When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted The Four Seasons in 1990, only four group members — the original quartet of Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi — were named as honorees. But when the group enters the New Jersey Hall of Fame on May 6, at a ceremony at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, Joe Long will be included, as well.
Long, an Elizabeth native (birth name: Joseph LaBracio), replaced Massi in 1965 and stayed until 1975. He is only briefly mentioned in the hit Four Seasons jukebox musical, “Jersey Boys.” But during his decade as a Four Seasons, the group had hits such as “C’mon Marianne,” “Tell It to the Rain” and “Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ’bout Me)” and released its most artistically ambitious album, The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette.
Long recently did an extensive interview with Mike Derrico of the Rock Under Fire podcast. To listen to it, in its entirety, visit rockunderfire.libsyn.com. But here is an excerpt, with Long talking about joining the group:
At the time, I was aware of the Seasons, because they were having all those hits, and they were a Jersey group. I can’t say that I was a big fan, because I was not a big fan of rock ‘n’ roll music. I was playing with show groups in the area, which played rock ‘n’ roll, but mostly played rhythm and blues, which is more associated to jazz … you know, Fats Domino and that era, where the roots were right out of jazz music, jazz-blues.
Now, Tommy (DeVito) called me … a couple of guys, in fact, one of them was my then-agent, Frankie Fame, told Tommy, “I got a guy that is a bass player, sings … he might be a natural fit for you.” So Tommy was curious and asked to talk to me. Frankie brought Tommy and me together, and we spoke.
Long asked for two weeks notice, which didn’t make DeVito happy.
Tommy was pretty bugged. “Well, okay, fine!” and he hung up on me. And I remember telling my brother, “I think I just blew the best gig I could possibly be offered.” (DeVito) talked it over with the guys, and they said … “If the guy’s loyal enough to have to give notice to his local New Jersey band before coming with us, he’s not gonna leave us the way Nicky did.” And that’s no reflection on Nicky: Nicky had his reasons. But did he leave them … abruptly. So they turned right around and called me back again. So that loyalty did pay off, in the long run.
Here is a clip of the band on the British show “Top of the Pops” in 1971, with original members Frankie Valli (lead vocals) and Bob Gaudio (keyboards), plus Long on bass, and Bob Grimm on guitar.