Hi-Lo's.
I was also interested into listening to
Big Bands: Count Basie,
Duke Ellington, even West coast music,
like Stan Kenton, Shorty Rogers,
People that I really admired.
Plus, taking into consideration,
that I'm not too far from New Jersey,
was Birdland, and I got to see a lot of the
great Jazz Artists. I would buy records
that they made,
like Cannonball Adderley.
Those were the records that I really bought
as a kid.
Charles, it seems like you've had a wide
listening variety of music, that's great.
No one could have a better take on it
than a Producer and Arranger of your
stature, as one who's Career
spans from all media formats of music
to date. What do You think about
Digital Downloads, and it's immediacy of
getting music to the
Consumer buying public?
Well, there's a lot of pro's and cons' about
digital downloads and what it has done to
the Music Business. When we first started to
make records, there were approximately
6,000 records a year,
that were released.
Now, there is about 80,000 records.
We're done talking about CD's.
The advantage today, is kids don't
have to go to a Record Company
to get their records released,
because the equipment that they need
to record with, is accessible,
it's inexpensive today.
As a result of it, the digital
world has helped a lot of Artists.
The negative factor is, that the music
became something that the kids
could get for nothing. But as a result of
the digital downloads, being able to be
delivered to the kids
immediately; that's a tremendous asset.
The industry that I was associated with...
for 75 years, existed exactly as it was.
We wanted to record in the Studio,
we made a record, people wanted to buy
it, then they would go to the store.
Now, all of a sudden, sitting at home in
your living room, or digitally download it,
or view the Artist. It's another
mechanism, in what happened to
So there's pro's and con's?
There's positives and negatives about it.
Thanks Charles, for that take on it.
Now, moving into your later education,
You went to the
Manhattan School of Music in
New York City.
What were your favorite courses?
Yes, I went to
Manhattan School of Music...
basically, because after I got out of
I was still studying arranging.
When I was in high school,
there was a teacher that introduced us
to Schillinger, which was a method of
writing music through mathematics that
I became interested in.
George Gershwin wrote parts of
Porgy and Bess,
Using the Schillinger System.
Glenn Miller also studied it and he used it
as an Arranger, to create
music... So, I wanted to learn more
about the techniques of writing
arrangements. So, when I went
to Manhattan School of Music,
it was only really an extension of Music
and Arts High School. Because a
lot of things that they taught,
we basically learned like
theory and harmony and classical harmony.
All of those things I had already gone
through in High School, so I was
pretty much aware of that,
but what it gave me an opportunity to do
was to be exposed to a higher level of
Teachers that were able to
expose me to a lot of different music that
I'd never heard, or different Composers
that I didn't know about.
During this time, while attending
Manhattan School of Music,
You met up with and started
Songwriter Producer Bob Crewe.
Tell us how this came about?
Yes, through Frankie Valli.
Frankie was trying to get
one of the songs that we recorded out
on the market, and brought it into
New York, and ran into
Bob Crewe. Now you knew Bob Crewe
from the mid-50's, when he recorded for
RCA and he had the hit record,
"You're The Apple of my Eye"...
As one of The Four Lovers. At that point,
I joined Frankie's Band as a Four Lover
or 1959. We met Bob Crewe,
where Frankie rekindled a relationship,
and we became Bob Crewe's Studio Band.
Your very first music production
"The Name Game" recorded by
pop/rock-soul Singer Shirley Ellis,
a major hit in the 60's. Charles,
can You please share with the
OL Readers, for those
who would like to know the difference
between Producing and Arranging?
Yeah, that came about three years later.
In the beginning,
I made 4 Four Seasons records.
I also made a few records for
some other people.
But primarily I was an Arranger for
Bob Crewe, and the records that we made,
were basically in-house.
It took a while for me to at least meet
a couple of people that would actually hire
me and give me an opportunity to make
records. In 1965, I met Al Gallico,
who published songs for Lincoln Chase,
and he was recording Shirley Ellis.
He and Shirley wrote together.
Al hired me to make "The Name Game,"
and I recorded that record in 1965.
That year, I had two records in the
top 10 of the Billboard charts,
that were listed as the top 10 songs
of the year. One was "The Name Game,"
the other one was, "A Lover's Concerto."
These are great recordings!
The incredible Pop Icon Frankie Valli
walks into a New Jersey Club one night.
Your Band was playing and Mr. Valli was
blown away by what he heard.
Do You remember what song that
your Band was playing,
at the moment he walked in?
No, I don't remember what we were
playing. Our Band was so good musically,
that it really didn't matter, what he heard,
when he walked in. What would've been
heard that he would never have heard
in any of the bands that were local...
First of all, most of the kids that were in
Bands were playing by ear.
We were Musicians; we could read,
we also knew harmony. Most of the kids
that were playing in bands, were playing
guitar and have Vocal Groups.
They would sing basically,
not really knowing the essence of what they
were really doing, because they weren't
schooled. So it was like a new world for
Frankie, when he heard our Band.
Tell us about your music arrangement
approach on "Walk Like A Man,"
and what it was like to
brainstorm with Mr. Valli /
The Four Seasons,
on their vocal approach,
to what is now without question,
one of the greatest classic hits
of the century?
When I started to make records with
Bob Crewe, I realized that writing arrangements and making
records, were two different businesses,
and the musical brains that made the
records, were myself,
Bob Crewe, and Bob Gaudio. Frankie,
was not very vocal in how to make the
records, at that particular time.
Although, his instincts were always there
about what to do, vocally. We worked;
it was Myself and Gaudio and Crewe,
that got together to lay out
what that tracks would actually do.
So, I started to work with Bob Gaudio.
Bob Gaudio, I found out was
really, really brilliant. He didn't read
and write music, but yet, he was
He has a great ear...
Bob Crewe would also add his
musical ideas. So what I would do,
is that I would sit there
and write out the records,
and they would dictate what they wanted
the instruments to do.
And then I would write them out...
so that they would make musical sense.
When we first started to make the records,
I was being directed by
Bob Crewe, who already had
half a dozen major hits.
So my education was; I started out by just
being a cog in the wheel.
It wasn't until "Dawn (Go Away)"
that I actually had an opportunity
to make what was the first of
many Charlie Calello records,
for The Four Seasons.
These are great recordings...
they are all just so classic
and we find ourselves listening
to these songs all of the time.
Charles, one of the elements of your
great arrangements, overall, is that they
always capture and reflect the
sign of the times...
From your pop-styled shuffle
arrangement of Neil Diamond's 60's classic,
to the Pop Singer sensation
Ariana Grande, who we see as the luckiest
young Artist on earth to be working with
How much does social surroundings
play into the musical direction you
would take when arranging a song?
When it came time to do "Sweet Caroline;"
I was actually called by mistake.
I don't think he really knew who I was,
but Tommy Catalano, who was producing
the record, worked for
Bob Crewe, at one point,
called me to make the
record. It was a strange experience,
because there was really not a whole lot of
feedback from Neil,
as to what he wanted. They just wanted
to add horns and strings to the record.
They had cut the track in Memphis,
and the track sounded okay, and the song
sounded okay, but it needed something to
bring it to life. I wrote the horns
and strings on the record.
When I would listen to a track
that was made, where I had to write
the ones in the strings;
basically, what I would do is that
I would take the information
from the track, and would try to
make that live. And try to capture the
essence of what they were trying to do
with making the track and make it live.
Little did I know that the,
bom, bom bommm!
would become so famous.
Yes, it's such an integral part of the song.
You can't sing it, without singing
bom, bom bommm!
That's the hook right there!
Well, that's basically what an
He looks for ways to be able to put
musical ideas to enhance, or increase the
value of the song.
Like I said before, making a record,
and writing an arrangement,
are two different things.
In making a record, you have
to keep the listeners attention,
because you only have one aspect of
selling it... that's the person
listening to it. And a 'live' performance,
you get away with murder,
because you have
the visual which enhances the sound.
Making a record is a lot different.
There is one point you mentioned about
I first worked with her when she was
seven years old. I wrote an arrangement
for a pop song that she wrote.
When she got to be about 12,
I did a Pops Concert, with her doing seven,
or eight of the songs for the show.
She was amazing, singing with a
Symphonic Orchestra. I also wrote
some arrangements for her to perform.
My wife was instrumental in helping her
get her first agent.
That agent got her, her first gig,
on Broadway, at 13 years old.
She was brilliant as a kid.
You didn't have to be a rocket science to
know that she was the
goods. You meet somebody like that,
you know that if they work hard enough,
they can really do it.
She has an amazing voice,
an amazing talent.
Yes, we saw her on the
Billboard Music Awards Show.
She's got some future ahead of her.
She's already breaking ground.
That's a special young talent, there.
Thank you Charles.
We look forward tomorrow
in Part 2 of this 7 part Oceanliner Notes
as we take a look back at Charles Calello's
collaborating arrangements with the famed
Bob Crewe & Bob Gaudio,
& famed Recording Sessions for...
Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons,
Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra.
Thank you very much Charles,
for coming on as our Special Guest Artist.
Charles, is there any music commentary
you'd like to share with the OL viewers,
as we conclude this Interview
1 of 7 segment?
The only thing that I can really add to this
is that I was really fortunate for the
opportunity to grow up in New Jersey
and be close to New York City,
and play a part in what I
considered to be one of the
most exciting times in music,
which was the development of Pop Music.
Real Pop Music,
as what we know today,
from the 50's, 60's and 70's;
what a privilege to have had that
opportunity, I'm really grateful for
the people that bought the records
and made it possible for me to
Wow... Well, we are also grateful for
your arrangements, because they are
such classic hits!
Thank you Charles.
We'll see you tomorrow!
And thank you all for visiting
OL Oceanliner Notes Weekly!
Welcome Back to Legendary Arranger,
It's great to be with You, Charles,
this being Part 2 of our 7 day Interview
Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series.
Thank you once again.
As we go through a string of your
let's go to the 1960's production
recording session of
of The Four Seasons' hit record,
"Dawn (Go Away),"
Charles, not only created the
now infamous hook 'chimes' sound
on this song; how were the
vocal arrangements and harmonies
laid out for the Singing Group?
The song was written as a folk song.
It wasn't written like we ultimately did it.
I found Sandy Linzer,
who wrote the song with Bob Gaudio.
Sandy was writing with the student of
my Father's. My Father said that
he had a student who was writing songs,
and would I like to hear the songs.
So, he brought him to my
house. The songs were awful,
but the lyrics were brilliant.
So, I called Frankie. I said Frankie,
I met this guy who I really think is great.
Sandy, I think was about
19 or 20 years old, at that point;
and I brought him to Frankie's house.
We introduced him to Bob Gaudio.
The first group of songs that he wrote with
Gaudio, was "Dawn (Go Away)."
Now, the night before the session that
we were going to record them,
I met with Gaudio, like I did regularly
to be able to go over the songs,
and write out the arrangements,
and he started to play me this song.
Prior to that meeting,
Frankie and I were in the car,
and we heard the Kai Winding record
which is the theme for the movie
Oh yes ...Mondo Cane.
And Frankie said,
"We need to make a record with that
So when Gaudio played me, "Dawn,"
he played it as a ballad, like a folk song.
I heard the song and I said, give me about
20 minutes with this.
I worked on it,
and I wound up putting the whole
record together, on the piano.
Frankie and Gaudio
were in the other room.
When Frankie heard what I was doing,
he jumped off the desk and he said,
"What's that you're playing?" I said,
He says, "Oh my God, that's great!"
I explained to Gaudio
that I was going to use 'bells'
and 'chimes', and I was going to use this
figure from West Side Story
[dong... dong...], all of the ingredients.
I wrote this thing out, and Nick Massi
re-did the vocal arrangement.
They went in to do the vocal
arrangement. At that point,
Nicky was pretty much doing all the
vocal arrangements. Nicky was really
brilliant at that.
He was great at doo-wop, but he was
also great at doing commercial parts.
And what I stuffed them with,
I stuffed them with a whole bunch
of different chords that they had never
thought about using, so it gave them
a lot to work with. Sandy had
never heard any of his songs recorded.
He didn't even know that we recorded
He came into New York one day,
and I brought him to the Studio,
the first time that he was in the Studio and
Tom Dowd was the Engineer on the date
that we cut it at Atlantic Records.
It was the first record that we made on
8-track. So, Tom was about ready to close
I said, Tom, can you put up "Dawn..."
I think he had just finished the vocals.
I heard it, I knew that this would
blow Sandy, away.
So, Tom put up the tracks,
and rolled it back to the top and put up
the voices, and play the record.
Sandy started to cry. It blew him away.
That's interesting, we never knew that,
started out originally, as a folk song.
Well, that's one of the things that
What they do is they take the songs,
and they try to find direction for the song
that could fit into the marketplace.
That's why "Let's Hang On,"
was a little bit of
'Satisfaction' with the fret guitar,
and a little bit of
Motown, as a result of the rhythm section.
I would fit the songs so that they would fit
into the feel, so that they would be
The 'falsetto' signature singing style
is a huge part of the Jersey Boys' sound.
How much did that play into
your ongoing creative arranging direction
for The Four Seasons' celebrated hits
that you Co-Produced?
Well, the songs were basically written for
Frankie. In my opinion,
Frankie was one of the most original
Singers of that era,
because Frankie really had his own style.
And that was something that was unusual
in Pop singing because pretty much,
everybody sounded similar.
The Girl Singers...
You couldn't tell one from another,
although you could tell a little bit,
but it wasn't like they had their own
Frankie had his own sound.
When you heard Frank Sinatra,
you knew it was Sinatra. You knew it was
Nat "King" Cole. You knew those Singers,
right away. I turn on Country Radio,
as much as I like Country Music;
without listening every day,
I can't tell the difference between one,
Singer and another.
They are all pretty much starting to
sound alike to me, because the same
musicians make the records.
Back at that time,
if you recorded in New York,
well, the musicians made the
same records. So if the arrangements
were different, and the singer wasn't
different. It's hard to tell the difference
between the artists.
But the Four Seasons basically had their
It was a throwback of doo-wop,
but they really had their own sound.
Did Frankie always sing in falsetto?
Yeah, the first time that I ever heard him,
he sang in falsetto. He's not really a Tenor.
He's really a Baritone, strangely enough.
He's got a very strange voice,
because he could like turn a little knob
in his throat, and sing in a Tenor range,
and go in and out of his falsetto,
without you ever hearing the difference.
So, we'd go to record a song,
and he'd say that it's in the wrong key.
And I would say, no Frankie,
that was the key that we rehearsed it in.
Until we found the slot where vocally he
would put it, he would have
to play around with it until he
found out where he was going to place
Ah, we see...
You yourself, Charles,
were once an actual performing
member of The Four Seasons,
which were formerly known as
The Four Lovers.
How did this come about,
and what were the different
musical styles, as the group evolved into
The Four Seasons?
When the Four Seasons recorded up
until 1965, Nicky was with the group.
So, 62, 63, 64 and part of
65, Nicky was in the Band.
I got a call after I cut the track,
for "Lightnin' Strikes."
I cut it on a Friday and I was going
to do the background vocals that
We finished it on a Friday night.
That Monday I was going to go
and finish the record,
and I got home and I got a message
from Tommy DeVito.
He said, "Charlie, you've got to come to
Pennsylvania, and finish this Tour
with us." So, I called Tommy back,
at the hotel. I said Tommy,
I can't do it. He said,
"What do you mean, you can't do it?
You better be here." And if you saw
you'd know that when Tommy said that,
you better be here, you better be here
They sent a car for me.
I didn't even have a Fender bass,
at that point. I didn't own an instrument.
But most of the songs that I did since they
made the records, I knew all of the
vocal parts, and all the parts.
Since I was a Four Lover member,
I knew the previous repertoire...
So, for me to perform the half of dozen
or so records, it's not really
that difficult. They knew that
I could just step in,
without even rehearsing.
The rehearsal took place in a car,
on the way to Ohio.
The first gig we played was the one in
where you see they get arrested?
We were working a State Fair,
and we were at a
Race track. At the end of the show,
the paddy wagon
showed up. Frankie walked off the stage,
he says, "Are you Frankie Valli?"
They put handcuffs on him.
"Are you Tom DeVito?"
They put handcuffs on him.
"Are you Bob Gaudio?" Handcuffs.
"Are you Nick Massi?"
I said no, I'm Charlie Calello.
He said, "Where is Nick Massi?"
I said, he's no longer with the Group.
So, they let me go, I never went to jail.
That was my first gig with the Seasons.
I actually stayed with them
for about a year,
and then I replaced myself with
Joe Long. We finally got Joe back,
because I was running
back and forth to New York,
making records, and it was just
too big of a responsibility.
Okay, being on the road,
and making records, sure.
My real focus, I was a Record Maker.
I wanted to Arrange and Produce Records.
so you wanted to stay on that path...
but we're sure that the experience
must have been terrific for that year.
What was different about it,
was that we were doing
Concerts. Prior to that,
the only real jobs that I played were
weddings, bar mitzvahs, and nightclubs.
We were doing Concerts in Colleges,
and Performing Arts Centers.
So, as far as that was concerned
that was really a lot of fun.
Now, we come to the one and only
Your producing arrangement
on her classic, "My Heart Belongs To Me,"
is truly one of the most beautiful of her
It has melancholy feel to it.
In working with Barbra
and Songwriter Alan Gordon
on this recording,
can You walk us through that
I was in California, recording
Engelbert Humperdinck. I got a call from
Michael Lang, who was representing me
at the time; and he said that he just
spoke to Charlie Koppelman,
who was running the
He called me to find out if
I wanted to co-produce some songs
from the movie that she had made,
"A Star Is Born..."
because she wasn't happy with some
of the records.
So, Michael put the deal together,
and I went back to New York,
and a week later we flew out to L.A.,
again, and we met with Barbra.
Alan Gordon played this song for Barbra;
she loved it. So originally,
we were just going to do songs from
the movie, but then Alan came in with
this song, and I went to the piano
and I started to rehearse her.
I laid the whole record out on the piano.
It was really fun working with her.
She's an amazing talent.
There is not a note that goes by that
she doesn't hear.
Her standards are as high as you can get.
I found her a piece of cake to work with,
because I realized that the only reason
why she had somewhat of a
bad reputation with people,
was that she worked with people that
really couldn't deliver
what she wanted...
but if she worked with people
that really could deliver
the quality that she was looking for,
she was a piece of cake.
She's very, very creative.
I laid out the whole record.
The intro that I played on her piano,
at her house, is the intro to the record.
I put a tape recorder up;
I taped her singing the song,
and I laid out the whole record.
I took it back to the hotel,
and wrote the arrangement.
But what was really funny about it,
while I was in the hotel writing the
arrangement, she called about every
half an hour.
She'd go, "Charlie, Charlie, Charlie,
you could've been a contender,
"How are the strings. Charlie?
I love strings. How are the strings coming?"
She was like motivating.
As I was writing the arrangement...
when you write for an Artist like that;
it's almost like you're not
pushing the pencil.
They're over your shoulder,
watching you write every note.
So, it is a give and take thing, right?
Yeah, and as a result of it,
I wrote the arrangement.
I went into the studio,
and I think it was the second take of the
rundown. I ran the arrangement down,
she pressed the talk back button,
and she said,
"That's gorgeous, let's record it..."
and when we recorded it, I think it was the
second take that we used. And then,
the insert where the girls come in
and sing, she wanted to use the Oreos,
who were in the movie.
She called the Singers in,
and at the session, I gave them the parts
to sing that one section, where the girls
come in. When I came up with the idea
in the studio, she said,
"How did you do that? How did you
come up with that?"
So I said, that's my background,
working with the Four Seasons,
coming up with the background parts.
She was really a lot of fun.
Wow, that's wonderful!
I'll tell you a little bit about the session.
We went to record the tracks at 7 o'clock
at night. At 4 o'clock in the morning,
we were still recording.
She was relentless. "Let's do one more,
let's do one more!"
Finally, the Drummer had a
9 o'clock date, crawled out of the Studio
on his hands and knees,
so that she wouldn't see him,
and he went home. She said,
"Come on; one more."
And then somebody said, well,
Jeff Porcaro was the Drummer.
He was the drummer in the Group
Oh yes, we certainly know of the great
Barbra was calm about it.
Then the next day,
I wrote the sweetening arrangement,
and we went in and recorded it.
That's a wonderful story, Charles.
Thanks for sharing that with us.
We listened to that song all of the time,
it's just gorgeous,
what you did with it.
It really is.
his warm and emotional take
on the Bob Gaudio / Jake Holmes
"Michael and Peter,"
from his acclaimed '69 "Watertown" CD,
is something to behold.
We love your legato-styled
on this track, Charles.
Was this session recorded 'live',
with Mr. Sinatra?
Yes, we did it at Columbia 30th St.
I'll tell you this interesting story about
that Studio. I was 18 years old,
and the Singer in my first Band,
was friend's with D. Anthony,
who managed Tony Bennett.
Tony was doing an album with
Count Basie, at
Columbia 30th St.
I was invited to the session,
through this Singer.
What was really exciting about it;
I had never been to a real
There was Count Basie's Band.
Tony Bennett's singing in the middle
of the room, and Mitch Miller
was producing the record.
As I was watching this, sitting at
Columbia 30th St.,
I said to myself,
this is what I want to do.
The guy that was conducting the
Orchestra, was a guy by the
name of Ralph Sharon, who was
Tony's Arranger at the time.
I said, this is what I want to do.
11 years later, I was in that same Studio,
recording Frank Sinatra.
I never expected him to show up.
I just figured that we would cut the
tracks and Gaudio would go out to
California, and put his voice
on it. At 7 o'clock,
and I got on the podium,
and I brought my hands-down and
I started the session. I was halfway
through the first rundown,
when the air in the room changed.
He walked in, and I didn't see him.
The only thing that I could tell you,
is that the music went from
black and white to color.
That's what happened when he walked
into the room.
It was like something that you can't
explain that happened. All of the sudden,
the music came alive.
The Musicians saw him walk in the room,
and everything changed.
I was almost finished with
writing the arrangement down,
and I feel a tap on my
leg; I was at a podium,
maybe about 18 inches off of
the ground... I turned around,
and I looked, and there was
Frank Sinatra, face-to-face.
I had never met him.
Gaudio got the music keys,
and I never expected him to show up.
He looked at me, and he says,
"Are you Calello?"
I turned around to say hello to
him, and nothing came out of my mouth.
I said, oh my God, this is Frank Sinatra,
what am I doing here? My idol.
The experience was overwhelming.
I actually became pretty good friends
with him, later on. He was really
a great guy to hang around with.
One of our favorites of all time...
We love him. That's great.
Okay... How spread apart in time,
was the recording date for the
for Mr. Sinatra?
He didn't sing the song.
He had to learn the song.
We cut the tracks,
and we cut them on three different days.
I think we cut them over a period of a
couple of weeks.
He came in for the sessions,
and then Gaudio went to California,
and worked with him on the vocals.
When the record came out...
because they weren't from the
American Songbook, the public,
or the Record Company didn't support the
concept. But over the years,
it has become a lot of
his Fans' favorite record.
We love the poignancy that You
brought out on Frank Sinatra's
"Michael and Peter" track, Charles.
It has a very reflective thought about it,
and it brings out his intimate side...
There's nobody who could sing a song
Being in the Studio with him,
and watching what he
does to a song; it's hard to explain.
He was able to live every word he sang.
He put himself emotionally into the music.
And it was like, when he told a story,
he told it from the bottom of his heart,
and you believed him.
That was the secret of the way
that he put songs together.
He just spoke them in a musical fashion.
Of today's Crooners, and in terms of
sound and swagger,
who do You feel that would
best reflect the golden age of the
of yesterday... from Frank Sinatra,
to Dean Martin, Al Martino & so on?
About the only Singer that I heard,
was a Pop Singer, that actually
sings the music. well...
was Bobby Caldwell.
I made a couple of records with
Joe Bwarie, whose actually the
lead Singer in Jersey Boys,
on Broadway right now.
Joe really has a handle on this music.
Of course, there is a couple of people
that have high profiles,
that are doing the music right now,
that I'm not really a fan of the way
they sing the music.
But the only real one, that I felt
was able to stylize it,
and add his personality to it,
was Bobby Caldwell.
We saw Bobby Caldwell 'live',
years ago, at the time, it was called the
Westbury Music Fair,
in Long Island.
It was great to see him 'live'.
He has such a clear, crisp sound.
I am not a fan of Michael Bublé,
or Harry Connick's
version of this music,
because it sounds like it's not
real to me; but Bobby's versions of them,
really sounded real to me.
I'm sure there are other people.
I don't really listen that much,
anymore... but he's really one that
comes to mind.
I just recently did a duet with
Deana Martin, and her
Father. And what was really interesting,
I got a copy of the voice track, from
Capitol Records with Dean's
voice on it, for us to do the duet.
The Engineer called it off, and it was
take 2... So the final vocal was the
They used to record them 'live' with the
band. Today, that doesn't happen anymore,
with the singers.
They spend days on getting the
performances. Someone like Dean Martin,
was magical. His performance was magical.
He just stood in the Studio and sang!
He's another one of our favorites.
We are a big Fan of Dean Martin!
Is the duet actually happening now?
It's out now on iTunes.
Okay great, will definitely look to get it.
It's called "True Love."
Okay, thanks for that.
Mr. Calello, all of us here at OL,
join a long list of those,
as having over 100 Top "Billboard" Hits,
spanning over a period of 50 years!
To spotlight some of the
Top Billboard Hits,
that You Produced and Arranged
for none other than
one of the most successful
Pop Country Female Singers of
the 80's...Juice Newton.
To highlight a few of her hits
that You arranged...
"Angel Of The Morning," and
"Queen Of Hearts," these two hit songs,
having sold more than 1 million copies;
and let's not stop there...
"Love's Been A Little Bit Hard On Me,"
and "Break It To Me Gently."
Charles, in the making
and arranging of a song,
at what point in a production,
do You often have that
"this is going to be a hit" feeling begin,
and what are the essential ingredients
that are needed to come together
and make this happen?
Well, when we did "Angel In The Morning,"
the record really sounded good,
but the guitar player
that we hired, we cut the record at
Capitol Records in California.
I like to work with three guitars.
I was one of the few arrangers that did
three guitars, and I used to write for
all three guitars. Most Arrangers
just gave guitar players chords sheets,
unless they had something specific
for them to play.
But growing up making
Four Seasons records, working with
Bob Crewe; working with three guitars,
gave us a lot of flexibility.
So the night before the session,
I requested a guitar player,
there was a new kid in town, in L.A.
His name was George Doering,
a very talented Guitar Player.
He wound up playing on all of
One of the things that I wrote in the
track was... I wrote this drum figure,
which was like [di di di dum...],
Which was almost like a march,
to make it a little more 'rock'.
George was trying to get a sound
on his guitar, and used power chords
to go [ji-gi-ta dang!]...
and when he did that, I heard that
on the track. I said to myself,
this is going to be a huge record.
Every time I made a record;
if the record got to me,
if it blew me away,
I knew that somebody else would hear it
the same way...
Because we all have feelings;
if it invoked a feeling in my heart,
then I knew it could reach
That was one of the things that was
really exciting about that record.
"Queen Of Hearts,"
was very unique, because we used
four guitars on it, "playing with the
Queen of hearts..."
Those were four different guitar players
just overdubbing that [ji-gi-ta dang!]...
Just to get that sound,
we used the 12 string,
we used a tenor guitar,
a regular acoustic guitar,
and a gut string, like a Spanish guitar...
Four different guitars that were
And it played with those kinds of sounds.
All of the combinations of those guitars,
brought that one sound?
Yeah, you know it was fun to be able
and have the ability to be able to do that,
with those kinds of records.
You've arranged a total of
10 Top Billboard Hits
for Singer Juice Newton,
of which these were also successful
on the Country Music charts,
as well as the Pop Music Charts.
How much does the 'genre' type of
music play into your
thought arranging process?
When we did, "Break It To Me Gently,"
I heard Juice sing...
Juice, to me, was a Saloon Singer.
What I mean by that is;
she would sing like the kind of person
who was in a saloon,
having couple of drinks,
pouring her heart out.
She really, really knew how to get down.
She had a soul about her,
that was different,
and although we made pretty
pop-styled records; when she did,
"Break It To Me Gently,"
she actually won a Grammy for the
performance. But when we were
making the track, for some reason,
the track wasn't sitting the way
I wanted it.
I figured that the only way
that I could get the sound that I wanted,
was that I had to bring in the guy
that played on "Native New Yorker,"
and some of the other hits that
I had in New York... Who played keyboards,
was Richard Tee.
Now Richard had his own style of
playing. But Richard,
he knew how to play music like
a gospel piano player.
He overdubbed the electric keyboard
part, which made all the difference
in the world. Then when we put the
I thought that was one of the
best records that we made together.
You gave her such a great sound,
and she had so many hits.
She was always on the Radio.
Juice was fun to record,
because it was like a Studio
kind of record. We had the best players.
We had the ability to spend time
on the record, to make them good.
It was a lot of fun.
Thanks for that!
Lastly, in this segment, Charles...
In your days working with
as a Staff Arranger and Producer,
how did it compare to working with the
Capitol Records Artists?
My experience with Columbia Records,
how can I phrase this?...
was sort of like bitter tears.
What I really went to
Columbia Records to do;
I really wasn't able to do,
because of the politics.
It was the first time that I was
introduced to a big Company,
and at the time I went there...
There was a regime change
that was taking place.
I was hired by the wrong regime.
One of the first artists that I wanted to sign
was Valerie Simpson,
who I had worked with.
I loved Valerie as a writer.
I brought her to Columbia,
and they told me I couldn't sign her,
because I was white. So I said,
what do you mean? They said,
"Well, we only have Black Producers to
produce Black Artists."
I said, well, that doesn't make any sense
to me, because some of the hit records
that I made, were with Black Artists.
I happen to think that talent is talent.
They were concerned,
at that particular time, about payola,
and things like this; because they were
a Public Company.
I wasn't used to the politics.
Ultimately, I did record the
Laura Nyro "Eli..." album, which was
the first record...
that's actually my favorite record,
to date, that I made.
It was the first CD that I believe
David Geffen was involved with.
That was his first client.
David ultimately became the owner of
He signed the Eagles, Jackson Browne,
and everybody knows David. Laura
was his first client,
and the thrill of making that record was
really, really great...
but I lost my job, over, making
The budget for making records,
back then, was about $20,000;
I spent over 40, and the record to this day,
in my opinion, is still a classic.
I lost my job over it.
Laura Nyro was on many turntables.
One of the other things that I
couldn't do; was I didn't have the flexibility
to do what I wanted to be able to do
in the studio, because the union with
the studio, made it impossible for us
to do some of the things
that we wanted to do.
After all Columbia Records was the audio
standard, at that particular time;
with Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra,
Barbra Streisand and people like this.
Pop music was just starting to become
part of their repertoire.
They just signed Bob Dylan,
Simon and Garfunkel...
The transition was taking place,
but it hadn't really fully taken place,
until after Clive Davis took over.
A lot of those artists were signed before
Clive took over.
Like John Hammond brought in
Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel,
Blood Sweat & Tears,
some of other the Artists...
But after that time, it started to loosen
up, where we could actually
record outside of Columbia,
but I wasn't a happy camper, there.
Okay, fair enough.
Thank you Charles,
for this wonderful time that we've
spent with You in this segment!
We look forward tomorrow in
Part 3 of this 7 part
Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series,
doing one-take moments on your
extraordinary production work with these
icon Artists and their hits...
from Odyssey, to Barry Manilow,
to Neil Diamond, Glen Campbell,
the late great Laura Nyro & more...
Charles, is there any music
commentary you'd like to share with the
OL viewers, as we conclude this Interview
2 of 7 segment?
I'll tell you one little story about
The song, "When I Need You..."
The one that Leo Sayer had a hit with.
I cut that song with
Albert Hammond, for Columbia records,
and without someone to push the record,
the record was not a hit with
Albert Hammond. Leo Sayer
copied the record, note for note,
then had the hit.
I lost about four or five records,
with people copying the exact record
that I made, with other Artists,
because they promoted it.
On the same label?
No, they would hear the record.
Like,"The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine,"
I originally cut it with Frankie.
It was written by Gaudio, and Crewe.
The Walker Brothers
heard the song,
because it was never a hit.
They cut it, and they copied the record,
and had the hit with it.
There were several other records
that I had that were like that,
but a lot of it had to do with
somebody really promoting the record.
I wasn't experienced enough,
at that point, to really know
how to use the Columbia machine.
I was too new in the business,
and was dealing with making records
as an Arranger, and not as a marketer,
or promotion person. Until I learned
that end of the business,
it wasn't a happy place for me.
Thank you Charles.
We'll see you tomorrow!
And thank you all for visiting
OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly!